Changes in the Edinburgh Hospitality Market

Posted November 21 2023 By Mary Munoz

Thanks to the strength of Edinburgh’s commercial, conference, Government and leisure tourism sectors, the market has successfully absorbed new supply over the last decade, making Edinburgh the best-performing hotel market in the UK outside of London.

Unsurprisingly, Edinburgh hotels lost a huge proportion of business in 2020 and early 2021. A survey conducted by Fraser of Allander in 2023 found that food and accommodation services lost the highest proportion of revenue compared to other industries during the pandemic.  

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as the market started to recover strongly in mid-2021 and has continued to stay strong ever since. Recovery has primarily been due to domestic and leisure, as well as the return of major events and conferences and international travel.

Even though the long-term outlook for the Edinburgh hospitality sector is positive, a survey suggested hotels and restaurants have continually struggled to fill job vacancies, with data from Fraser of Allander showing around 30-35% of hospitality workers change employers annually – roughly twice the rate of other industries. The data shows just because the levels have returned doesn’t mean there aren’t new struggles. For example, staffing and recruitment have seen major issues since the pandemic, with many industry professionals leaving the industry to pursue a more stable career (including myself). Brexit is making a significant impact on staff levels.

However, recently, Edinburgh has seen a major investment injection with new hotels, restaurants and bars popping up all over the city. Notable is the Ruby Hotel, which will be opening its doors in 2026. It will be based in the heart of Princes Street and comprises a 347-bedroom hotel, with plans to include a bar, rooftop terrace, restaurant area, and retail units.

One that will be ready for guests sooner is the W Edinburgh Hotel, which promises to provide a luxury experience for its guests. However, it has caused quite a stir within the community with its somewhat controversial design located atop the St James Quarter Shopping Centre. In addition, there’s a newly opened Virgin Hotel and the Gleneagles Townhouse, proving that the hotel market is moving from strength to strength in the capital.

As we all know, the hospitality industry is coming out of a few tough years, with Brexit, the global pandemic having led to staff shortages and a loss of critical skills across the industry, and now with the cost of living crisis. However, with the right recruitment and retention strategy in place, employers in hospitality can reap the benefits of putting their people first, with improved productivity and overall job satisfaction leading to increased retention and the attraction of the best talent.

I’ve worked within the Edinburgh hospitality industry since 2019, beginning as a bar back moving up to interim manager, living and breathing the chaos of the hospitality industry during the pandemic. I moved into hospitality recruitment in 2021. So, this gives me a unique insight into the pressures and demands of working in the hospitality industry. It also means that when my clients are looking for a specific attribute or skill set, I understand the nuances of the roles they are trying to hire.

The jobs market continues to be a challenge for hospitality businesses. If you’d like to speak to me about your recruitment strategy – both long and short-term – I’d be delighted to help. Drop me an email, click here and get in touch.

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