Adrian Ellis, general manager of Manchester's luxury Lowry hotel, has said he hopes the end of heightened restrictions in the city will herald confidence in its hospitality and tourism sectors.
People in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire are currently banned from meeting different households indoors, however speaking to The Caterer, Ellis said he hopes these restrictions will be lifted in the next week or two.
Ellis, who is also chair of the Manchester Hoteliers Association (MHA) of more than 50 properties, said hoteliers in the city were seeing "reasonable" weekend occupancy of approximately 40%-50%, mostly leisure guests.
However, the restrictions have impacted Manchester's events and restaurant business and future bookings: "People are a bit nervous to book things in Manchester at the moment… We don't expect a massive rise in business in terms of events for the remaining months of this year, but once the relaxation is done on the local regulations, we do expect some demand for the autumn, and hopefully Christmas will be sacrosanct."
The hotelier said hopes are being pinned on 2021, for which events business is looking up, particularly in the second quarter.
To stimulate demand for this autumn, he is working with Marketing Manchester to sell the city as a safe place, and the city's hotels will be taking part in the Night On Us campaign, where hotels will offer three nights for the price of two.
Meanwhile, due to the lower occupancy levels and restrictions on capacity to just two people for its gym facilities, the hotel has also turned four of its bedrooms into ‘gym pods' with weights, a treadmill and mats, available for guests to book.
Although the city was set to see 26 new hotels open by 2023, Ellis said he foresees investors either pushing back their construction timelines or exploring alternative uses for their buildings. This, he said, could allow existing properties to find their feet again before the new rooms enter the market.
However, in the short-term, his 165-bedroom hotel has not been immune to the impact of Covid-19, and like many hotels he has had to enter consultation with staff to explore redundancies.
Ellis said: "We will be letting a small number go and that is really reacting to the current times we're seeing with a lot less revenue coming through."
MHA has supported Marketing Manchester's creation of an online talent hub, offering support to the "number of redundancies in the city" that are anticipated, including advertising job opportunities and providing free training and advice.
"At least we have something to go back to our colleagues with to provide some sort of support network to hopefully go and find opportunities in other industries," he said.
"We trying our best to leave [them] with a positive message, try to help and support these people through the coming months with other alternatives, training or advice and support, on the basis that hopefully they will return to us when times are better."
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