Blackpool is famous for being cheap as chips. Affordable food and hotels that have seen it transform into a vacation destination people visit again and again.
But there are growing fears among hoteliers that discounted overnight rooms could actually damage Blackpool’s reputation. A quick look at booking sites will find you a room for just £15-£20 a night; a price that some say is not high enough to run a B&B or hotel to the standards they believe should be run.
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Ian Kennedy of The Avenue Guesthouse said cheap accommodation is not a new practice in Blackpool, but by charging low and failing to provide the standard people want these businesses are damaging reputations of the seaside town.
He says: “It’s commonplace in Blackpool. People are selling hotel rooms at these prices. Just before Covid there was a business that was doing rooms for £8 a night, and that’s a pretty good example because they went bankrupt. Apparently a lot of guests left without a room. It just goes to show that you are selling at ridiculously low rates which are actually detrimental to the hotels themselves.
“I think people selling at these ridiculously low prices are kind of a flash in the pan. They come in and try to build a business and they fail because the quality is so bad. And then they just turned around. It there’s such a quick turnaround on these cheap places I think they’re detrimental to Blackpool because it gives rise to people saying it’s shoddy and all that when in fact there’s Fabulously good B&Bs and hotels in Blackpool.”
Ian says people often look for cheap accommodation to save money. But he said people who do are often bitten by poor quality rooms. He says: ‘I find people opting for the cheapest rooms are sort of stag and hen parties, people using the commentary ‘it’s just a bed for the night’ or people who are really trying to save so much money that it backfires on them because you see people on the street crying in tears because of the state of this accommodation.”
In recent years, LancsLive has spoken to dozens of disgruntled guests staying in Blackpool to be disappointed with their accommodation. Even those who choose to stay in some of the larger hotels have been disappointed.
Some hotel owners say they understand why companies are able to charge such low rates. Fossil Tree Hotel owner Chris Rinder told LancsLive he understands that different people have different business models.
He says: “I think if somebody can make a business out of it and if they can make a profit out of it, that’s great. Certainly the cost base that we have to clean and maintain means we’ll never be able to run our businesses at the rates they do, but they may have a different business model, so it’s difficult.
“My mantra is you get what you pay for. So if someone’s expectations are low, they pay for something cheap and that’s fine. But if the standards are high and you take something cheap, you’re probably going to be disappointed.”
Denise Ward, of Barton House Bed and Breakfast, had sympathy for those who charge low, adding that they had to operate on an incredibly tight budget.
She says: “I feel a little sorry for people who try to make it cheaper because I have no idea how they can do it. They just have to operate on a shoestring budget. We also have friends who have I have hotels that have staff doing business sometimes because they have to keep that staff on board we don’t have staff it’s just us so we’re the only ones going without if anything thing is happening.
“But if people are doing it and they’re subsidizing it themselves, which I think they have to be, they can’t go on for that long. They can’t go on. And I’ve decided we don’t We weren’t going that route. We keep our prices the same all year round, so we don’t inflate them like fireworks or summer or anything like that.
“So we’re pretty cheap in the summer, but we’re expensive in the winter. But we decided that was it and we have quite a few regulars and they respect that. We’re trying to keep our room rates We are not too high We think they are cheap but obviously Blackpool are used to very cheap rooms And we can’t go as cheap as some places but in their defense they have They may have made a cheap room, but you don’t get much in it, you can’t really have everything, can you.
Steve Fazakerley of The Arthington said he understood why people charge cheap fares. But, he says, they need to understand that this is not a sustainable business model. He says: “People charge what they charge. We know what you need to charge to be able to reinvest in your property, as well as to provide the right quality of food, cleanliness, all that sort of stuff.
“These standards require money and if your customers pay it, that’s fantastic. But they will be the first to complain if it’s not up to what they want. But people will charge what they want. “They charge. So, you know, the end of the day where you have to make a living without overcharging, but you know, charge appropriately for what you provide.”
Steve said The Arthington was already part of the StayBlackpool accommodation scheme. But even such accreditation systems cannot prevent people from charging too low fares.
He says, “We strongly believe that there should be some form of accreditation. But even if there is accreditation people will still charge what they charge and if they sleep well if I can charge £40 a night for my room I’m gonna fill all my rooms so I go when even make enough money.
“But you’re still not filling all your rooms and all you get is £40 a night which you then have to deduct from the cost of food, bed in gas, electricity which all increased as well as a living wage yourself, or are you going to say well I’m pretty happy to earn this because I can still claim that I can still pay tax credits for the work if I don’t win no money.
“We fully understand people who want to charge low, fully understand what they do, how they think. But at the end of the day, you can only do it for so long because you have nothing to reinvest in your property and these properties need money to take care of it.
“We prefer to work with this list properly. Charge accordingly. Earn a living, never be rich, but earn a living and not be a burden on the taxpayer at the same time.”
It is widely recognized by all hotel and B&B owners that LancsLive caters to that the vast majority of accommodation providers strive to provide the best quality rooms at a reasonable price and that ‘they genuinely care about their customers, their business and their fellow hoteliers.
StayBlackpool manager Ian White told LancsLive he strongly believes some form of national accreditation is needed and that some businesses should simply not be allowed to trade.
He says: “It is agreed that there is a significant problem with accommodation that is below cheap. It costs well over £15 to clean and wash bedding and fully clean a bedroom. Is it a Problem unique to Blackpool? Absolutely not. The company’s practices are common worldwide. Due to their large virtual monopoly, accommodation owners have little choice but to use the site(s). (s).”
He adds: “The comment that ‘you get what you pay for’ is very offensive as some of these places should never be allowed to trade. It’s refreshing to hear that the DCMS (Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) are conducting a review to decide what levels of intervention and/or regulation are needed at a national level for the short-term visitor accommodation sector and recently closed a call for evidence which ran from 29 June to September 21.
“From a basic register to a more formal but cost effective trading license, something Blackpool already has with its Blackpool Approved Scheme. However, although there is no legal requirement, the Blackpool Approved Scheme has limited adoption.To ensure a safe stay in Blackpool, check sites such as VisitBlackpool (the local tourist board) or StayBlackpool (the local association of hotels and guesthouses). United, your first stop should be the local tourist office.