Hoteliers in York warn of a ‘digital timebomb’ as indoor hospitality reopens

HOTELIERS in York are celebrating the return of indoor hospitality with a heartfelt plea for guests to avoid last-minute cancellations.

The Hospitality Association York (HAY) is warning of a digital timebomb as the online trend continues, with people ‘stacking’ their bookings for both accommodation and tables and then deciding at the eleventh hour which one to keep.

Hospitality leaders in the city say this is causing a major headache for many businesses who are just starting to get back on their feet.

Martin Bradnam, chair of HAY and general manager of Doubletree by Hilton, said: “We recognise the many benefits the move to digital has brought to our industry in the last 12 months.

“From keeping many businesses afloat offering takeaway and home delivery services to streamlining booking and ordering processes.

“However, there is another side to this trend. We are now seeing customers book multiple options for both their dining and accommodation options and deciding as late as the day of the visit and cancelling.

“This is leading to a loss of revenue as our capacity remains limited and any bookings that are not redeemed become lost space.”

HAY is calling on local and regional partners to promote the message of ‘Book Direct, Arrive and Enjoy’ to ensure that everyone can enjoy their hospitality experience this summer.

They are also calling for Online Travel Agents (OTAs) and other platforms to re-think their deposit policy which only offers a limited range of options which are causing a barrier to entry for many potential customers.

Rebecca Hill, HAY committee member, Chair of indie York and owner of Galtres Lodge in the city centre, added: “We have seen the big platforms, including Booking.com, change their policy to only offer a small number of limited deposit options –taking no deposit, which is not feasible currently, taking half of the bill in advance, or taking the full amount.

“This can be a real barrier for many of our customers and for an industry focused on welcoming people these options deliver the exact opposite. We are looking to re-instate a pre-Covid policy of flexible rates of deposits, to allow businesses, who understand their customers, to set their own rates. Our message to customers is ‘Book Direct, Arrive and Enjoy’ to help support hospitality this summer.”

York Press | News