Budget hotel operators have welcomed the chance for better representation across the industry after details of a planned restructure at the British Hospitality Association (BHA) emerged.
Caterer has learnt that the BHA will host the inaugural meeting of its new Budget Hotel Committee next Monday, with representatives from companies including Travelodge and Premier Inn.
The board, which will focus on issues particular to the budget market, will co-exist alongside a Presidents' Committee, which will focus on wider industry matters.
The move followed a posting on Caterer's Editor's Blog in June by Guy Parsons, chief operating officer at Travelodge, in which he criticised the BHA for being too backward-looking and questioned whether budget hotels were "leaving the BHA behind".
BHA chief executive Bob Cotton is believed to have initiated talks with Travelodge following the blog, resulting in the restructure.
Travelodge chief executive Grant Hearn, who is expected to sit on the Presidents' Committee, would not be drawn on his company's influence over the BHA decision but welcomed the development.
"If the BHA is responding in this way, it's an enlightened move that we would applaud," he said.
"Bob Cotton has a track record of responding to changes in the industry and nobody can deny that it is right to add focus on a budget sector that is very much the engine room of the UK hotel market."
Patrick Dempsey, managing director of Premier Inn, agreed. "It's great that the BHA is now working with us specifically]," he said. "The budget sector is now so important and there may be things that we can lobby on directly."
Details of the restructure emerged in the week that research firm Mintel predicted that the budget hotel market would be worth £1.5b by 2012.
It found that the market, currently worth £1.1b, grew 38% between 2002 and 2006, three times as much as the overall UK hotel market (worth £11.2b), which increased by only 12% over the same period.
By Daniel Thomas
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