How important is the tourist economy to Brighton & Hove?

Generating income locally

I have found local management consultancy work to be in short supply. My resolve, not to go back to a daily commute to London, is still holding out. So, I have had to do some agile strategy design® of my own, focussed initially on the local tourist economy.

We have newly built accommodation assets which are underutilised so one strand of our income strategy is to rent these out. And to set up fast, seeing what can be achieved by an agile exploration of the market rather than doing a study first and then investing money in a new business with no experience.

So, I have set up a small bed and breakfast enterprise based on the Airbnb platform. It’s going well with an average guest room occupancy rate of ~60% to date. The income generated from this part-time activity is equivalent to a mid-range salary in the City region.

And I am really enjoying it.

Despite the huge volume of washing and cleaning the business generates, I find the most fascinating thing is:

Why do people want to stay overnight in the City of Brighton and Hove?

Every guest tells a story

Everyone has their own story as to why they are staying away from their home to be here.

Some common themes are emerging. So, I have created my own categorisation for over-night stays:

  • Migrant worker           – (from elsewhere in the UK)
  • Social Event                 – (not a Brighton & Hove event)
  • Training                        – (at the universities, language schools or other providers)
  • Tourist                           – (here specifically to ‘see’ Brighton & Hove)
  • Visiting family here
  • Brighton & Hove Event
  • Business / work
  • Used to live in Brighton & Hove
  • Local
  • Migrant worker (from outside the UK)

I have deliberately avoided using the term ‘visitor’ because I have seen short-term accommodation demands from people who already live and work in the area.

It seems the demand profile is not all about ‘outsiders’ coming in for a while and leaving again. And its not all about the tourist economy.

With just over 6 months and 350 ‘person-nights’ of data – what is the observed distribution of reasons why people stay overnight in Brighton & Hove?

Person Nights analysis for BnB in Hove
Reason for stay: Person Nights
Migrant worker (UK) 91 26%
Social Event 62 18%
Training 56 16%
Tourist 49 14%
Visit family 28 8%
B&H Event 25 7%
Business / work 25 7%
Used to live in B&H 6 2%
Local 3 1%
Migrant worker (non-UK) 1 0%
346 100%

I am surprised to see that the straight Tourist numbers are so low (14%) in this sector of the accommodation market.

At a time when the City Council and Regional LEP are refreshing their economic strategies for the next 5+ years it will be interesting to see to what extent they have recognised the economic significance of the short-let accommodation sector that is servicing these needs.

Brighton & Hove is a city that is chronically short of housing and business accommodation and this has had a lot of attention in the consultations carried out during the Economic Strategy development process. But ‘overnighters’, that are not tourists, are a boost to the City & Regional economy too.

It’s not all about the tourist economy.

I also wonder what encouragement will be made available to ensure that local supply can meet the demand for overnight accommodation of all types?

After all, to achieve the growth that is called for in the City Council’s Economic Strategy – we need to attract more people to spend time and money in the City / Region.

Key point: People are coming to stay in the City of Brighton and Hove for a whole variety of reasons – tourism being only one of them. We need to attract more visitors of all types to stay here. It’s not just about the tourist economy.

Link to cover picture

Busy days


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