- Hotel Market Research
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The monthly LJ Forecaster Scottish Intercity Report, from tourism market research specialists LJ Research, tracking city centre hotel performance in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, showed a robust start of the year for hotels in Scotland’s two largest cities and steepening challenges for Aberdeen hoteliers.
Growing by 2.1% compared to last year, demand for accommodation was highest in Glasgow as the city achieved 64.8% room occupancy during the month. Meanwhile, slightly below last year’s level, 59.4% of hotel rooms in Edinburgh were sold. The lowest level of demand was apparent in Aberdeen as for the first time on record (since LJ Forecaster performance monitoring began in 2009) under half of the city’s rooms were filled (46.8%). Compared to last year, this result constituted a staggering 24.5% reduction in activity.
Room rates in the capital increased by a healthy 5.9% as the Average Room Rate (ARR) rose to £77.17. Glasgow also saw revenue gains, albeit less pronounced compared to Edinburgh, which contributed to achieve ARR of £60.53 (increase of 1.7%). Whilst above that of Glasgow, ARR in Aberdeen fell by 20% or more for the fourth consecutive month to £70.23.
Highlighting an encouraging start to the year, Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) – a key metric of hotel performance which combines occupancy and ARR performance – increased in Edinburgh and Glasgow by 5.1% and 3.1%, respectively, compared to last year. Meanwhile, in Aberdeen following severe contractions in both occupancy and revenue, RevPAR fell by 45.1% to a new record low level of £32.89.
Looking ahead, a continuation of strong demand for accommodation in Glasgow was apparent as forward bookings for the next 3 months were up by 2% compared to last year. Meanwhile, in Edinburgh there was less business on the books compared to last year. In particular, a reflection of fewer RBS Six Nations home rugby fixtures contributed to a significant decline of 8% in bookings for February. In Aberdeen there were again signs of diminished demand in the future as forward bookings for the next 3 months (February to April) were down by 10% compared to last year.
Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “It’s fantastic news that Glasgow has started the year with the highest hotel occupancy rate in Scotland, reinforcing our position as the fastest growing tourism destination in the country.
The January LJ Forecaster Report shows a positive start to the year for the city’s hotels, with a 2.1% increase in year-on-year occupancy, increased revenue gains and healthy forward bookings for the months ahead.
As one of National Geographic Traveler’s Top 20 World Destinations for 2016 and with a plethora of major events and conferences in the calendar, all indications are that city hoteliers can look forward to another strong year.”
John Donnelly, Chief Executive at Marketing Edinburgh, said: “Edinburgh’s hotel occupancy continues to perform extremely well. The Six Nation rugby fixtures naturally lead to a slight cyclical dip every other year; however this is being offset by a strong 5% increase in Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR). It is a solid start to 2016.”
Sean Morgan, Managing Director at LJ Research, said: “A continuation of positive performance for Glasgow and Edinburgh hoteliers in January following a strong finish to 2015 highlights a good degree of stability within Scotland’s two largest destinations. This is in stark contrast to Aberdeen where we have recorded two successive months of record low levels of hotel performance.
Looking to the future, a steady stream of business and leisure events is continuing to drive up demand in Glasgow and, in doing so, helping to fill more weekday and weekend hotel rooms. Interest in the city will be further buoyed going forward following the recent promotional launch of the inaugural European Championships which Glasgow will co-host with Berlin in 2018.
Meanwhile in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, our forward booking analysis shows decreased sales on the books. For the latter, accommodation demand over the next three months is currently 6% lower than last year. Edinburgh hotels and other stakeholders in the city will need to work together effectively to maximise business during this shoulder period to enable a continuation of the upward trend.”