Before you take the plunge
First, consider what type of hotel you want to run. Is it going to be a small, cosy affair catering for couples seeking a romantic weekend break, or a larger, metropolitan establishment servicing the corporate market? Some hotels pitch for both business and private clients.
The types of clients you attract depends, in large part, on the hotel's location. For example, in 2011 the London tourism industry grew, with more than 14.6 million journeys made; however, other parts of the UK saw a decline. Your target clientele should inform the style and décor you go for; a rustic setting will weigh against attracting corporate clients and will more likely appeal to people seeking quiet seclusion away from the city hubbub.
A hotel that combines proximity to a reasonably sized town with the quiet of the country can appeal to a wider segment of the market.
Many hotels attract mainly corporate clients from Monday to Friday, before the clientele switches to wedding guests and city dwellers looking for an escape at weekends.
Hotels in Brighton see demand from all quarters. The conference season, which runs from March to November, attracts a steady stream of visitors. Like Blackpool, Brighton is often host to political party conferences.
Meanwhile, being a seaside resort draws a lot of tourists from abroad, particularly during the summer months. Brighton's proximity to London also makes it a popular destination for people seeking to escape the capital for a weekend.
"There is a good all-year round business in Brighton as a result of its proximity to London and the number of conferences that are held here," explains Hipwell. "But our bread and butter are the couples who come at the weekend for a romantic break."
Although achieving a ‘star’ status from VisitEngland or the AA, or specialist websites such as tripadvisor.co.uk, is not compulsory, accreditation helps provide your prospective customers with a yardstick of what to expect. Accommodation will be rated on factors such as cleanliness, range and quality of facilities, service, quality of fixtures and fittings, and ambience.
The standards of VisitEngland and the AA were merged in 1999, but each still has its own guides and websites by which it promotes accredited hotels, so you can choose to join one, both – or none. "Each organisation's costs are very competitive with each other," says Stanbridge. "The cost depends on the size of the accommodation, but it is in the hundreds of pounds, rather than the thousands for the average provider."