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Clubs cashing in on thriving hotel market, tourism forum hears

PUBLISHED: 08:58 19 November 2016 | UPDATED: 08:58 19 November 2016

The Larking Gowen Leisure and Tourism Forum, held at The Boathouse in Ormesby St Margaret. Picture: Staff

The Larking Gowen Leisure and Tourism Forum, held at The Boathouse in Ormesby St Margaret. Picture: Staff

Archant

Sport and leisure clubs are joining forces with hotels to benefit from well-positioned customers.

The Boathouse next to Ormesby Broad.

Picture: James Bass

The Boathouse next to Ormesby Broad. Picture: James Bass

At a tourism and leisure forum organised by Larking Gowen, Natwest commercial manager Ian Monaghan said the partnerships were tackling declining spend at standalone clubs, which include spas, golf clubs and even night clubs.

He said: “The club market is currently quite difficult, unless they are blended into a hotel complex.

“We are told that people aren’t spending as much money as they used to in those areas - where clubs used to have a following that would stay and spend money, it does not appear to the be the case now.

“It makes much more sense for owners to, so to speak, team up.”

Investing in employees is key

Investing in employees could turn seasonal workers into long-term members of staff, the forum heard.

Nicola Butterworth, employment lawyer at Howes Percival, said training was key to keeping workers motivated.

“In tourism and leisure training does seem to be an area that businesses fall down on,” she said. “It’s important to remember that people will buy into the business if they are properly trained. It can protect your business.”

Turning to the Brexit vote, she reminded firms that they could still hire European workers and urged them to “stamp out racial abuse” if it occurred.

“The vote is obviously having an impact in business,” she said, “and in terms of increasing productivity it’s key to try and promote and stabilise your business.”

She said a government inquiry was considering how the tourism industry would fill labour intensive jobs potentially left empty by the exit from the European Union.

About 60 people attended yesterday’s forum, which was held at The Boathouse in Ormesby St Margaret, to hear about risk and reward in tourism and advice on business planning for 2017.

Mr Monaghan, who talked visitors through applying for funding, said the hotel sector was looking particularly positive.

“There are plenty of challenges – the continued advance of firms like Premier Inn, consumer demand for low cost and transparency, growth inside the M25 and more regional hotel brands,” he said.

“However, the good news is that employment has been growing twice as fast as other sectors - though in that comes the [national] living wage, so it is a balancing act.”

Earlier in the event, Rachele Kelsall, head of community development at Hugh J Boswell, spoke about the risks of flouting health and safety violations, citing last year’s tragedy at Alton Towers theme park.

In April, Larking Gowen published its 10th Tourism Business Survey, which has become a respected annual analysis of the industry.

The 2017 survey will be launched early next year.

• Do you have a tourism story? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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