Brands Cummings and goings

This week saw viewers in the UK observe domestic tourist Dominic Cummings tell a select committee that if you copy and paste over your blog posts to change them you are not, in fact, changing them. You’re just keeping them current.

It didn’t make the European press other than in some quite amusing cartoons, largely because the point about Europe and the UK had already been made at Eurovision and those in Europeland are watching the UK to make sure there isn’t a repeat of all the fun and games with covid variants that we saw at Christmas. 

But away from whether the UK is a learning beast and onto whether the hotel brands are, as we catch up to the middle of the year and people start to think about the reality of the summer leisure market and what they can do to make things better in their businesses. 

Back when Cummings was testing his eyes looking at various Durham hot spots, we were all enjoying the Travelodge saga, which looked at one point as though it might involve a significant amount of converting to other brands. 

We heard this week from Accor as it celebrated domestic network growth of a third for its UK Ibis budget hotel network, following the opening of nine hotels with AGO Hotels, an alternative platform for hotel owners and operators.

Viv Watts, co-founder of AGO Hotels, said: “This has been a significant week for the whole industry, and it has been great to finally welcome our first guests. 

“The past few months have been particularly challenging for the sector, but we are proud that despite this, our portfolio has grown rapidly, highlighting continued confidence within the market. Now, as the industry reopens, we are looking forward to welcoming more hotels to join our hybrid lease platform, which guarantees rents and includes owners in the hotel’s profits.”

And it is a significant week, because a model which wasn’t expected to take off, has. Nine hotels was not the deluge that, at one point, it was thought possible, but that is nine groups of owners taking a leap with their financial futures.

So back to Cummings and his fun with copy and paste. At AGO, Watts and Lionel Benjamin came up with something new, something which gives owners another way. As the summer season reveals that the big brands don’t have as much access to the leisure market as they do to the loyalty-driven corporate market, will they have to go back and copy and paste their contracts to look wiser after the effect?

This autumn is likely to see the rug being pulled out from beneath many in the sector as government support subsides, the chance to see which hotels can stand on their own. Many are expected to fall, as the slavering investors sitting on their wall of money hope. Many will look to their brands to fill in the gap, something the brands are just plain unable to do.

What will their options be? Change to a similar brand? Go it alone? How will the brands respond? Around the same time that Travelodge was gripping us all, Marriott International and IHG were losing hotels to SVC. They weren’t fussed at the time  – not enough hotels to worry about – but at what volume will they be fussed? Airbnb has made no secret of needing city-centre hotels to fill in the gaps in its offering and will no doubt offer favourable rates. 

Is it time to get ahead of the Autumn rush and look again at those contracts? Cummings has shown that if you want to rewrite your role in history, you need to get ahead of the game. 

Scroll to Top