Month: April 2018

In the news – Whitbread plan to spin off COSTA Coffee and Premier Inns by 2020, but expansion plans continue.

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Whitbread the UK’s largest operator of hotels, restaurants and coffee shops has moved to calm speculation regarding the future of the COSTA brand following investor pressures to demerge it from the rest of the group, which includes Premier Inns and the Beefeater, Brewer Fayre and Bar + Block restaurant chains.  This week Whitbread announced that demerger will be “pursued as fast as practically appropriate” to optimise the value to shareholders. The company which currently has over 2,400 COSTA coffee shops and over 7,000 COSTA Express self-service units in the UK, plus a further 1400 stores worldwide will be floated and listed separately by 2020.

Although of note in its own right, if only because of the seemingly ubiquitous nature of COSTA outlets, it may be of potential interest at a destination level in that Whitbread have indicated their intention to keep on expanding the number of outlets, adding value to the company whilst COSTA is still in their ownership.  Moreover, any new owner/investors will undoubtedly wish to try to follow suit for a good number of years after their acquisition.   Love them or loath them, there are some potential development opportunities here, especially in areas with a claim to a healthy visitor economy and currently no COSTA outlet, or perhaps room for just one or two more?

Whilst it is the demerger of the popular COSTA brand that seems to have grabbed much of the headline news, Whitbread actually announced that they were confident that both Premier Inns and COSTA would soon be businesses of sufficient scale and capability to enable them to thrive as independent companies.

Premier Inn with 785 hotels and 72,000 beds is the largest player in the UK’s budget hotel market could also soon be floated.  Again, of potential note for destinations are the CEO’s comments on their “ambition” to increase that to 85,000 beds by 2020.  Whilst it isn’t clear what percentage of that additional 13,000 ambition would be achieved through acquisitions, expansion of existing hotels or by new build, a quick back of the fag packet calculation suggests there is potential for say 100 to 130 new hotels of 100 to 130 beds and all possibly within the next two to three years?

Not unsurprisingly perhaps, when asked during a recent TV interview, Alison Brittain  the CEO suggested that they would be seeking to develop new hotels in areas where they didn’t have (much of?) a presence. Again, appreciating as I do that the prospect of a budget hotel appearing can stir very mixed emotions in the diverse, loose body of interests that form a typical destination, I simply wish to flag this up as a possible development avenue for those willing and able to be proactive.

Doubtless Whitbread will already know where they would want much of this expansion to go, nonetheless, there is always room for positive noises from destinations to influence development priorities and change minds. The decision and the indicative timeline given to float simply means that Whitbread may be that bit keener to progress agreement on development in the next couple of years than they might otherwise have been.

Given that the Premier Inn business model very often involves the colocation with one of the Whitbread restaurant brands it will be very interesting to see how they will structure the demerger of Premier Inns in relationship to the rest of the restaurant businesses.   I am sure that this must be addressed somewhere already but I’m just not aware of the detail yet.

The BBC’s coverage of the demerger can be accessed at:


Quality Accreditation for holiday lets and short-term rentals

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An interesting short article from Quality in Tourism, looking at an alternative voluntary approaches to some of the emerging regulatory issues linked to the rapidly growing sharing holiday accommodation sector and to the more establish, longer let House in Multiple Occupancy market:

In a week where BBC Radio 5 dedicated a whole programme to fire risk in holiday lettings it is worth considering that low-cost, voluntary solutions are already available to destination management organisations, councils and local hotel associations helping to ensure that properties in their destinations are compliant with the necessary regulations.

Quality accreditation schemes, such as the new “Safe, Clean and Legal™” scheme run by Quality In Tourism, part of M-Assessment Services, ensure that accommodation owners, whether in hospitality or private short-term rentals, have taken the necessary steps to make sure that their property is fit for business purposes.  Whether it is insurance, fire risk, accessibility, environmental health or many of the other details that are needed by law to operate are understood by the owners.  By encouraging owners to sign up to this type of programme it can give destination mangers confidence in their destination’s offering and minimise the chance of adverse PR which may impact on the town or wider region.

Deborah Heather, Head of M-Assessment Services, said “the Safe, Clean and Legal™” scheme is designed to allow property owners to promote the fact that they are operating compliantly and that guests or tenants can have absolute confidence in the property they are renting. While discussions continue about whether there needs to be compulsory registration, it is the perfect opportunity for popular UK destinations to get ahead of the curve and enhance their own reputation as a safe place for guests to be.”

To discuss quality accreditation for holiday and short-term rentals, as well as HMO, please contact


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Tourism Alliance Policy Briefing Session London 9 May 18.

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British Destinations are board members of the Tourism Alliance. One of the perks of our membership is that our member’s representatives are regularly invited to join Tourism Alliance events, the next of which is their Westminster policy brief session to be held at the CBRE Offices  Henrietta Place W1G 0NB, between 14:30 and 17:00 on Wednesday 9 May 2018.

Briefings  will include: DCMS -Tourism update, DFT – Next steps in aviation strategy, D BEIS – New EU regulations on online platforms, HM Treasury – Call for evidence on VAT and APD rates (session TBC) and Tourism Alliance –  Implementation of the EU Package Travel Regulation.

Booking and payment of the £40 plus VAT pp rate to cover the room hire and other associated  costs should be made direct to the Tourism Alliance: 

Job vacancies Tourism Society London.

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The Tourism Society is seeking a new interim Executive Director .  The post is offered at c £40k pro-rata .  The Society is also seeking maternity cover for their part-time Membership Executive. This post is offered at £18k FTE  or £14.4k pro-rata for the 30 hr working week available.  Both posts close for applications on 10 May.

More details can be found under  “Job vacancies +” main menu tab or go direct to the relevant page: here.


Your help needed

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Colleagues in Swale are seeking some assistance around developing policies regarding the handling of lost car parking revenues due to the hosting of community and professional events. It isn’t simply an issue about car parking.  See the question under the “Forum: ask questions get answers” main menu tab of or go direct to the page with the latest request for assistance made to the rest of the “club” at:

Normal rules apply: any substantive lesson learnt will be made available to all other members and, whilst I can’t guarantee it, those who offer assistance generally get rewarded, most often when the unexpectedly find they need help themselves……….

VisitBritain Images (VBI) are being updated – action required.

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Just in case you miss the notification in VB and VE newsletters and/or any direct communication to individual partner destinations, VB are updating the VB and VE image library. If you have existing images of your destination or assets within it on the library and you want them to stay there beyond late May or you would like to take the opportunity now, rather than at some future date, to try and get an image or images of your destination included you will need to take action before 23 May. The VB update reads (with my additional highlighting in para 2):

VisitBritain Images (VBI), the online asset library of editorial images of Britain and England for tourism purposes, will be updated with new and improved functionality on 23 May.

If you would like to feature on the image site, destination partners will be required to re-submit assets for approval by VisitBritain and asked to sign a new license to permit upload and distribution via the system.

Updated features on the library will include new controls to ensure assets have the necessary rights applied when supplied by third parties.

To find out more about how to submit assets into the new collection contact

If members are not familiar with VB image library it can be accessed at: , however, you will need to register and have your registration approved before you can browse the images contained within it.

Sharing Economy APPG report update

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The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Tourism’s interim report on The Sharing Economy: Maximising Benefits while Reducing Adverse Outcomes, which was  previewed at our joint annual conference on 19th and published on 21st March, has now started to get some additional traction for the important issues it raises.

The latest interest comes from BBC 5 Live on 15 April and focus mainly on the concern that some properties let via sharing accommodation platforms do not meet the appropriate fire safety standards deemed essential for all other short let accommodation.  It is an excellent well-balanced piece that raises some very valid concerns.

I have added the article to the steadily grow list of national and international pieces already posted under our main menu “sharing economy” tab, within the web page dedicated to some of the core issues many of our members have. You can access that page here and find the article within it or go directly to the BBC article itself at:

The full APPG report, to include more developed recommended actions is being worked up for publication in the summer.  Meanwhile I am working with colleagues within the Tourism Alliance Board to ensure that the Alliance as a whole and key national trade organisations in membership of it, continue to take an informed view on the growing need for some form of effective action to ensure that accommodation offered on sharing platforms meets the appropriate regulatory standards that already apply to the rest of the accommodation industry.

Conference partners:

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New report on the real level of UK unemployment added to our library

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During a meeting today to catch up on the progress made on potential joint tourism research project with Prof Steve Fothergill, I discovered that Steve and the team at Sheffield Hallam had published a report in late 2017 on the real level of unemployment in the UK.  This is the 5th in a series of reports at about five year intervals that has looked at the hidden levels of unemployment among the UK’s working age population, much of it attributed to incapacity benefit.  At the time of publication the report didn’t attract much popular national press attention.

Although not a tourism report as such the finding may be of particular relevance to a number of UK popular destinations both inland and coastal. It is worth noting that an earlier version of this report played a catalytic role in helping us develop the case with Government for a greater emphasis of coastal resort regeneration.

The full 26 pages of text are worth reading in full.  However, the key points on page 3, the map on page 15 and the table showing the best and worst performing authorities on page 17 combined should give you an overview of the reports immediate relevance to your destination.

The report has been placed in our library in date order and is therefore not at the top of either the consolidated “Reports & statistics – by year” page or in the “(+)” listing of individual report.  It is current  the third item of the 120 plus strategically significant national reports held by us for your use.  For ease go directly to the reports page at:

Travel Package Directive UK implementation

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UK Government have issued their response to the consultation on Updating Consumer Protection in the Package Travel Sector.  It gives the gist of the responses and lays out how they now intend to implement the revised EU Package Travel Directive of 2015 by the due date of 1 July 2018.  The new regulations have obvious implications for international package travel but also increasingly for the domestic travel trade and for accommodation and tourism and visitor service providers who wish to work with other suppliers.   In certain circumstances it may even impact on how destinations sell local product online.

I have added an implementation update on the drop-down menu from the EU tourism policies & programmes main menu tab on which tells you the main points I think destination managers need to know immediately and gives links to the response and other more detailed documentation.  For ease you can access that page directly at:

2017 British Destinations, Destination Intelligence Survey results now available.

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Destination representatives will/should all be aware that we conduct an annual destination intelligence survey for all member destinations as a free member service. The 2017 survey using 2016/17 data was completed in January of this year.

Individual member reports, group reports by destination typology and an all destination dashboard that allows you to contrast and compare result across all members, in each of the area of activity recorded and, if you so wish, allows you to build your own reports using any or all of that data, has now been published to our destination intelligence website, most of which is protected.  The site can be found here .

If you have forgotten the separate password for the Destination Intelligence website you can access it using your normal, main corporate site password on the following protected webpage or, failing that, just email me.  If your destination is already a paid-up member, or about to be one once the remaining 2018/19 invoices are dispatched, then I will send the password to you.

Those individuals who physically submitted survey detail should already have been contacted directly by Sergi Jarques with your own report details.  Where members have not provided survey data, or where no local data is held by the member destination, Sergi will have used any available national data to complete as much of the survey as is possible, I.e. all member should have a report regardless; a small number may unfortunately be sparser on certain key detail than others.

Additional data can still be added to existing reports, if it is provided to Sergi by you.  Equally new reports can be created for any new members joining in the next few months, allowing new or returning members to start building trend data once they have participated in the forthcoming 2018 survey.

The 2018 survey for all members, using 2017/18 data, will be conducted during the closing month of this year and into early 2019. As usual Sergi will assist his customers and GTS (UK) will assist theirs to complete the survey, but only if they are requested to do so.

Any general questions on the Destination Intelligence to me, any technical questions on the reports or the survey itself to Sergi please.