Budget hotels should include breakfast in room rates if they want to continue to attract more new customers, according to a report by market research company Mintel.
Mintel values the budget hotel market at 914m, but it claims growth will slow to just 7% in 2005. This is still ahead of the overall UK hotel market, which has stagnated over the past five years, but is evidence of a worrying trend.
To rectify this, Mintel's research pinpointed that including breakfast within room rates was the most important factor in attracting customers to stay.
However, most leading budget hotels specifically exclude breakfast in their room rates and disagree with the report's findings.
Premier Travel Inn's head of communications, Keith Hardy, said cost was the most important factor in the budget hotel sector.
"We have to offer good value for money at a transparent price structure if we are to attract customers," he said. "Many guests do not want breakfast, and including it in the room rate makes it harder for them to see exactly what they are being charged for."
This view was echoed at other budget hotel companies, which believe that, in the budget sector, customers should have a choice of whether to have breakfast or not.
Greg Dawson, director of communication at Travelodge, said: "There's no such thing as a complimentary breakfast, and when you provide competitive low-cost accommodation you must offer guests the choice of whether they want breakfast or not."
But a spokesperson for Express by Holiday Inn, which does offer inclusive breakfast, disagreed, saying: "We understand that our customers have a budget and want to know exactly how much they will have to pay.
"Our guests don't want to have to budget for a room then budget for breakfast as well."
By Kerstin Kuhn
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