Month: September 2019
Sefton Council are seeking to fill a new conference and sales manager post based in Southport, offered at c33k to c£37k and closing for application on 2 October 2019. See details under the the “Job vacancies +” menu tab of Britishdestinations.net or go direct to the relevant page at:
Airbnb have announced “that it will collaborate with hosts, communities and politicians across the UK on proposal for a clear, modern and simple registration system for short-term rentals in UK cities.”
Starting today 26 September they intend to, “begin a 6 month roadshow of major cities across the UK to meet with policymakers, city leaders and local hosts to share the positive impacts of home sharing, listening to proposals for a registration system of short term lets and discuss how it can work together with everyone to help make home sharing part of the solution to local challenges”. They are proposing to collate their findings and proposals for a registration system in a “white paper” to be presented to “government, policymakers city leaders and other key stakeholders in 2020”.
“Proposed destinations for Airbnb’s UK roadshow include Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol and Bath, Manchester, Brighton and the ‘South West’ (Cornwall) among others”.
Airbnb allegedly has a history, internationally of offering to voluntarily cooperate with Government and City authorities, where and when it starts to look likely that a potentially more robust legislative solution could be about to be considered or implemented. They also have the financial clout to mount very impressive PR campaigns and roll out committed host where and whenever necessary to support their case.
Currently the UK is recognised has having one of the least robust approaches to the sharing accommodation economy. Currently there are very clearly moves afoot to correct this, starting with the Scottish Government. There is also growing disquiet among civic leaders, local authorities and tourism businesses and tourism industry bodies across much of the rest of the UK. Looking at the situation internationally, it would not be unusual for Airbnb to propose a major City by City solution, rather than a unified home nation, or better still a British/UK approach.
The sharing accommodation sector is I know causing significant problems for destinations and destination management ranging from issues around the quality and safety of the product, through damage to residential amenity and place making, to an increase in the problems of freeloading of the back of the hard to sustain work of destination partnerships.
We will continue to raise our concerns and work with other industry bodies to pursue the safe, (clean) and legal agenda with Government and others, regardless of the ongoing Airbnb consultation.
Individual destination mangers may wish to try and ensure that they and their businesses engage with the Airbnb roadshow, if and when it is in their own area or, reading between the lines, it passes through some major City destination somewhere in your region. We will endeavour to clarify what the roadshow’s programme is as soon as possible. If anyone has access to the detail let me know.
The Airbnb press release has been added to the grow list of “recent and relevant older articles” (5 paragraph) on our sharing economy page at: https://britishdestinations.net/tourism-the-sharing-economy-and-its-wider-implications/
Published in late June this LGA reports looks at local employment and skill issues in the visitor economy and makes recommendations for a new locally driven approach. All good background material for developing or crosscheck your own approaches, and timely, not least because of the emphasis on skills within the Westminster Government’s Tourism Sector Deal.
It contains useful references to common issues related directly to skills and a range of non-skills specific issues, including local data, lack of priority and resource for the sector, through to affordable housing. The 6 case studies (5 from British Destinations members) provide, between them, a lot of good examples and illustrate the breadth of current approaches, driven by specific local circumstance.
At 35 pages it worth scanning the full document but if pushed for time key findings are at 9 to 13 and recommendations 14 to 16.
Find the report in the drop down from the main menu tab “National strategies & polices +” or go direct to the page at:
The correct closing date for the Destination Partnership Manager post at East Riding of Yorkshire Council circulated earlier today is Sunday 6 October 19 and not nearly two weeks later as I originally notified: https://britishdestinations.net/2019/09/24/new-destination-partnership-management-post-offered-east-riding-of-yorkshire/
East Riding of Yorkshire Council are seeking a new Destination Partnership Manager to working in Bridlington, The post is offered at c £32k for a 2 year fixed term. Applications close on 6 October 2019. (corrected from 16 October).
Find the detail under the “Job vacancies +” menu tab at Britdestination.net or go directly to the page on our corporate website at:
Although on the cards for some time Thomas Cook’s collapse still comes as a major blow for tourism and the travel industries. Not surprisingly it is dominating today’s media with an immediate human focus on the impact on, and the recovery of those, holidaymakers already abroad and those who have booked and paid for holidays, now cancelled. This will be disturbing for the individuals concerned but much of it is recoverable, albeit at a cost to insurers, to the ATOL scheme and to Government.
Less easily or quickly fixed will be the loss of some 9k UK based jobs (and those of an as yet unspecified number of UK residents within the c 12k employees based/working abroad?) and the closure of over 550 travel agency shops (figures given vary between 560 to 600). This will have serious implications, not least on the UK high street and for local communities, including Peterborough, the HQ location for this major UK company.
Over the coming days and weeks there are going to be a range of issues emerging around the impact on UK regional airports, on other airlines and the carving up of vacant airline slots. There are also some big questions to be asked, and hopefully answered, around the future capacity for both holiday flights and for outbound UK holiday travel and, within that, especially packaged holidays. In particular, is the traditional package holiday, the traditional sales model and, by default is the protection that packaging currently gives, still sustainable?
Other existing or new travel operators may well take up the slack on a similar basis, or the significant volume of package business sold by Thomas Cook annually within the UK (and in other EU countries) might now shift more rapidly towards online, dynamic packaging. Some of that online product may not offer the same levels of consumer protection, nor importantly for HMG, contribute as much in the way of UK employment or UK tax revenues, against very substantial UK sales.
The events at Thomas Cook shouldn’t just be viewed as an unfortunate glitch by the rest of the wider industry but a symptom of problems that need to be forensically analysed and then addressed, or if they can’t be addressed, then at least managed. Thomas Cook didn’t accumulate somewhere in the region of £1bn debt doing nothing. Understanding how and why could be critical in understanding what the future may hold for domestic outbound travel and by inference, to some degree, UK domestic tourism as well.
I attended the Sector Deal conference held in Birmingham. Although well attended, there were relatively few British Destination members present. This note is intended to give you an idea of the key point you may have missed, presented in the order of the conference sessions.
As a reminder of the highlights of what the Deal sets out to achieve: https://www.visitbritain.org/tourism-sector-deal-highlights and the detail behind that see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tourism-sector-deal/tourism-sector-deal
Keynote- Given by the very recently appointed Tourism Minister Helen Whately, who replaced Rebecca Pow (24 May – 11 Sep 19) on her moved to DEFRA. An open and enthusiastic introduction from a Minister who is clearly keen to learn and, currently looking to undertake visits. The Minister confirmed the commitment to deliver the Tourism Deal, the importance of being one of less than a dozen industries given a Deal from the c 70 that applied. She also expressed a view that there was a need talk the Deal up and get information about the Deal and its importance out to the wider industry.
Beyond the immediate opportunity to get a Ministerial visit, if you have a story to tell (contact DCMS), the key point was the confirmation that the development of criteria, the biding process and implementation for Tourism Zones would now be shifted (6 to 12 months?) to the right from late 2019 -2020 into 2020 – 2021, following the announcement of a one off, single year Comprehensive Spending Review settlement for the financial year 2020 -21. This would give additional time for DCMS, destinations and their partners to develop their plans and, presumably, for DCMS to make the case for funding for the zones in the next 3-year round, that would now need to be negotiated and announced during 2020. More on the tourism zones later. The other strands of the Deal would continue to be progressed as planned.
Tourism Data Hub – The Deal envisaged the development of hub to facilitate the sharing of the vast amount of commercial and other “big data” now held across tourism and other industries. The opportunities and the potential to enrich understanding are vast, as illustrated by a presentation on tracking movement patterns by mobile telephone users and discussions on the use of other data from bank transactions to social media usage. There was also much discussion around the incentives for commercial companies to share commercially valuable data, the cost, the level of detail and nature of access likely to be permitted, privacy, permissible usage and merging with other data set, for example weather information. A big opportunity but perhaps still a number of major hurdles yet to be overcome, which may take some time to achieve?
Accessibility- Aim to make the UK the most accessible international destination, for the widest possible range of disabled people. A presentation was given on the scale and range of domestic and international opportunities to increase engagement from both the industry and this major market segment. Key points included the opportunity to address a wide range of disabilities, accessibility wasn’t simply about physical accessibility, for example, wheel chair access. The UK was already a relatively accessible destination but there was much more to do, including improving the information to both businesses and to potential customers. See VB’s current b2b tools via: https://britishdestinations.net/accessible-tourism/
Local Industrial Strategies- The Mayor of the West Midlands gave an informative presentation on their regional Industry Strategy and the importance of tourism within it. During Q & As, it was said that although not a prerequisite, having tourism within the local Industry Strategy might be advantageous when engaging in the Tourism Sector Deal and in particular for any Tourism Zone bids (demonstrating local commitment and joint priority?). For most the strategy will now already be set and they will either have the advantage, or need to work around the potential disadvantage.
Business events – An International Business Events Action Plan has been developed and is now being implemented. There was some financial support available via VB and soft support from DCMS, for example Ministerial letters to organisers. Reduce seasonality was a key objective. In Q & As VB indicated that there were opportunities to host smaller events below 250 delegates for those destinations not on the established international circuit. (contact VB). See the plan (exec summary page 6) at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/812894/2305-G_International_Business_Events__1_.pdf
Skills – A Board of industry experts had been formed to lead the skills agenda, chaired by Grant Hearn, former CEO of Travelodge. Plans include a £1m employers’ funded recruitment and retention campaign. Targets include 30k apprenticeships per year by 2025 and mentoring for 10k of those in employment.
Tourism Zones – Largely a Q & A session the developing plans to create up to 5 Tourism Zones in England or, subject to devolved Government agreements, in the UK, were outlined and discussed. Although the decision to delay the development of the criteria, bidding and implementation means that potential bidders will not have access to detailed criteria immediately, we believe that the individual sector deal strands and the criteria within them already point towards the essence of what a good bid should, as a minimum, include.
In Q & As it was said that very small and very large area bids were unlikely to find favour, but no usable definition of upper and lower size were given. There may be potential to raise the upper target of 5 zones, if a case for doing so emerged during future development discussions. Treasury views on domestic displacement are likely to hold some sway, therefore framing bids around international market benefits probably would be advisable? Given the known levels of interest, managing the expectations of those who failed to obtain zone status were recognised by DCMS. However, the process of developing partnerships and the bids themselves was seen as having immediate and longer-term benefit. Those making bids may be well advised to consider how they manage local expectation and shape their bids to deriving maximum benefit, regardless of the outcome.
If destinations are hitting specific barriers to developing local ideas, due to a lack of a specific detailed criteria, then we would recommend that they should consider contacting DCMS for initial direction, or ask us to do so on their behalf, especially if it’s on a point likely to be of general interest that we can then share with all members.
Two bits of potentially important news from California the birth place of the gig economy and home of much of the world’s original disruptive technologies.
In today news Uber, having gone public earlier this year, has announced it is now cutting back 435 workers in their US world HQ based product and engineering teams, having dismissed 400 from their marketing team in July. The move is being made to try and turn a profit for Uber and its new shareholders, something which they have yet to achieve since their launch there in 2011.
Rather than disrupt and then the winner takes all, Uber is perhaps now suffering from the growth in its own disruptive competitors, who are equally struggling to make profit. It is hard to feel too sorry for any of the gig businesses in such circumstances and almost impossible to predict who, if anyone, will eventually be left standing to take all.
Winning all may also just have got markedly more difficult, following yesterday’s California courts ruling that contract workers must be treated as employees, entitling them to appropriate employment rights and protections. This drives a coach and horses through the gig-based business model of many operations in various sectors, impacting on an estimated 1 m plus workers in California alone. A series of failed attempts to gain similar recognition in other US states is likely to be re-energised by the ruling.
What difference, if any, does Uber’s difficulties and the Californian State ruling on gig employees make in the UK? None directly, but if the business model isn’t working as well as we were perhaps led to believe for a leading world player like Uber and California, the birth place and leader in the gig economy, has now had cause for serious second thoughts about the wider social and economic consequences of the employment model underpinning the gig economy, then surely that should give cause for many more Countries and jurisdictions to stop and reconsider their own relationship with the gig economy?
The gig economy is creating new jobs and is accounting for much of the recent growth in UK employment, but are the business and employment models driving that growth, themselves sustainable and having disrupted the old way of doing business could they themselves collapse?
The reason we of course need to be interested is that gig economy is that it increasing touches on many businesses involved in tourism and many more of those businesses that are involved within the wider visitor economy.
Over the last few weeks I have added a number of articles on the sharing accommodation sector to our sharing economy and OTA’s page. I am conscious that +95% of what is now in our extensive library of articles are largely negative. Trust me when I find positive piece, I do add them.
My particular favourite in the latest batch is the Metro article on the cheapest Airbnb in the UK at £8 a night. I thought it might be “false news” until I checked it out and found it does exist and is on offer still today.
All mod cons; the host even gives you the option of whether she parks her car in front or at the back of the house, nearer the back yard with the cat litter style toilet tent, presumably so you don’t have as far to walk from the blow up mattress across the back seat of the Nissan Juke family hatchback! This is the same yard with a tent in it, that forms part of the host’s 4 ecliptic offerings: the car’s rear seat, a small tent in an equally small back yard, an airbed in the lounge dinner of the host’s home and a caravan in what appears to be another but larger back yard.
One of the best line in the metro article, from the point of view of posing the question OMG, what has the sharing economy brought us to, is:
‘There’s electricity. Even for the tent outside I run a lead from my house”.
Followed by sheer comedy value/sound thinking on the part of the host, by:
“…… is also arranging a clamp to be fixed on one of the Nissan Juke’s wheels to stop people driving off when she hands them the key”.
I appreciate that what is being offered above is offered openly and guests are not being deliberately mislead as such. But I do still have anxieties over what is safe and in this case, what should be permissible? If I slept in my own car outside my own house or lived in a caravan on the drive or in the back yard, I am pretty sure that the authorities would have good reason to question it? Doing the same for commercial gain, however small, is surely a significant step beyond that? I know colleagues have worked tirelessly to try and outlaw poor quality, dangerous traditional accommodation sector provision over several decades. To see the sharing accommodation platforms opening up a new route to market for questionable provision is more than a little worrying, or at least that is what I feel. about it. I’d welcome colleagues’ views on the specifics of extremely basic provision; is it OK to offer tourist accommodation in my garden shed if the buyer is forewarned it’s a shed? And if it is not, should the sharing platforms be facilitating its promotion?
See the latest articles at: https://britishdestinations.net/tourism-the-sharing-economy-and-its-wider-implications/
You may be pleased to hear that efforts to fund a QC opinion around various sharing accommodation issues, that’s being led by colleagues in the SW and supported by British Destinations and many others is progressing well.
I have just realised that I have failed to circulate the news that Great Yarmouth’s, Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area second term ballot was successfully approved in early August on 53.4% of the vote cast and 71.4% of the total aggregate value, A total of 262 or 39% of the eligible ballot papers were cast.
This is great news for the Greater Yarmouth area, for the destination for local tourism and I would suggest for Destination BID process, as this now means that all the first tranche of the tourism focused, Destination BIDs adopted in 2013 – 2014 have been successfully reappointed. Hopefully this will help encourage businesses in other D BIDs to maintain their faith and reappoint when their turn to consider second terms comes round.
Congratulations to all concerned at Great Yarmouth.
For more detail on Tourism and, as we prefer to call them, Destination BIDS see: https://britishdestinations.net/business-improvement-districts-and-tourism/