City council report illustrates how the hotel sector has enjoyed huge growth since Liverpool celebrated being European Capital of Culture a decade ago with capacity almost doubling. Tony McDonough reports
More than 2m hotel rooms were booked in Liverpool in 2017 with the sector continuing to see year-on-year growth in revenues and expansion of capacity.
A report from the city council illustrates how the hotel sector has enjoyed huge growth since Liverpool celebrated being European Capital of Culture a decade ago.
Occupancy levels and profit-per-room (revpar) are all rising despite their being almost double the number of hotel rooms in the city than there were in 2008. October 2017 saw the highest ever weekend average revpar peak at £104.63.
The figures reflect the rise in value of the Liverpool city region visitor economy which is now estimated to be worth around £4.3bn a year.
In 2008 Liverpool had 37 hotels, apart hotels and guesthouses with a total of 3,481 bedrooms. That has now risen to 67 new locations offering a total of 6,600 bedrooms.
The report adds that since 2008, £378m has been spent on building new hotels or refurbishing existing ones and in the past year a further £21m has been invested with two new hotels opening – the 77-bedroom budget easyHotel on Castle Street and the 16 boutique bedrooms in the Lock & Key Hotel at 17 Duke Street.
And the Feathers Hotel in Mount Pleasant extended into an adjoining building to add 17 rooms to its existing stock of 64 and was renamed the Hallmark Inn. Around 140 new jobs were created in the sector last year.
At the time of Capital of Culture some critics questioned the wisdom of expanding LIverpool’s hotel capacity, expressing doubt there would be enough visitors to fill the rooms.
However, those fears have proven to be unfounded with the growth of events at the ACC Liverpool arena and convention centre complex and in the number of cruise vessels coming into the river all helping to drive the boom.
The council report specifically looked at January to October last year, comparing it to the same period in previous years although the the 2m-plus rooms sold figure was for the whole year and was the eighth successive annual rise and a rise on the 1.98m sold in 2016.
Occupancy and revenues
For the 10-month period average occupancy was 78.6%, up from 76.7% in 2016 with weekend occupancy at 90.2%, a rise from 89.1% in 2016, and weekday occupancy also up to 76.8% from 75.8%.
Average room rate for January to October 2017 was £74.31 against £72.19 in 2016. Average revpar for the period rose to £58.94 from £56.16. Average weekend revpar saw the biggest rise (10.3%) from £81.93 in 2016 to £90.41 in 2017.
And the expansion in capacity is continuing. Last week Signature Living, which operates several hotels and apart hotels in the city, said its £10m, 100-room Dixie Dean Hotel in Victoria Street would be open later this year.
Marcus Magee, co-chair of the Liverpool Hospitality Association and general manager of the city centre Hilton Hotel, told LBN: “2017 saw the return of the Open Golf Championship to Merseyside with hotel occupancy at 100%, probably for seven or eight days around the event.
“We are also seeing more conventions coming to the city and and increase in the number of people staying on Friday and Saturday nights. Sunday to Thursday remains our biggest challenge and we need a bigger corporate market to boost occupancy at those times.
“The most important thing for us is to help create a strategy to make Liverpool a seven-day-a-week destination. The events for the Liverpool 2018 celebrations present us with a premium opportunity.”
Councillor Wendy Simon Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Events, added: “2017 has been another outstanding year for Liverpool’s hotel sector.
“Yet again, despite more hotel rooms and serviced apartments opening here, occupancy levels have continued to rise.”