The hospitality and tourism sector in Scotland is diverse and has a broad reach across the Scottish economy. That’s why, in this series of articles ‘checking in’ we’ve decided to talk to some of our clients and contacts in the sector about how they are progressing out of lockdown. Our first Q&A below discusses new developments now driving the sector’s recovery and its response to new guest requirements.
In this Q&A, Euan Tripp, Partner, in our Corporate & Commercial law team asks Andrew Landsburgh, founder of Code Pod Hostels, some key questions on the re-opening of his business following lockdown and why they decided to introduce ‘bespoke pod beds’, alongside the concept behind the Code brand, recovery from lockdown, investor and guest sentiment, as well as how the response to Covid may accelerate responsible tourism for a sustainable future.
Euan Tripp (ET): For those that don’t know, could you explain the concept behind Code Pod Hostels – and what underpins the brand’s success?
Andrew Landsburgh (AL): As a company and a team, we are passionate about getting things right – we focus on a high quality offering, with terrific attention to detail to provide an extremely good experience for the guest. One of our first signature features was to create bespoke pod beds to give greater privacy for guests when they come to stay - that concept is borne out of popularity in Asia, but it’s definitely becoming more prevalent in Europe, and we think it will in the US soon as well.
ET: So how were you able to deal with the challenges of lockdown and, ultimately, planning for re-opening?
AL: This has been unlike anything we have seen before, everyone in the hospitality sector was hit extremely quickly – and, being honest, I wasn’t anticipating such a long lockdown at the start. However, there has been great understanding from everyone involved, including employees, guests and our business partners and suppliers.
We've managed to move very quickly to gear up for re-opening and were delighted to get the doors open again.
ET: You’ve successfully worked with significant investors in the market recently. Do you feel investors still have the appetite for the hotel and hostel sector?
AL: This is not forever, and we will get past this. The message that we are consistently hearing from guests and customers is that they are very keen to get back travelling – particularly the younger clientele.
Investors across the UK and Europe seem to take the same view and are willing to look long-term at the sector in terms of a recovery time-scale. Investors have the funds, still believe in the hotel and hostel markets and do want to get their funds deployed, not have them eroded by inflation.
ET: Scotland’s national tourism strategy - The Scottish Outlook 2030 - represented an ambitious and bold vision for Scottish tourism but, of course, came out shortly before the effects of Covid 19 were felt here. While supporting the ‘here and now’, its pleasing to hear that the likes of Visit Scotland and the Scottish Tourism Alliance are still determined to fulfil the longer term visions of this strategy too. One of the key themes is ‘Responsible Tourism for a Sustainable Future’ – how do you see that being applied to Scotland’s tourism and your own business?
AL: I think this will really accelerate as part of the Covid response. Inevitably, everyone has had time to reflect on how we run our businesses and looking at them in much greater depth and detail. To take just a couple of simple examples – one is supply chain – it’s been pretty clear from all of this that a local supply chain is incredibly important, and ultimately that can help create a far more circular economy, which has to be a good thing. Another is that businesses with access to capital have been re-investing in their assets, and as part of that improving sustainability improving energy efficiency – and I think it is very prevalent from what I see in the industry that people want to focus and build on this. I don’t think Covid will alter the responsible and sustainability strategy – I think it will enhance it.
ET: How do you think individuals are going to react – do you see a fundamental shift in people’s travel and holidaying behaviour as likely?
AL: I think people still want to travel internationally, be global citizens and that Scotland will see that come back. Staycations will boom for a while but I do not see that as being a long-term fixture. At Code, we do have a strong UK and Ireland customer base, but ordinarily we have a huge mix of international guests and I expect that to return.
Scotland has such fantastic offering, lots of great outdoor activities, history and so much more. Remote parts of Scotland may be welcoming more visitors than they ordinarily would, and I firmly believe that city vacations will come back strongly too.
We're here to help
The road ahead looks positive for the hospitality and tourism sector as they move out of lockdown. With businesses and premises beginning to reopen and a desire to travel by guests and customers it seems good progress is being made for the future of the sector.
We’re here to help during these challenging times, and have a range of insights and information available on our Business Hub. To find out more about the help and insight offered by our Business Hub, subscribe here. You can also contact our Business Resilience Group lead, Neil Amner, or your usual contact at the firm.