‘The phone never stops ringing,’ Eastbourne hotels see an increase in bookings

Two Eastbourne hotels said they have seen another boom in bookings since the end of lockdown.

Wednesday, 18th August 2021, 11:58 am

Two Eastbourne hotels said they have seen another boom in bookings since the end of lockdown.

Lockdown across the country ended on July 19 and residents have been making the most of their freedom by booking staycations.

The owner of Langham Hotel in Royal Parade Neil Kirby said, “Business has certainly gone up.

Langham Hotel, Eastbourne (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-180115-092811008

“Ever since we opened on May 16 it has gone up.

“The phone never stops ringing. We have had to hire more staff on reception.”

Port Hotel managing director Peter Cadwallader said, “It is going really well. On the whole we are having really positive feedback.

“Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.

Peter Cadwallader from the Port Hotel SUS-210628-103828001

“It is great to see a hotel that is full of people who are happy.”

Mr Cadwallader said the Royal Parade hotel is at 95 per cent capacity most weeks and could be at 100 if they didn’t close off rooms.

Mr Kirby said, “It is fantastic. It is great for me and my business and my staff. It keeps my staff employed.

“It is great for the town and the shops. It cascades down to the coffee shops and the taxi drivers. Long may it continue.”

Owner of the Langham Hotel on Royal Parade Neil Kirby celebrates the award of the prestigious AA 4* rating. E49012P ENGSUS00120131129124719

A new study from Saga Travel suggested 36 per cent of Britons have been unable to book staycations for a number of reasons including demand.

Mr Cadwallader said, “We want this to be just as popular in the winter as it is in the summer, but we will have to work hard in promoting that.

“There is naturally going to be a trail off in the winter.

“We bought the hotel before the pandemic. We did not know this was going to happen and there was already a trend of more staycations.

“There was really a trend of people coming back to the traditional seaside towns in the UK.”

Mr Kirby said he believes tourists will be keen to come back to Eastbourne in the future.

He said, “We still need to make sure that customers return next year. That is what we are trying to do with great service.

“I am very confident. We have got great service.

“We want them to come back next year, and the year after, and the year after.

“They might still go abroad but their next holiday might be in Eastbourne.”

Mr Cadwallader said, “If seaside towns play their cards right, they can really benefit from the pandemic and there was already a trend of people moving back to what were very popular seaside towns.

“I think it is really an opportunity for towns like Eastbourne to push on now.”

Mr Kirby added, “It is a great town and a great destination.

“There is a lot in the town for people. They want to come to a place that is nice.

“People will return to Eastbourne.”

Despite the boost in bookings, Mr Cadwallader said his hotel had been hit by the ‘pingdemic’.

According to the managing director, the hotel’s kitchen had to close for two nights as their chef was required to isolate

Mr Cadwallader said, “It is really difficult because we are all quite tired and exhausted.

“We get in at 10 o’clock at night and you are worried about a text coming through.”

Fortunately for hospitality businesses, staff who are double-vaccinated and have been ‘pinged’ no longer have to isolate – but they are advised to take a PCR test.

Eastbourne Borough Council lead cabinet member for tourism and culture Councillor Margaret Bannister said, “We have certainly seen a huge boost in trade this summer with rooms sold at a premium, just at a time when our businesses most need it.

“The council has worked closely with our industry partners throughout the pandemic, along with fellow destinations across Sussex, to support the reopening of our economy. This is particularly evident with our Eastbourne Hospitality Association partnership, which has provided both Covid-Ready reassurance and digital marketing campaigns to bring new audiences to the town, creating lasting memories and positive associations with the town for future visits.

“We’re doing everything we can to extend the staycation boom and this includes additional events as we approach the autumn and winter, including our brand new Soapbox Racing event on September 26, and more events and Welcome Back Funded initiatives to be announced soon.

“It is next year however that we face a bigger challenge, and in fact to address this we have already begun work on our 2022 Holiday Guide, working hard to capitalise on these new audiences, with campaigns planned to generate future visits for the benefit of our local businesses.

“We were one of the few destinations to produce a new holiday brochure this year, and along with our partnership marketing campaigns such as Love Eastbourne and Bonus Breaks, we are now seeing the benefits of this.

“For those who would like to join in the 2022 Holiday Guide and VisitEastbourne website, now is the time to get involved, please do get in touch with the tourism team at [email protected]