Hotel Solutions completed a major programme of research in May 2011 for Visit Kent to assess the potential for hotel development across Kent and identify requirements for public sector action to support and encourage hotel investment across the county. The research programme included an initial survey of hotel developers to assess their interest in Kent and identify ‘hotspots’ of hotel developer interest in the county. This was followed up by a comprehensive survey of hotels in these ‘hotspot’ locations to compile up-to-date information on hotel performance and markets. This information has formed the basis of a series of Hotel Market Fact Files for the county’s key destinations available through Visit Kent. The work also included the development of the Kent Hotel Planning Policy Guidance document circulated to the county’s planning departments to help inform the development and application of planning policies for hotels.

In 2012 we undertook a further piece of work in Kent to audit the provision of self-catering accommodation, touring caravan and camping sites, and glamping sites.

We were back in Kent in 2015 to update the Hotel Market Fact Files for Canterbury, Ashford, Medway and Sevenoaks, and in 2016 we are currently undertaking work to assess the potential for a hotel in Herne Bay.

‘Visit Kent would not hesitate to recommend Hotel Solutions. Their expertise and knowledge in the field alongside their professional approach made them a great company to work with. For us what was key is the time they spent to understand our needs and how they could deliver what we wanted within our resources. They came up with creative and practical solutions, providing clear advice and a robust evidence base for us to build upon.’

Ruth Wood, Research & Development Manager, Kent County Council


South East England


South East England

We have been working with Tourism South East for the past 15 years on a Hotel Sector Shortage programme from which we have developed our Hotel Futures research approach. This commenced with a regional study in 2001 followed by a subsequent rolling programme of county and local studies. The programme has resulted in a comprehensive databank of information on hotel performance across the region that TSE and the region’s local authorities regularly draw on in relation to hotel planning and investment work.


Our work in the South East has also included a series of seminars on hotel development for local authority planning and inward investment officers, together with the preparation of local authority guidance on attracting hotel investment and hotel planning policy relating to both new hotel development and the retention of existing hotels.  Hotel Solutions also presented this work and the guidance at a conference organised by Tourism South East in association with the Royal Town Planning Institute.


The Hotel Futures studies were identified by SEERA as good practice case studies in ‘Destination South East’ (the tourism sector document that informed the South East Plan policies), and the guidance prepared on Attracting Hotel Investment was endorsed by SEERA and sent to the ODPM as part of the evidence that informed the Good Practice Guide on Planning for Tourism.


‘Over the years we have commissioned Hotel Solutions on many occasions to undertake hotel market appraisals and support programmes encouraging hotel investment in our region. Their knowledge of the sector is second to none and their work is of the highest standard – thorough and packed with insight. Much of Hotel Solution’s’ work has stimulated new hotel investment in the South East or led to more informed planning policy. They are a rewarding company to work with that always goes the extra mile’.


Peter Colling, Managing Director, Tourism South East


Heather in bloom on lowland heathland, Rockford Common, Linwood, New Forest National Park, Hampshire, England, UK, sunrise, August 2011


Hotel Solutions has been working with Hampshire County Council since 2001 on an ongoing Hotel Futures Programme for Hampshire. Six Hotel Futures Studies have been undertaken over the past 14 years, the most recent in 2015. More detailed sites assessment and planning policy guidance work has also been undertaken for individual local authorities in the county. The County Council has also run a series of hotel investment seminars to disseminate the findings of the Hotel Futures Programme to local authority officers in the county.


More than twenty new hotels have opened in Hampshire since the Hotel Futures Programme first started. Many of these have been influenced by the data that has been produced through the Programme.  The work has been particularly valuable in the north of Hampshire where a large undersupply was identified, and where hotel development has since come forward, with 5 new hotels now open in Farnborough, Fleet and Aldershot.


Following the 2013 study, a programme of forward action has been put in place which Hotel Solutions was commissioned to lead on behalf of the Council.  This included a roadshow of presentations and workshops for city, district and borough councils in locations  where hotel shortages and potential for intervention were identified, followed by a hotel investment event in London which attracted over 30 hotel developers, operators and investors. Further work has been undertaken in 2015 to update the hotel performance and market information for Southampton, Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport and Havant to support ongoing hotel investment marketing activity for these destinations. Hotel Solutions has also been working with Portsmouth City Council to identify hotel sites in the city and bring them to the attention of the target brands that the City Council is keen to attract to Portsmouth. We are currently in discussions with Hampshire County Council, Rushmoor Borough Council and Farnborough International Ltd about progressing a Hotel Development Strategy for Farnborough during 2016.


‘Hampshire County Council has worked with Hotel Solutions since 2001 on the Hampshire Hotel Development Initiative. We and our district and unitary colleagues have always been impressed with the professionalism of both Lynn and Andrew and their ability to produce detailed but digestible insights into the performance of Hampshire’s hotel sector and then help deliver tangible investments from hotel developers. The 20+ new hotels and numerous hotel extensions in Hampshire since 2001 would not have happened without their help’.


Andrew Bateman, Tourism Manager, Hampshire County Council




The Essex Hotel Futures Study was undertaken by Hotel Solutions between September and December 2009 for Essex County Council and East of England Tourism. The study built on the research that Hotel Solutions undertook for East of England Tourism in 2008 to assess hotel developer interest in the East of England Region, by providing an in depth assessment of hotel performance and markets in Essex and a full analysis of the potential for hotel development in each part of the county, including Basildon.


The study showed potential for further hotel development in most parts of Essex in the medium to long term as regeneration and economic development schemes are progressed and new offices, business parks and industries are developed.  This included potential for:


  • A new 4 star hotel at Stansted Airport;
  • New 3 star hotels at Basildon, Chelmsford, Colchester, Southend Airport, Stansted Airport and Thurrock;
  • New budget hotels at Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Canvey Island, Chelmsford, Chigwell/Debden/Loughton, Clacton-on-Sea , Colchester, Harlow, Harwich, Maldon, Southend-on-Sea, Stansted Airport, Thurrock and Witham;
  • Country house hotels, given suitable properties for conversion, primarily small country house hotels in the west of the county and close to Basildon, Chelmsford, Brentwood and Thurrock;
  • Golf clubs to develop hotel accommodation;
  • Boutique hotels in Colchester and possibly Harwich, Clacton-on-Sea and Southend-on-Sea, Chelmsford, Brentwood and Braintree;
  • Serviced apartments in Basildon, Chelmsford, Brentwood, Colchester, Harlow, Southend and Thurrock, primarily through the letting of residential apartments on a serviced basis.


Alongside the progression of the countywide study, the county’s District and Borough Councils were given the opportunity to commission additional research, hotel demand projections, planning policy reviews, and bespoke reports for their area. Chelmsford, Harlow, Braintree and Maldon took up this offer and Tendring commissioned some work on hotel and guest house retention. Colchester and Basildon had already commissioned hotel studies from other consultants. Hotel Solutions also previously undertook a Hotel Futures Study for Brentwood in 2007.

We are currently in discussions with Visit Essex to look at updating the 2009 Essex Hotel Futures Study in 2016.


A significant number of hotels have opened in Essex since the Hotel Futures Study was completed in 2009, in most cases reflecting the opportunities that we identified for hotel development across the county:


  • Park Inn by Radisson, Southend-on-Sea – opened March 2010 (3 star/137 bedrooms);
  • Holiday Inn Southend Airport – opened October 2012 (4 star/ 129 bedrooms);
  • Premier Inn Southend-on-Sea (Eastern Esplanade) – opened February 2015 (budget/81 bedrooms);
  • Holiday Inn Express Colchester – opened November 2011 (upper-tier budget/ 101 bedrooms);
  • Greyfriars boutique hotel, Colchester – opened July 2015 (26 bedrooms);
  • Premier Inn Colchester Town Centre (Castle) – opened January 2016 (budget/85 bedrooms);
  • Premier Inn Chelmsford City Centre – opened August 2015 (budget/99 bedrooms);
  • Premier Inn Clacton-on-Sea (Seafront) – opened March 2015 (budget/66 bedrooms);
  • Premier Inn Stansted Airport – opened June 2012 (budget/303 bedrooms)


Plans have also been unveiled for a 131-bedroom hotel as part of Southend United FC’s planned new stadium at Fossetts Farm in Southend, and a 357-bedroom Hampton by Hilton upper-tier budget hotel at Stansted Airport;





Hotel Solutions completed a Hotel Futures Study for Bedford in 2014.  This was an up-date of a study previously undertaken in 2009.  The study sought to assess the future potential for hotel development in Bedford Borough to inform the content of the emerging Local Plan to 2032 in relation to policies on hotel development.

In line with national trends and recovery post-recession, the study found that the performance of Bedford’s hotels had turned a corner in 2014, boosted by increased activity in the film production sector as well as revitalisation of the construction industry.  Bedford is set to see substantial levels of growth – 19,000 new homes, 18,000 new jobs and a population increase of 33,000.    Much of this is focused on the Growth Area to the South West of the town, and in sectors that are productive for hotel roomnights. Significant improvements to transport and other infrastructure will support this growth, and create new opportunities for development, including potential hotel sites close to drivers of demand both within the town centre and around its major arterial roads and business parks.

In terms of potential in Bedford town itself, the study identified scope for boutique hotels through the conversion of suitable characterful properties or the re-positioning of existing hotels.  Potential was also identified for new budget hotels in the town centre.  In addition, the business parks along the A421, where much of the corporate market demand will come from, were identified as having potential for upper tier budget or 3 star hotel development.

This was a Borough-wide study that also took in a significant rural area with other demand drivers, presenting a range of potential hotel development opportunities.  These included country house hotels in Rural North Bedford, given suitable properties for conversion; the opening of hotels on golf courses, and hotel accommodation associated with watersports centres, wedding venues and corporate activity centres.

Post-study Bedford has seen active interest from a number of hotel operators and developers in both town centre and out of centre locations, and the Council is using its own land holdings and planning tools to influence and steer hotel development. A 100-bedroom Premier Inn budget hotel is currently planned for the Riverside North mixed-use development scheme in the town centre.

‘The report fully met our brief, was of a high quality, and was produced within agreed timescales. We have commissioned Hotel Solutions in the past and would be happy to do so again’.

Kim Wilson, Team Leader – Planning Policy, Bedford Borough Council




Hotel Solutions completed a Hotel Futures Study for Telford in 2013. The purpose of the study was to assess the potential for improving, developing and growing Telford’s hotel offer as the regeneration of the town centre and development of the Southwater convention quarter around the Telford International Centre come to fruition and the Telford economy grows over the next 20 years. The study involved an audit of the town’s hotel supply and how it had changed over the previous 5 years; a survey of hotel managers and owners to provide a clear picture of hotel performance and market demand; a review of the regeneration and economic development strategies for the town; consultations with the management of the International Centre; and a survey of hotel companies to gauge their interest in opening new hotels in Telford.

The study showed improving the quality of the town’s existing hotel stock to be a clear priority for the immediate future, including the introduction of further national and international hotel brands. It also showed immediate potential for a further budget hotel, the development of a serviced apartment operation, some form of ‘pop-up’ hotel to cater for the spikes in demand from major conferences, exhibitions and events at the International Centre, and possible scope for a destination country house hotel in the rural parts of the Borough, given a suitable property for conversion.

The work concluded with the preparation of a Telford Hotel Futures Action Plan setting out required actions for the period 2014-2019 to support hotel market recovery and growth in the Borough, upgrade Telford’s existing hotel stock, and capitalise on the short –term opportunities for hotel development. A new Premier Inn has since opened in the town centre in 2015.

‘Hotel Solutions provided very comprehensive research into the performance and future opportunities for the hotel sector in our destination. But it was their action plan that stood out, providing innovative ideas and approaches to help us with our hotel stakeholders to harness and drive growth and build a quality and distinctive hotel offer. The team are true experts in this field and it was a pleasure to work with them’.


Sarah Bird, Business Tourism Manager, Telford & Wrekin Council





Hotel Solutions has been working with the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (formerly The Mersey Partnership), Liverpool Vision and Liverpool City Council since 2000 to assist them with attracting and managing hotel developer interest in Liverpool. This has included undertaking six Hotel Futures Studies for the city, most recently in 2014. Following on from this latest Hotel Futures Study we have produced the Liverpool Hotel Investment Strategy for the period 2016-2020, which we are now assisting the Local Enterprise Partnership and City Council with implementing.


The development of Liverpool’s hotel industry has been one of the city’s major successes and a key contributor to Liverpool’s rise as a leading national and international leisure and business tourism destination, alongside the development of the city’s cultural, attractions and retail offer and the opening of the Arena & Convention Centre Liverpool in 2008 and the new Exhibition Centre Liverpool in September 2015. Liverpool’s hotel supply increased by 120% between 2005 and 2015, with the opening of 49 new hotels and serviced apartment operations and an additional 4,233 hotel bedrooms and serviced apartments.  The city’s hotel supply has expended further in 2016, with the opening of the 4 star Pullman Hotel at the new Exhibition Centre Liverpool (216 bedrooms) and an Easyhotel budget hotel in Castle Street (77 bedrooms). Liverpool has seen the emergence of new hotel products in terms of the rapid growth of boutique hotels and serviced apartments and the introduction of budget boutique hotels and aparthotels, alongside almost a doubling of the city’s 4 star and budget hotel supply.


The 2014 Liverpool Hotel Futures Study forecasts significant potential for additional hotel supply in Liverpool city centre through to 2020 as a result of:


  • Continuing strong weekend demand, further boosted by weekend consumer shows at the new Exhibition Centre Liverpool;
  • Further growth in midweek leisure demand from the UK and overseas leisure tourist markets;
  • Significant growth in demand from conventions at the BT Convention Centre as it wins more, larger and longer international and corporate conventions;
  • A significant boost to midweek demand from trade exhibitions at the new Exhibition Centre Liverpool;
  • Growth in contractor demand;
  • Some growth in corporate demand and residential conference business.


The hotel demand projections prepared as part of the Hotel Futures Study (updated in September 2015) suggest that in addition to the 2 hotels opening in 2016, the growth in Liverpool’s hotel market could require the development of between 250 and 1,100 new hotel rooms between 2016 and 2020, equating to between 2 and 8 additional new hotels. Room rates remain a key issue in Liverpool however: they are not currently at a level that will support commercially viable upscale hotel development, without some form of public sector subsidy or intervention. BPRA, which has been used to fund most of the new hotels that have opened in Liverpool city centre since 2011, will no longer be available after 2017. Rate growth is thus a clear priority to improve hotel profitability and ensure sustainable hotel development going forward. This will require new hotel development to be suitably paced to ensure that hotel supply increases in line with market growth and not ahead of it, which could result in oversupply.


The new 4 star and boutique hotels that have opened in Liverpool city centre in 2014 and 2015, together with the new Pullman hotel at Exhibition Centre Liverpool, should be largely sufficient to meet the requirements for additional supply at this level through to 2020, after which market growth is likely to support additional upscale supply. The greater requirement for the next 5 years is for additional midmarket and budget hotels (for which there are currently few proposals) and serviced apartments/aparthotels.  This reflects the fact that much of the market growth will be in the more price-sensitive leisure and trade exhibitor markets. The priority will be to develop a more distinctive midmarket and budget hotel offer in terms of attracting some of the new, innovative hotel products and brands that are emerging at these levels that can add greater choice and attract new markets.


The 2014 Hotel Futures Study clearly identifies the Waterfront and adjoining areas, including Kings Dock, The Strand and Historic Downtown, as the priority locations for hotel development, certainly for the period 2016-2020. ACC Liverpool and EC Liverpool will be key drivers of hotel growth in the city and will need to be supported by additional hotel supply within easy walking distance. The Waterfront is also likely to be the location of choice for the growing number of leisure tourists that will be coming to the city.


Other growth locations that provide potential to deliver new demand for hotel accommodation are:


  • The Lime Street Area, where new hotels can service visitors arriving by train, new leisure tourist demand as the St George’s Quarter develops as a focus of visitor activity, and new corporate and university demand arising from the development of the Knowledge Quarter;
  • Hope Street, as a proven location for boutique hotels;
  • Ropewalks as a potential location for small aparthotels and boutique hotels;
  • Princes Dock, where new offices are planned alongside a new, larger cruise terminal, both of which will generate increased demand for hotel stays;
  • In the longer term Liverpool Waters as a strong corporate hotel market develops here.


Hotel Solutions is now working with Liverpool City Region LEP and Liverpool City Council to promote the Hotel Investment Strategy to the city’s property development community and national and international hotel companies that are interested in investing in new hotels in Liverpool.





Bath & North East Somerset Council commissioned us to undertake a Hotel Futures Study for Bath in 2015. The purpose of the study was to provide an up-to-date assessment of the future potential and priorities for hotel development in Bath through to 2030, to inform the preparation, finalisation and implementation of a number of key strategy and policy documents, including the Bath Destination Management Plan, the Placemaking Plan for the city, and the Bath City Riverside Enterprise Area Masterplan. The study updates the Bath & North East Somerset Visitor Accommodation Study completed by The Tourism Company and Hotel Solutions in 2009.


Bath has seen an 18% increase in its hotel supply between 2009 and 2015, with the opening of a new Premier Inn in the city centre in 2013 (108 bedrooms) and the £16m, 5 star Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel in 2015 (99 bedrooms). There has also been a significant shift upmarket in the city’s hotel offer, through the conversion of a number of 2 and 3 star hotels to boutique hotels, and the upgrading of 3 and 4 star hotels to a 4 or 5 star standard. The city is set to see further hotel growth in 2016 and 2017, with the opening of a new budget boutique Z Hotel (148 bedrooms), a 4 star Apex Hotel (177 bedrooms), and the redevelopment of two hotels into a Hotel Indigo branded boutique hotel (121 bedrooms). Plans have also been unveiled for a third Travelodge budget hotel.


Our research found a very strong hotel market in Bath, with hotels of all standards trading well ahead of national averages. Achieved room rates are particularly high. Weekend demand is very strong: all of the city’s hotels consistently fill and turn business away on Saturday nights throughout the year, and Friday nights in the summer. Midweek and Sunday occupancies are more seasonal, but very strong throughout the summer. The Bath hotel market is largely leisure driven, Corporate demand is relatively weak. All indicators suggest good potential for future growth in demand for hotel accommodation in the city.


The study showed potential for significant hotel development in Bath. The most immediate requirement is for an additional budget/limited service hotel, particularly in terms of satisfying the growing corporate demand for lower-priced hotel accommodation in the city, and converting more of the day visitors that are staying in cheaper hotels surrounding the city into staying visitors. There is sufficient pipeline activity in terms of upscale, full service and boutique hotel provision that is coming on stream in 2016 and 2017: the market needs to absorb this new supply first before additional hotels are warranted at this level. There remains very strong interest however from hotel companies and independent hoteliers that would like to open upscale hotels in Bath. The study also showed potential for additional serviced apartment provision in Bath, and possibly an aparthotel.


In terms of moving forward we recommended that Bath & North East Somerset Council should:


  • Adopt a clear locational strategy for hotel development in the city in terms of prioritising prime sites in the historic core of the city for upscale, full service 4/5 star and boutique hotel development, and pushing budget/limited service and aparthotel development towards edge of city centre and riverside sites.
  • Plan for a greater number of additional hotel bedrooms in the city centre in the Placemaking Plan than were identified as being needed in the Core Strategy.
  • Adopt a more interventionist approach to hotel development in terms of its role of the owner of many of the key regeneration and development sites in the Bath City Riverside Enterprise Area, and through closer work with land and property owners to bring forward sites and buildings that would be suitable for hotel development.
  • Support existing hotels and guest houses through the effective management and improvement of the city’s public realm fabric; the further development of the city’s visitor offer; more effective marketing of Bath as a visitor destination, particularly in terms of boosting Sunday and Thursday business and winter trade; and bringing forward office development to grow corporate demand for hotel accommodation.


Isle of Man

Isle of Man

Isle of Man

Hotel Solutions completed a Hotel Futures Study for the Isle of Man in January 2016. The objective of the study was to make a robust, independent, evidence-based assessment of the potential for the future development of the Isle of Man’s hotel offer in terms of the upgrading of existing hotels, the development of new hotels, and the managed exit of poor quality stock.


The study found a hotel industry on the island that has been in decline for many years and that has fallen behind competitor island and resort destinations when it comes to the choice of hotel accommodation that the island now offers. However, with strategies now in place for economic, population and tourism growth over a longer season, the study shows clear potential for renewed growth in the island’s hotel market given investment in existing hotels and some new hotel provision, but concludes that the challenges of operating hotels on the island and funding hotel investment here will require Government intervention if the opportunities are to be fully realised.


Our research showed a need for additional hotel provision to grow peak season demand, cater for events-related business, and better meet the needs of the corporate market. We found evidence of shortages of good quality hotel and guest house accommodation in June, July, August and September for leisure break guests, event visitors and group visits. Our research suggested that these shortages will be exacerbated in the next few years as further poor quality large guest houses close as their owners retire and are unable to find buyers for their properties as going concerns. New supply will be needed to replace these losses, particularly for event periods. Market research undertaken for Isle of Man Tourism in 2015 clearly showed that there are sizeable potential British and Irish markets for leisure breaks on the island during the summer and potentially also the shoulder season, that can be attracted given improved marketing and additional hotel provision. New high quality and branded hotels should help to attract new business in terms of corporate demand that is currently being lost due to the quality of the current hotel offer, and leisure markets that can be attracted to higher quality hotels and through the brand strength, customer bases, national and international marketing and central reservations systems of branded hotels. It is however evident that new hotels are likely to dilute winter trade, as the potential for winter leisure demand on the island is very limited.


We concluded that the priority going forward is about renewing the island’s hotel offer, rather than significantly increasing its hotel stock.   This will require an integrated approach that accelerates investment in existing hotels and large guest houses alongside some new hotel development in terms of budget and boutique hotels, and possibly a new international brand 4 star hotel as part of a planned mixed use development in Douglas. There will also be a need to manage exit of poor quality stock that cannot feasibly be improved. We made eight key recommendations to the Isle of Man Government:


  • The establishment of a Hotel Investment Fund to accelerate investment in existing hotels and support the development of new hotels;
  • A ‘last ditch’ marketing programme to try to find buyers for the closed hotels and guest houses on Douglas seafront before letting these properties go for alternative uses;
  • A clear hotel planning policy and development management approach for hotel planning applications, based on the evidence contained in the Hotel Futures Study;
  • Exemption from the current work permit system for hotels and guest houses, in order to ease their staff recruitment problems;
  • A quality awareness programme for the island’s hotel and guest house owners, alongside marketing and business management training and advisory support;
  • The implementation of the new Destination Management Plan for the island in terms of improving destination marketing and events development to boost shoulder season demand;
  • Active engagement with Isle of Man and UK property developers, hotel companies and investors that could be interested in bringing forward hotel investment projects on the island;
  • The implementation of the economic development strategy for the island to grow corporate and contractor demand for hotel accommodation.


‘The work completed by Hotel Solutions was thorough and very professional.  It was well researched, robust and the final report was very well balanced, measured and independent.  The findings will be used to support and substantiate policies now and in the future. We would have no hesitation in using their services again.’


Angela Byrne, Head of Tourism, Isle of Man Government



East Leicestershire


East Leicestershire

Hotel Solutions completed a study in January 2015 for the East Leicestershire Local Action Group to assess the potential for tourist accommodation development in the East Leicestershire LEADER Area. The purpose of the study was to guide the allocation of LEADER funding to help increase and enhance the supply of tourist accommodation in East Leicestershire. The study included email and telephone consultations with the relevant officers of the District and Borough Councils and Leicestershire’s destination management organisation Leicestershire Promotions; a review of relevant tourism and economic development strategies; a detailed audit of the current supply of tourist accommodation; a review of extant and pending planning applications for tourist accommodation development projects; face-to-face and telephone interviews with hotel and visitor accommodation business owners and managers; a review of national trends in rural tourist accommodation development; and a survey of land and property owners co-ordinated through the NFU and CLA. The study identified potential for further hotel provision in the market towns of Market Harborough and Lutterworth, alongside opportunities across the area for boutique inns and restaurants with rooms; 5 star and boutique B&Bs; luxury holiday cottage complexes with leisure facilities; eco lodge parks; large holiday cottages for family and friend groups; the upgrading and expansion of existing touring caravan and camping sites; camping pod developments; and glamping sites.

The study recommended a more strategic and proactive approach to the allocation of LEADER funding through a focus on supporting 10 priority tourist accommodation development projects that will deliver the greatest benefits in terms of new employment and additional visitor numbers. It also recommended a programme of support for smaller tourist accommodation development projects in terms of advisory workshops and marketing skills training.