The recent removal of lockdown restrictions has resulted in a welcome boost to business for many Bristol hotels.
For months hoteliers have been hoping to see confidence increase enough to encourage companies to start booking conferences and large events, a vital source of income for hospitality businesses.
The Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) says bookings are now picking up for large corporate events, leading to cautious optimism that its members may finally be able to put the pandemic behind them and look to a brighter future.
BHA Chair Raphael Herzog said: “Bookings are picking up in regards to large corporate events, which is very encouraging.
“We are hoping that many more companies will now want to play catch up, as they have not been able to host events or gatherings for the past two years.
“While many companies have changed the way they work as a result of the pandemic, with some still working from home and others adopting hybrid working practices, there is no substitute for getting together with your colleagues face-to-face.
“And there is no better place to do it than one of the BHA hotels, which have all made significant investments in creating Covid-safe environments.
“We are hoping that many companies will be looking to push the boat out this Christmas, too, and after the deep disappointment of missing out in Christmas 2021, we are optimistic that business will be very strong this Christmas.
“The past two years have been extremely difficult because of the impact of the pandemic, which has hit the hospitality industry particularly hard.
“The increase in corporate event bookings has been the vote of confidence we have been waiting for, and once people see that conferences and other large gatherings can happen safely, more businesses will follow suit.”
It’s not just bookings for events at their hotels which have given BHA members cause for optimism.
News that the world-famous Bristol Balloon Fiesta is returning in 2022 and that Ashton Gate is hosting what has been billed as the “greatest extreme sport spectacular of the decade” on 4 June are expected to draw thousands of visitors to the city from far and wide, many of whom will want somewhere to stay.
Mr Herzog said: “The return of corporate bookings as well as confirmation of some very large events for the city which will bring many visitors and tourists suggest that the future really is looking brighter for our businesses.
“There are still many challenges to overcome. VAT returns to 20% in April and we are still struggling to recruit all the staff we need. There are also increasing fuel and food costs, all of which cause us difficulties.
“But the return of big events, both to our hotels and the city as a whole, is cause for optimism.”