The past few years have, to coin a phrase, been one long kick in the face for the sector. But things have been looking up. People want to get away, preferably from it all and they have been prepared to pay to do so. The hotel sector in particular has swung rapidly to focus on the luxury sector to feed the demand; an unusual move when shaky economies usually drive a move to, well, economy.
It would be fair to say that in the first summer after restrictions were lifted, there was talk of profiteering. Even had that been the case, after months of no trading at all, no-one could be blamed for trying to build a reasonable average.
But conditions have changed and merely looking at prices is too restrictive a picture. Many venues, particular hotels, cannot find the team to open fully. A high rate when only half your rooms can open is not such a high rate after all. Add onto that the raging cost of energy, food, other basic supplies and suddenly having the blame for the recent inflation figures laid at your door seems, well, not so friendly.
Enter Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey, who told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, said: “I would say to people who are setting prices – please understand if we get inflation embedded, interest rates will have to go up further and higher inflation really benefits nobody.”
David Bharier, head of research, the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The main drivers of inflation – restaurants and hotels, food, and clothing – confirm the pressure we see on the hospitality and retail sectors. The longer this goes on, the greater the impact on businesses and consumers as much higher prices become the norm.”
In other words, Bailey should know better and blaming others when inflation comes under your purview is a little mealy mouthed to say the least. But the levers Bailey has to pull are themselves limited and crude. It instead falls on the government to manage energy costs, consider a VAT cut, allow more overseas workers and reverse Brexit so that we can all get a tomato at a reasonable price. Looking at that list, maybe it is easier just to blame hospitality.