Nearly two-thirds of hotel openings in the provinces last year were in the budget sector, according to estate agency group Knight Frank. In London, approximately half of new hotels were deemed to be budget properties. This, it suggests, “is evidence of a structural change taking place and an underlying shift to greater branding and the hotel market becoming less fragmented” – code for emphasising that independent hoteliers are the ones under increasing pressure. The number of independent hotel rooms is estimated to have declined by some 40,000 during the past decade, according to veteran hotel industry consultant Melvin Gold. And the position is getting worse for the non-chains. “Branded budget hotels are the fastest growing tier of the market by some margin,” says Gold, who adds that ‘branded budgets’ now account for about a fifth of the total UK serviced accommodation market. Get the full story at Buying Business Travel