Half of Choice Hotels Europe’s hoteliers believe the hotel sector will see a sustained upturn in 2014, up from 28% who expressed similar sentiment for this year.
Only a quarter (25%) disagreed, fewer than the 41% last year who felt an upturn in 2013 was unlikely, an annual poll of 118 of the franchise hotel group’s hoteliers in the UK, France, Germany and Italy found.
Individual market comparisons reveal that UK hoteliers are the most confident (70%) compared to 38% of German hoteliers.
When asked to predict the leading travel industry trend for 2014, almost two thirds (65%) pointed to a growth in mobile bookings, while just under a quarter (24%) thought social networking channels would establish a foothold in travel bookings.
The third annual ‘pulse-check’ study also shows that the time spent responding to online travel reviews is increasing annually.
Sixty three per cent 63% of respondents estimate they spend between one to three hours each week reading and responding to online travel reviews about their hotel, compared to 61% last year.
However, 6% now spend up to half a day responding to reviews, double the amount recorded last year, with 14% of British hoteliers claiming to dedicate a whole afternoon each week in order to respond.
Other individual market analysis revealed that French respondents were almost equally split between spending less than an hour a week responding and between one and three hours.
Five per cent of German hoteliers spend less than an hour a week on this activity. The majority (87%) ranked price and value as the most important hotel feature to secure repeat business.
Room quality, which topped the poll in previous surveys, is now ranked second. A substantial 86% of UK hoteliers ranked staff service as the most important feature to ensure guests return to their hotels.
There was a divided response as to what room rates may do next year. Just over a third (37%) believe that 2014 room rates will return to pre-financial crisis levels, while 40% disagreed.
More than half (52%) of German hoteliers disagreed in comparison to 51% of British hoteliers who believe room rates would trend upwards as did 44% of French respondents.
Stepping up sales and marketing activities to attract new hotel customers remains the number one business priority for next year.
When it comes to securing additional finance for their hotels, the majority do not see banks changing their lending patterns with 61% believing 2014 will not bring any change in lending patterns.
British hoteliers are the most optimistic as over a third believe banks will begin to lend more in 2014. The least optimistic are the Italians (42%) who think banks will lend even less than in 2013.
Duncan Berry, UK chief executive of Choice Hotels Europe, said the survey showed that confidence is returning to Europe’s hotel sector.
“Our respondents also predict that hotel rooms being booked from mobile devices will be the travel trend to watch out for next year,” he added.
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