Half of UK hoteliers expect 2012 to be a more profitable year than 2012, despite the fact that only 19% expect the economy to improve overall.

That's the finding from new research by TripAdvisor, which surveyed 9,000 accommodation owners and managers worldwide, of whom 1,100 were UK owners.

The survey found that 85% of UK accommodation owners reported being profitable in 2011, making the UK the third most profitable region surveyed.

They were also optimistic about their businesses' profitability in 2012, with 50% expecting to be more profitable this year, compared with a global average of 58%.

But only 19% of respondents believed the economy would improve in 2012, compared with the global average of 38%.

And UK businesses were cautious about hiring new staff, despite the relative optimism in the sector, with just 12% saying they were planning to create new jobs, trailing the global industry average of 22%.

Worryingly, less than half of the UK's hospitality industry plans to engage with travellers using mobile devices in 2012, putting them behind the global response of 53%.

"The TripAdvisor Industry Index reveals a scepticism among UK accommodation owners. Despite being one of the most profitable regions in 2011, they are cautious with their business plans for 2012 owing to concerns over the country's economic recovery," said Christine Petersen, president of TripAdvisor for Business.

"Hoteliers' plans to engage with travellers using social media and mobile devices are also important trends this year," Petersen said. "While it's encouraging to see so many planning to respond to online guest reviews in 2012, TripAdvisor's data show that only 15% of property reviews currently have management responses. The owners and managers who follow through on plans to respond to reviews will have an advantage over their competition. "

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By Neil Gerrard

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