The hospitality industry should be doing more to make its voice heard as the government negotiates the terms of Brexit, Travelodge's chief executive told delegates at the 28th European Hotel Investment Conference.
Peter Gowers (pictured) said that despite the 4.5 million people it employs, the industry was "punching well below its weight" as a result of its fragmented nature.
"We do need to act as a more joined up force," he said at the Deloitte-organised event at London's Dorchester hotel. "Not everyone is comfortable with lobbying government, but it would be money well spent."
Gowers, who will be overseeing the opening of 19 Travelodge hotels this year, suggested that as well as stressing to government the benefits to the economy created by the hospitality industry's extensive workforce, there was also a need to make a case for the investment that is being poured into the industry.
"The government respects real investments and the Treasury would respond well to who is putting money into UK hospitality industry over the next five to 10 years," he explained. "This is likely to get more traction than just talking about how we operate our businesses."
Tony Troy, chief executive of Principal Hotel Company, agreed that the industry should be talking more about the numbers of businesses that are involved in buying, developing and constructing hotels, often supported by councils in the regions.
He said that many local authorities in cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool had been pro-active in encouraging hotel development. "For instance, the council in Liverpool has supported us in our development of a 220-bedroom hotel in the Martins Bank building because it wants to see a five-star hotel in the city centre, as well as help fund the building of a Pullman hotel adjacent to the conference centre."
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