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.


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.




County Durham

Hotel Solutions completed a comprehensive assessment of the future potential for hotel and visitor accommodation development in County Durham in 2012. The study looked at the potential for all forms of visitor accommodation including hotels, guest houses, B&Bs, farmhouse B&Bs, pub accommodation, holiday cottages, touring caravan and camping sites, glamping , holiday lodge parks, caravan holiday home parks, youth hostels, bunkhouse barns and outdoor activity holiday centres.

The study involved a comprehensive audit of all of these forms of visitor accommodation across the county; a survey of over 150 accommodation operators to gather occupancy data and market information; a review of likely future drivers of growth in accommodation demand across the county; a survey of developers, operators and investors of hotels and other forms of visitor accommodation to test potential interest and requirements; assessment of over 100 sites put forward as having potential for some form of visitor accommodation development; forecasting of hotel demand for Durham City; and review of relevant planning policy and strategy documents. Hotel Solutions was able to provide added value through building on our on-going national accommodation trends monitoring to deliver this module at limited cost, and also through using our established network of developer and investor contacts to warm up interest in opportunities which the client group picked up on as soon as the study was completed.




Hotel Solutions undertook a detailed analysis of Wiltshire’s hotel and visitor accommodation sector and its future development potential in 2014. The study was commissioned by the county’s destination management organisation, Visit Wiltshire, with funding support from the Wiltshire and Swindon Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). It involved an in depth analysis of the county’s hotel and visitor accommodation supply; current performance and market demand; national trends; the competitive environment; the potential for future growth in demand; and hotel and visitor accommodation developer interest in the county.

The study showed significant potential for hotel and visitor accommodation development across Wiltshire, including opportunities for:

  • Additional luxury country house hotels;
  • Further golf hotels and resorts;
  • Boutique hotel development in Salisbury, Bradford-on-Avon, Corsham, Malmesbury, Marlborough and Devizes;
  • Additional budget hotel provision in Swindon, Salisbury, Amesbury and Chippenham;
  • An aparthotel in Swindon town centre;
  • Boutique inns;
  • Restaurants with rooms;
  • Further high quality self-catering holiday cottages;
  • Holiday lodge and eco lodge parks;
  • Campsites;
  • Glamping developments;
  • Camping pods;
  • Hostel accommodation in Salisbury.

The report concludes with a five-year Action Plan that aims to create an additional 2,000 jobs in Wiltshire’s hotel and visitor accommodation sector by 2020. It includes actions related to identifying sites and properties for hotel development and larger scale accommodation schemes; a clear strategy for hotel investment in Swindon; the development of pub accommodation and glamping; and business support and training programmes for accommodation operators. As a result of the study VisitWiltshire has identified expressions of interest from 24 potential accommodation developers and investors and is now pursuing leads for new serviced apartments, glamping products, holiday lodge parks, a children’s activity holiday centre, quality pub accommodation, and country house hotels.

South Downs National Park


South Downs National Park

Hotel Solutions completed a Visitor Accommodation Review for the South Downs National Park in December 2014. The purpose of the review was to provide an objective assessment of the opportunities and requirements for building the future capacity, quality and profitability of the visitor accommodation sector across the National Park, and to provide guidance on the roles that the South Downs National Park Authority and its partners can play to achieve this. Hotel Solutions had previously completed hotel and visitor accommodation studies for a number of districts that covered part of the National Park, including East Hampshire, Chichester, Worthing, Adur, Lewes and Wealden. The South Downs study sought to update these previous studies and fill in the gaps for areas that had not previously been looked at, to give complete coverage of the National Park.

The study involved a comprehensive programme of research including an audit of current visitor accommodation provision across the National Park; a survey of accommodation business managers and owners conducted through structured telephone interviews; interviews with holiday cottage letting agencies; a review of trends in rural and market town visitor accommodation development; stakeholder consultations with key SDNPA managers; reviews of relevant policy and strategy documents and the previous hotel and visitor accommodation studies covering parts of the National Park; an online survey of land and property owners; and a telephone survey of visitor accommodation operators, developers and investors.

The research provided evidence of:

  • A visitor accommodation sector that is performing very strongly at weekends and during the week in the peak summer months, with frequent shortages of all types of accommodation at these times.
  • Strong demand for high quality accommodation.
  • Clear prospects for future growth in the demand for all types of visitor accommodation in the National Park.
  • Good potential for the South Downs to capitalise on many of the current and emerging rural visitor accommodation development trends.
  • Some clear gaps in current accommodation provision, including hotel provision in the market town of Petersfield and gaps in accommodation supply along the South Downs Way.
  • Strong interest from national, regional and local visitor accommodation developers, operators and investors, as well as from land and property owners interested in visitor accommodation development.
  • A largely leisure driven and seasonal market for visitor accommodation, suggesting a need for incremental supply growth in order to avoid overly diluting winter trade.

The study recommended a positive and flexible planning policy approach that supports appropriate visitor accommodation development in the National Park and allows the economic, environmental and social benefits from accommodation development to be maximised, whilst also ensuring that the natural and cultural heritage of the National Park is safeguarded. The study also made a number of recommendations for actions by SDNPA and its partners to accelerate investment in the National Park’s visitor offer and more proactively support the growth and sustainability of the visitor accommodation sector across the South Downs.