AS the pandemic has shown us, there are some things we’re prepared to live without and there are some we’re not. Loo roll falls into the former camp, along with petrol and pet food, but a shortage of fizzy drinks and kids’ toys is probably survivable (although a six-year-old may disagree).
Where you stand on clean bed linen and towels, however, probably depends on whether we’re talking about at home or at an hotel.
Numerous hotels across the UK have reported that they have been forced to limit bed linen changes and this is something that has proven to be a real headache for Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), owner of the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotel chains.
The problem is in its outsourcing of linen and towel supplies. It first surfaced as a potential problem when a surge in ‘staycations’ coincided with a shortage of staff at commercial laundries, which meant they simply could not keep up with demand.
Its solution has been to limit daily bed linen changes at some hotels for guests staying multiple nights. Of course, the hotel industry is not alone when it comes to worker shortages and supply chain disruption. But it does mean that for hotels a shortage of bed sheets, towels, restaurant napkins and tablecloths, has forced many of them to keep occupancy “significantly below” 2019 levels.
Mere months ago the pandemic-blighted hotels sector was hopeful of a swift recovery, after months in lockdown. As soon as restrictions were eased, and with little prospect of overseas travel, UK holidaymakers made the most of the British summer on home shores. Hotels were soon bustling with much-needed holidaymakers and domestic business travellers.
During the six months to the end of June, InterContinental Hotels swung to a profit as easing pandemic restrictions supported a recovery in travel and boosted hotel demand.
Pre-tax profits came in at $67 million compared with a loss of $275 million the year before, while revenue fell 16% to $1.18 billion. The company reported a “significant” improvement in demand during the first-half of the year, resulting in room revenue down 43% on 2019, but up 20% on 2020.
Current occupancy numbers and more detail on how the current staffing and supply chain issues are affecting the group will no doubt become clear when IHG gives its third quarter trading update on Friday (22 October).
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