The Inn Collection Group MD discusses pub-hotel sector growth.

The Inn Collection Group managing director Sean Donkin says driving revenues for more hours is playing a key role in the continued growth of the UK’s Pub-hotel sector, as he addressed this year’s Annual Hotel Conference in Manchester.

One of the fastest-growing lodging sectors according to business advisory CBRE, the segment is benefiting from huge consumer demand to experience classic British hospitality.

With four new sites added to its portfolio already in 2022, the Newcastle-based operator is at the forefront of that growth in the north of England with a total of 31 sites now included in its estate.

And whilst his company’s current focus is presently trained towards its accommodation offering, Donkin, pushing guests to enjoy all the Inns have to offer remains an important driver.

“We have properties of between 12 and 100 rooms, with a focus on prime assets in towns and cities and we have strong food and beverage which is determined by location.

“The ancillary benefits come from having an asset that trades for 18 hours a day, not just 10 and whilst our mix is now leaning more to rooms, once developed we push our food and beverages.”

With sites in prime locations including the Lake District, Northumberland coast and North Yorkshire countryside, The Inn Collection Group’s sites have plenty to offer its guests, with Donkin believing that the Inns strengths lie in offering value for money.

“I don’t think guests have the view an inn is a cheaper accommodation option. It is about value for money. What we’re seeing is that our premium rooms are going first.”

“If there is more of a leisure component — lawns, countryside — then the average daily rate is higher too. There is also a massive premiumisation from guests who stay with dogs, and we have looked after them since 2008.”

With its “Buy and Build” approach to expansion continuing, Donkin also touched on the challenges his firm faces in recruiting the right staff to operate pubs with rooms, citing the suitability of experienced pub managers over those from the hotel trade.

He drew particular attention to the speed of welcoming guests and making their first experiences a positive one.

“To my mind, the hotel sector is prohibited by cross-training and the number of rules they have. People want their keys and then to be pointed in the right direction. It should take no longer to check in than it takes to pull a pint.”

The Inn Collection Group were joined on the panel by WH Brakspear & Sons and Redcat Pub Co.