“Room occupancy in Brussels’ hotels is currently shared equally between holidaymakers and business users,” reveals Rodolphe Van Weyerbergh of the Brussels Hotels Association (BHA), although the average spend per night is higher for the latter. For eateries, on the other hand, July has proved to be a disappointing month. “It seems to be all systems go for hotel occupancy in Brussels this month,” said Rodolphe Van Weyerbergh. “Turnover seems to be following the same pattern as last year, and may even exceed July 2014 levels,” he adds.
Summer used to be a quiet time for hotels in Brussels but things have changed over the last couple of years. BHA believes the changes to be the result of various events hosted by the city in the summer months and of government initiatives, but is also thanks to Europeans’ increasing fondness for city-breaks. The Tommorowland festival, for example, resulted in 20,000 hotel nights being booked.
The bread-and-butter, however, of Brussels’ hotel turnover is the many business trips, September and October being the busiest months. “If we take the year as a whole, business visitors and holidaymakers tend to make a similar number of bookings but the nightly cost for business clients tends to be higher. It therefore follows that turnover from business customers is also higher,’ points out Rodolphe Van Weyerbergh.
The same can’t be said, unfortunately for Brussels’ eateries; the sector recorded a 20% drop in turnover in July 2015 in comparison to the same month, 2014, according to a poll conducted by the Belgian Restaurants Association.
The second quarter of 2015 showed promise, but things then calmed down dramatically in July,” explained Miguel Van Keirsbilck, the association’s secretary-general. “Brussels city centre was busy with holidaymakers but they were generally of the back-packing or tour operator variety, and this category of holidaymaker tends to snack rather than dine out.”
The association did not notice any particular link between these results and the pedestrianisation of certain areas. Restaurant owners are banking on August being, as is usually the case, much busier than July.