The Westmorland GazetteStormy year for Lake District B&Bs and hotels as rain batters area (From The Westmorland Gazette)

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Stormy year for Lake District B&Bs and hotels as rain batters area

The Westmorland Gazette: Tony Blaney, chair of the Lakes Hospitality Association and owner of the Fairfield Garden Guest House, Bowness Tony Blaney, chair of the Lakes Hospitality Association and owner of the Fairfield Garden Guest House, Bowness

TOURISM businesses across South Lakeland are taking a major hit as the ‘wettest year on record’ threatens to cripple trade well into the New Year.

Accommodation providers and owners of eateries and attractions say there has been a dramatic fall in the number of day trippers and holidaymakers because of the ‘devastating and unprecedented’ weather.

And they expect to be counting the cost of the deluge well into the New Year, with bookings for Easter already showing signs of drying up.

Now they face having to hike up prices in a bid to claw back earnings.

Met Office figures reveal that 2012 was Cumbria’s 10th wettest year since records began in 1910 with rainfall topping 1,890mm in Westmorland - 200mm up on the previous year.

Tony Blaney, chair of the Lakes Hospitality Association and owner of the Fairfield Garden Guest House, Bowness, said: “Bookings over New Year have been down by about 50 per cent and those we did get were last minute.

“Projected bookings for the next three months are down by about a third.

“People don’t want to book a holiday when it’s raining outside.

“The problem is that for the price of a holiday in an expensive area like this, you could get a week in Spain.”

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Caroline Langham, owner of the Cote How Organic Guest House and Tearoom at Rydal, revealed that the number of people visiting her tearoom was down by about half.

“My guest house has had its worst year on record and the next few months are looking quiet too,” she said.

“If you haven’t filled up your Easter slots by Christmas then you should be worrying - and I haven’t.”

Sarah White from Easedale Lodge, Ambleside, said: “The weather has been putting people off. We’ve not had as many people here as this time last year.”

She thought business had fallen by about 30 per cent.

Sharyn Rush, owner of the Gables Guest House and the Sheila’s Cottage restaurant in Ambleside, said the weather, recession and the Olympics had all impacted on her business.

“We’re considerably down and August was our worst loss when it should have been our best month.”

As a result she has employed fewer people this year. Her suppliers have also suffered.

“The knock-on effect to suppliers is also bad,” she said. “It’s the little people who suffer.”

David Greenwell, owner of Workington-based Shortridge Laundry, which supplies around 600 Lake District B&Bs, said: “My gut feeling is that trade is down by about 10 per cent overall.”

Chief executive of Cumbria Tourism, Ian Stephens, admitted flooding across Cumbria last month might have put visitors off coming over Christmas and New Year.

“Our thoughts are with all those who are suffering but we are doing all we can to keep people coming,” he said.

“We are a resilient and robust county and I am sure that once again Cumbrians will be stepping up to the mark and showing the rest of the world that we can bounce back.”

Comments (20)

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11:40am Thu 3 Jan 13

zaney5 says...

Maybe some of these establishments need to lower their prices to attract more visitors then. After all, if it's the choice between somewhere with guaranteed sunshine versus a wet week in the Lakes for the same price, which would you choose?
Maybe some of these establishments need to lower their prices to attract more visitors then. After all, if it's the choice between somewhere with guaranteed sunshine versus a wet week in the Lakes for the same price, which would you choose? zaney5
  • Score: 0

2:28pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Ben Berry says...

zaney5 wrote:
Maybe some of these establishments need to lower their prices to attract more visitors then. After all, if it's the choice between somewhere with guaranteed sunshine versus a wet week in the Lakes for the same price, which would you choose?
Most have lowered their prices significantly.

"We're charging the same as we were ten years ago." Is what I got from one local tourism boss.
[quote][p][bold]zaney5[/bold] wrote: Maybe some of these establishments need to lower their prices to attract more visitors then. After all, if it's the choice between somewhere with guaranteed sunshine versus a wet week in the Lakes for the same price, which would you choose?[/p][/quote]Most have lowered their prices significantly. "We're charging the same as we were ten years ago." Is what I got from one local tourism boss. Ben Berry
  • Score: 0

4:41pm Thu 3 Jan 13

zaney5 says...

Ben Berry wrote:
zaney5 wrote:
Maybe some of these establishments need to lower their prices to attract more visitors then. After all, if it's the choice between somewhere with guaranteed sunshine versus a wet week in the Lakes for the same price, which would you choose?
Most have lowered their prices significantly.

"We're charging the same as we were ten years ago." Is what I got from one local tourism boss.
Regardless....

“People don’t want to book a holiday when it’s raining outside.

“The problem is that for the price of a holiday in an expensive area like this, you could get a week in Spain.”

Says it all.
[quote][p][bold]Ben Berry[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]zaney5[/bold] wrote: Maybe some of these establishments need to lower their prices to attract more visitors then. After all, if it's the choice between somewhere with guaranteed sunshine versus a wet week in the Lakes for the same price, which would you choose?[/p][/quote]Most have lowered their prices significantly. "We're charging the same as we were ten years ago." Is what I got from one local tourism boss.[/p][/quote]Regardless.... “People don’t want to book a holiday when it’s raining outside. “The problem is that for the price of a holiday in an expensive area like this, you could get a week in Spain.” Says it all. zaney5
  • Score: 0

6:49pm Thu 3 Jan 13

dancer58 says...

May be if all accomodation providers boycotted on line booking sites , they could then lower prices a little these companys take up to 20% for bookings online which surely is passed onto the customers, 6 years ago approx these sites did not exist & everybody did ok then
May be if all accomodation providers boycotted on line booking sites , they could then lower prices a little these companys take up to 20% for bookings online which surely is passed onto the customers, 6 years ago approx these sites did not exist & everybody did ok then dancer58
  • Score: 0

8:01pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Lakeuk says...

I know of one hotelier who been doing excellent trade out of season and for them it's come down to lowering their prices, offering a great service, attracting whose that wouldn't normally write off a type of accommodation as being out of their price range before even looking.

Got work colleagues living 60 miles south, normally come up to the lakes for a day trip once in a blue moon, at half term they at the last minute came up for a long weekend - it was the special offers that temped them, plus it was raining/snowing that weekend, didn't bother them, they just staying in the hotel longer using the facilities

Suppose I depends how much effort you're prepared to bring the customers
I know of one hotelier who been doing excellent trade out of season and for them it's come down to lowering their prices, offering a great service, attracting whose that wouldn't normally write off a type of accommodation as being out of their price range before even looking. Got work colleagues living 60 miles south, normally come up to the lakes for a day trip once in a blue moon, at half term they at the last minute came up for a long weekend - it was the special offers that temped them, plus it was raining/snowing that weekend, didn't bother them, they just staying in the hotel longer using the facilities Suppose I depends how much effort you're prepared to bring the customers Lakeuk
  • Score: 0

8:17pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Lakeuk says...

dancer58 wrote:
May be if all accomodation providers boycotted on line booking sites , they could then lower prices a little these companys take up to 20% for bookings online which surely is passed onto the customers, 6 years ago approx these sites did not exist & everybody did ok then
Looked at a local hotel on these booking sites and they're cheaper than the discount rate they advertise on their own websites booking page, some prices are 30% cheaper - they can't be that worried about the commission rates.

They're also not using social sites like facebook, twitter, Google Plus - missing out on opportunities to promote themselves

Gone are the days when you just wait for the customers to find you. There are some local accommodation businesses promoting themselves to attract bookings in 2014, they're looking well ahead to get in first.
[quote][p][bold]dancer58[/bold] wrote: May be if all accomodation providers boycotted on line booking sites , they could then lower prices a little these companys take up to 20% for bookings online which surely is passed onto the customers, 6 years ago approx these sites did not exist & everybody did ok then[/p][/quote]Looked at a local hotel on these booking sites and they're cheaper than the discount rate they advertise on their own websites booking page, some prices are 30% cheaper - they can't be that worried about the commission rates. They're also not using social sites like facebook, twitter, Google Plus - missing out on opportunities to promote themselves Gone are the days when you just wait for the customers to find you. There are some local accommodation businesses promoting themselves to attract bookings in 2014, they're looking well ahead to get in first. Lakeuk
  • Score: 0

11:22pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Stick in the Mud says...

"Now they face having to hike up prices in a bid to claw back earnings."
and
"The problem is that for the price of a holiday in an expensive area like this, you could get a week in Spain."

Says it all really.
They need to stop whinging, raise standards and lower costs, or get out of the business.
"Now they face having to hike up prices in a bid to claw back earnings." and "The problem is that for the price of a holiday in an expensive area like this, you could get a week in Spain." Says it all really. They need to stop whinging, raise standards and lower costs, or get out of the business. Stick in the Mud
  • Score: 0

11:34pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Stick in the Mud says...

Just checked Fairfield Garden website. They are still asking for £82 to £166/room for a dark, wet Thursday in January. Also tried to check price and availability for May and the website just displays question marks. Need to get their act together. I'll look elsewhere - another customer lost!!!
Also, don't accept kids under 10, but will take dogs.
Just checked Fairfield Garden website. They are still asking for £82 to £166/room for a dark, wet Thursday in January. Also tried to check price and availability for May and the website just displays question marks. Need to get their act together. I'll look elsewhere - another customer lost!!! Also, don't accept kids under 10, but will take dogs. Stick in the Mud
  • Score: 0

11:57pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Moleskins says...

1. The online booking systems have hiked up prices, make no mistake about that! Guest house owners have had to pass that cost on.
2. How can someone get out of the business, which is also their home? The banks aren't lending for someone else to buy it.
3. Cut prices you say, a couple running a small B&B would be working for no income, would you go into work and not get paid?
Clearly some of the comments above come from those who don't know the other side of the story.
And Cumbria Tourism need to realise that being a resilient Cumbrian doesn't stop you from going bust.
1. The online booking systems have hiked up prices, make no mistake about that! Guest house owners have had to pass that cost on. 2. How can someone get out of the business, which is also their home? The banks aren't lending for someone else to buy it. 3. Cut prices you say, a couple running a small B&B would be working for no income, would you go into work and not get paid? Clearly some of the comments above come from those who don't know the other side of the story. And Cumbria Tourism need to realise that being a resilient Cumbrian doesn't stop you from going bust. Moleskins
  • Score: 0

8:53am Fri 4 Jan 13

laker1 says...

It's not just the weather and the cost of accommodation that is putting people off - it's the ripp of charges of car parking, pub food and drink that is adding to the problem. How can you buy a pint of micro brewed beer in parts of the country for £2.50 ish and pay over a £1 more for the same in pubs here? How can you get a good bar meal for around the £10 mark elsewhere and pay £14 - £15 for the same here? How can you park all day at tourist car parks elsewhere for £2.00 per day or less (Usually free in touristy parts of Scotland) and and have to fork out £6 plus here. Accommodation and self catering charges are usually horrendous here, hi jacked by the letting companies who have to make their 25% come what may.

Stop whinging and blaming everything on the weather and start looking a little bit closer to home - the bubble has burst!!
It's not just the weather and the cost of accommodation that is putting people off - it's the ripp of charges of car parking, pub food and drink that is adding to the problem. How can you buy a pint of micro brewed beer in parts of the country for £2.50 ish and pay over a £1 more for the same in pubs here? How can you get a good bar meal for around the £10 mark elsewhere and pay £14 - £15 for the same here? How can you park all day at tourist car parks elsewhere for £2.00 per day or less (Usually free in touristy parts of Scotland) and and have to fork out £6 plus here. Accommodation and self catering charges are usually horrendous here, hi jacked by the letting companies who have to make their 25% come what may. Stop whinging and blaming everything on the weather and start looking a little bit closer to home - the bubble has burst!! laker1
  • Score: 0

9:04am Fri 4 Jan 13

fellsman says...

Moleskins wrote:
1. The online booking systems have hiked up prices, make no mistake about that! Guest house owners have had to pass that cost on.
2. How can someone get out of the business, which is also their home? The banks aren't lending for someone else to buy it.
3. Cut prices you say, a couple running a small B&B would be working for no income, would you go into work and not get paid?
Clearly some of the comments above come from those who don't know the other side of the story.
And Cumbria Tourism need to realise that being a resilient Cumbrian doesn't stop you from going bust.
Quite true - but you have to go into the B&B business with eyes wide open - many owners have mortgaged themselves up to the hilt in order to buy an overpriced property where the number of letting rooms can offer a living in good times (just!) - but when times go bad, they are in deep doo doo. If you look at the prices of B&B's which are on the market now, the sums cannot possibly add up, yet people continue to put their savings on the line, borrow and think they are entering utopia. When times get rough only the best can survive.
[quote][p][bold]Moleskins[/bold] wrote: 1. The online booking systems have hiked up prices, make no mistake about that! Guest house owners have had to pass that cost on. 2. How can someone get out of the business, which is also their home? The banks aren't lending for someone else to buy it. 3. Cut prices you say, a couple running a small B&B would be working for no income, would you go into work and not get paid? Clearly some of the comments above come from those who don't know the other side of the story. And Cumbria Tourism need to realise that being a resilient Cumbrian doesn't stop you from going bust.[/p][/quote]Quite true - but you have to go into the B&B business with eyes wide open - many owners have mortgaged themselves up to the hilt in order to buy an overpriced property where the number of letting rooms can offer a living in good times (just!) - but when times go bad, they are in deep doo doo. If you look at the prices of B&B's which are on the market now, the sums cannot possibly add up, yet people continue to put their savings on the line, borrow and think they are entering utopia. When times get rough only the best can survive. fellsman
  • Score: 0

5:30pm Fri 4 Jan 13

Milkbutnosugarplease says...

The tax rules on holiday lets have recently become stricter and, looking at projected income per property, the return isn't great. I wonder if an over-supply has grown up during the good times but now there will be casualties, as in the rest of our economy.
The tax rules on holiday lets have recently become stricter and, looking at projected income per property, the return isn't great. I wonder if an over-supply has grown up during the good times but now there will be casualties, as in the rest of our economy. Milkbutnosugarplease
  • Score: 0

10:28am Sat 5 Jan 13

Ladyxxmacbeth says...

laker1 wrote:
It's not just the weather and the cost of accommodation that is putting people off - it's the ripp of charges of car parking, pub food and drink that is adding to the problem. How can you buy a pint of micro brewed beer in parts of the country for £2.50 ish and pay over a £1 more for the same in pubs here? How can you get a good bar meal for around the £10 mark elsewhere and pay £14 - £15 for the same here? How can you park all day at tourist car parks elsewhere for £2.00 per day or less (Usually free in touristy parts of Scotland) and and have to fork out £6 plus here. Accommodation and self catering charges are usually horrendous here, hi jacked by the letting companies who have to make their 25% come what may.

Stop whinging and blaming everything on the weather and start looking a little bit closer to home - the bubble has burst!!
I do agree ... There is very little to do in the lakes if I is bad weather. The places are expensive there is very little entertainment.
When I went to Norfolk this year there were loads of free places to visit that we're indoors...or such a minimal fee or a donation it made it easy to find somewhere to go.
If you look on the same website to find free places in cumbria there is nowhere.
People want more that pretty hills on a holiday nod we are in danger of becoming like all the other old fashioned holiday places.
[quote][p][bold]laker1[/bold] wrote: It's not just the weather and the cost of accommodation that is putting people off - it's the ripp of charges of car parking, pub food and drink that is adding to the problem. How can you buy a pint of micro brewed beer in parts of the country for £2.50 ish and pay over a £1 more for the same in pubs here? How can you get a good bar meal for around the £10 mark elsewhere and pay £14 - £15 for the same here? How can you park all day at tourist car parks elsewhere for £2.00 per day or less (Usually free in touristy parts of Scotland) and and have to fork out £6 plus here. Accommodation and self catering charges are usually horrendous here, hi jacked by the letting companies who have to make their 25% come what may. Stop whinging and blaming everything on the weather and start looking a little bit closer to home - the bubble has burst!![/p][/quote]I do agree ... There is very little to do in the lakes if I is bad weather. The places are expensive there is very little entertainment. When I went to Norfolk this year there were loads of free places to visit that we're indoors...or such a minimal fee or a donation it made it easy to find somewhere to go. If you look on the same website to find free places in cumbria there is nowhere. People want more that pretty hills on a holiday nod we are in danger of becoming like all the other old fashioned holiday places. Ladyxxmacbeth
  • Score: 0

3:55pm Sat 5 Jan 13

churchy66 says...

I have just looked at the facebook page for the Fairfield and they have just under 60 likes! And they last updated their wall mid October 2012 - you need to be out there advertising and promoting, yes the British Isles has bad weather, we all know that, so slightly lower your prices, allow short breaks, even one nights, which a lot of guest houses turn their noses up, those one nights can turn into something else in the future. There are lot of establishments in the Lakes all wanting trade, so you need to stand out from the crowd. To say that a lot of bookings charts are normally filling up for Easter now is fool hardy, and you must be living in the dark ages, for the last 10 years the majority of folk book a break at the very last minute. I can not remember any member of my family booking a holiday 6 months in advance. The Lake District is an all year round destination - so promote those lovely months when the children are at school, together with mid week breaks.
I have just looked at the facebook page for the Fairfield and they have just under 60 likes! And they last updated their wall mid October 2012 - you need to be out there advertising and promoting, yes the British Isles has bad weather, we all know that, so slightly lower your prices, allow short breaks, even one nights, which a lot of guest houses turn their noses up, those one nights can turn into something else in the future. There are lot of establishments in the Lakes all wanting trade, so you need to stand out from the crowd. To say that a lot of bookings charts are normally filling up for Easter now is fool hardy, and you must be living in the dark ages, for the last 10 years the majority of folk book a break at the very last minute. I can not remember any member of my family booking a holiday 6 months in advance. The Lake District is an all year round destination - so promote those lovely months when the children are at school, together with mid week breaks. churchy66
  • Score: 0

3:01pm Mon 7 Jan 13

Ger-onimo says...

"If you haven’t filled up your Easter slots by Christmas then you should be worrying..."

Talk about scaremongering! Anyone in the industry knows that the trend for booking tends to be much more last minute nowadays. Yes, in an ideal world it would be great to be booked up for Easter by Christmas but we don't live or work in an ideal world. Many hoteliers are too quick to point the finger elsewhere when things aren't going well instead of looking at what they can do to help themselves.
"If you haven’t filled up your Easter slots by Christmas then you should be worrying..." Talk about scaremongering! Anyone in the industry knows that the trend for booking tends to be much more last minute nowadays. Yes, in an ideal world it would be great to be booked up for Easter by Christmas but we don't live or work in an ideal world. Many hoteliers are too quick to point the finger elsewhere when things aren't going well instead of looking at what they can do to help themselves. Ger-onimo
  • Score: 0

11:03am Tue 8 Jan 13

lancashirelife says...

Get with the times, it's all about promotion these days. Facebook, twitter, a website that is up to date.

Not everyone wants to go abroad and many people, especially couples like to have a weekend break with the option to snuggle up if the weather is bad.

Cumbria is known for it's weather, it's nothing new yet year after year there's always an excuse.

Get with it!
Get with the times, it's all about promotion these days. Facebook, twitter, a website that is up to date. Not everyone wants to go abroad and many people, especially couples like to have a weekend break with the option to snuggle up if the weather is bad. Cumbria is known for it's weather, it's nothing new yet year after year there's always an excuse. Get with it! lancashirelife
  • Score: 0

1:35pm Tue 8 Jan 13

Lakeuk says...

On radio cumbria this morning they interviewed Wheelbase on how sales were in Decemeber, they said the first two weeks of the month they were down so they decided to do an online promotion during the 3rd week which resulted in them having bumper sales including one day where they sold 5 times what they did the previous year.

It resulted in them having a year good Decemeber and year. I did wonder why other businesses are not as proactive in making sales happen for them
On radio cumbria this morning they interviewed Wheelbase on how sales were in Decemeber, they said the first two weeks of the month they were down so they decided to do an online promotion during the 3rd week which resulted in them having bumper sales including one day where they sold 5 times what they did the previous year. It resulted in them having a year good Decemeber and year. I did wonder why other businesses are not as proactive in making sales happen for them Lakeuk
  • Score: 0

7:07pm Wed 9 Jan 13

warfwell says...

Putting your prices down for accommodation is the worst thing you can do. The day will come when you have to put them back up again and clients / partners wont be pleased.

Keep the price level where it is, improve your service level and get out there and promote why your property is the one to stay at. Not having free basic pages on Facebook etc is shocking but easily fixed. Think where potential customers come from and what channels they use.

Also you can extend guest's stays with add-ons. The lake district the the ideal place for these and once people arrive give them 5-6 places to visit for a day. Put a black board out at dinner with tomorrow's must see activities!

Lead time has greatly reduced but there's business out there if you put the effort in.
Putting your prices down for accommodation is the worst thing you can do. The day will come when you have to put them back up again and clients / partners wont be pleased. Keep the price level where it is, improve your service level and get out there and promote why your property is the one to stay at. Not having free basic pages on Facebook etc is shocking but easily fixed. Think where potential customers come from and what channels they use. Also you can extend guest's stays with add-ons. The lake district the the ideal place for these and once people arrive give them 5-6 places to visit for a day. Put a black board out at dinner with tomorrow's must see activities! Lead time has greatly reduced but there's business out there if you put the effort in. warfwell
  • Score: 0

7:07pm Wed 9 Jan 13

warfwell says...

Putting your prices down for accommodation is the worst thing you can do. The day will come when you have to put them back up again and clients / partners wont be pleased.

Keep the price level where it is, improve your service level and get out there and promote why your property is the one to stay at. Not having free basic pages on Facebook etc is shocking but easily fixed. Think where potential customers come from and what channels they use.

Also you can extend guest's stays with add-ons. The lake district the the ideal place for these and once people arrive give them 5-6 places to visit for a day. Put a black board out at dinner with tomorrow's must see activities!

Lead time has greatly reduced but there's business out there if you put the effort in.
Putting your prices down for accommodation is the worst thing you can do. The day will come when you have to put them back up again and clients / partners wont be pleased. Keep the price level where it is, improve your service level and get out there and promote why your property is the one to stay at. Not having free basic pages on Facebook etc is shocking but easily fixed. Think where potential customers come from and what channels they use. Also you can extend guest's stays with add-ons. The lake district the the ideal place for these and once people arrive give them 5-6 places to visit for a day. Put a black board out at dinner with tomorrow's must see activities! Lead time has greatly reduced but there's business out there if you put the effort in. warfwell
  • Score: 0

12:44pm Thu 31 Jan 13

Waterside Lodge says...

We had a record year last year. People love the Lake District and I agree with others that you need to put more effort in and make your offering extra special. Do that and people will come back time and time again (and recommend and refer). Bad weather is an excuse and when I talk to my guests it is amazing how many now holiday at home and do short breaks. 1 in 2 are visiting the Lakes for the first time too! Remember the words staycation - and since when did people come to the lakes for a sun tan? Was at the Langdale 2 weeks ago and it was packed! Go to the Hawkshead Beer Hall and a pint is less than £3. Next door at Wilf's there is excellent food. Both offer value for money AND a great service. People will pay if they get this. Those that offer a bit more and something special will succeed. Those that don't will fall by the wayside. Same with any business really. Gone are the days when you can expect everything to fall into your lap.
We had a record year last year. People love the Lake District and I agree with others that you need to put more effort in and make your offering extra special. Do that and people will come back time and time again (and recommend and refer). Bad weather is an excuse and when I talk to my guests it is amazing how many now holiday at home and do short breaks. 1 in 2 are visiting the Lakes for the first time too! Remember the words staycation - and since when did people come to the lakes for a sun tan? Was at the Langdale 2 weeks ago and it was packed! Go to the Hawkshead Beer Hall and a pint is less than £3. Next door at Wilf's there is excellent food. Both offer value for money AND a great service. People will pay if they get this. Those that offer a bit more and something special will succeed. Those that don't will fall by the wayside. Same with any business really. Gone are the days when you can expect everything to fall into your lap. Waterside Lodge
  • Score: 0

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