Inability to book online is ‘holding back growth’

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North West hospitality businesses are reporting increased profits, but an inability to take online bookings is holding some businesses back, according to a survey.

The latest MHA Travel & Tourism Survey, conducted in partnership with Lancashire accountancy firm Moore and Smalley, indicates that 26 per cent of operators in the hotel and bed and breakfast sector are still unable to take online bookings. This is despite the fact that 50 per cent of respondents to the annual survey report a year-on-year increase in online bookings and a 16 per cent increase in the ability to take online bookings direct.

Judith Dugdale, head of the leisure and tourism team at Moore and Smalley, said: “This growth in direct transactions is good to see, especially as online booking agents have been increasingly dominating the UK hotel and bed and breakfast sector. This trend should lead to a greater online presence and more competitive offerings.”

The survey was conducted by MHA, the UK-wide association of chartered accountants and business advisors, of which Moore and Smalley is the North West member.

The results for 2015 point strongly towards growing business confidence and are encouraging for the development of the hospitality industry. Sixty four per cent of respondents reported an increase in profits over the past 12 months, representing a rising trend in domestic trading conditions, with 59 per cent saying that they expect to see an increase over the next 12 months.

One third of respondents still employ workers on zero hours contracts,