Leading budget hotel group Travelodge has taken the surprise decision to resign from the British Hospitality Association (BHA), saying that it can best lobby the Government as an individual company.
Guy Parsons, who is replacing Grant Hearn as chief executive on 1 July, having been promoted from his current position as managing director, said that he had taken the decision to step aside from the BHA following a company review. He believes that Travelodge has better opportunity to transform the hotel industry as an individual company, rather than lobbying via the BHA, which he describes as a "traditional body which represents the full hospitality sector from B&Bs to large corporate organisations."
In 2007 the BHA held a meeting for budget hotel operators to discuss the issues they faced, after Travelodge had accused it of "failing to note the rise of the budget hotel sector".
Parsons said that Travelodge had already championed a number of successful campaigns such as Say No to Bed Tax and Save our Seaside, which focused on the need to revitalise costal economies. "More recently we organised an industry-wide coalition that called on the mayor of London not to introduce his proposed hotel development tax," he added.
"We have an aggressive growth plan in place, which will more than double the size of Travelodge hotels over the next 10 years. We plan to do this by building new hotels and purchase existing struggling hotels and turning them into Travelodge properties. I think it's entirely inappropriate that we should be part of the BHA at a time when we could be acquiring other members' businesses."
"The BHA has a role to play in representing the hospitality sector but we believe that our interests are now better served outside the organisation. We are an industry that punches below our weight.
Outgoing BHA chief executive Bob Cotton said that he was surprised that Travelodge has taken this decision now when its membership ran until the end of the year.
"By then the world will be a different place and Travelodge may well have a different owner," he said. "I expect my successor, Ufi Ibrahim, will engage in a dialogue with Travelodge after she takes over as BHA chief executive next month."
Cotton added that Travelodge would find it difficult to lobby Government as a company on its own as Government ministers generally did not like to talk to individual businesses, preferring instead to talk to industry bodies. "Perhaps they may want to plough their own field as they have a different view from the rest of the industry," he said.
With 28,000 bedrooms in 380 hotels across the UK, Travelodge is the second-largest budget hotel company behind Premier Inn.
By Janet Harmer
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