B&B licensing system to be formally proposed

The Bed & Breakfast Association is putting forward a proposal made by a luxury bed & breakfast operation in the city.

Blackpool luxury B&BH Four Rooms owners Michael Elt and Paul Sinnott wrote to Luxury Bed & Breakfast magazine proposing a registration or licensing scheme be introduced to prevent sub-standard B&B operators from damaging the reputation of other operators in the area (see February print edition).

Bed & Breakfast Association chairman David Weston said he would take up the proposal and put it to the appropriate authorities in Blackpool when he meets them early this year.

He told Luxury Bed & Breakfast magazine: “It is tough offering a quality product in a market where you are undercut by those who haven’t invested, and sell on price only. Blackpool suffers from ‘over-supply’ of tourist bed-spaces, dragging prices down and (at worst) creating a downward spiral towards the lowest quality. It is a very difficult problem to address, and any possible solutions will take time. As it happens, we have been invited to tourism strategy discussions in Blackpool in early 2018 to help the Blackpool authorities address this very issue. They want to raise the overall quality of accommodation as they construct a new conference centre in the city to help them bring high quality events to Blackpool.

“We have always tended to be against registration schemes on principle in the past, but I would say that cities with particular issues such as Blackpool should now consider them carefully.

“Such a scheme would have to have checks and balances, and be fair – after all, even in the food hygiene scheme, a business is not immediately shut down if it is not good or excellent. The threshold for shutting a business down in that case is a continuing danger to the public, which the business owner cannot or will not address.

“So yes, a registration scheme to ensure minimum standards, safety compliance etc. should be considered, but I would caution that it would not on its own solve the problem, as businesses cannot simply be shut down because their (legal) product is not high quality.

“The city should also consider what it can do to reduce the over-capacity of low-quality accommodation, especially in areas less ideal for tourism, by encouraging the change of use of properties from B&B/hotel use to residential accommodation or other uses. There may be other ways of tackling the problem too.

“I am glad to hear that Four Rooms gets such good online reviews – and that is a way they can lift themselves above the low-quality competition. And I wish them the success they deserve in a very challenging marketplace. We will take up their proposal and put it to Blackpool.