A north Norfolk hotel says a keyless entry system funded through a visitor economy grant scheme will help it attract guests looking for more flexible check-in and check-out times.
New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership awarded the Virginia Court Hotel in Cromer £2,022 from the Visitor Economy Grant Scheme for the installation of the system, which will be more convenient and safer for guests during Covid-19.
The hotel suffered heavy losses after Covid-19 forced it to close for more than three months and three members of staff were made redundant. This resulted in reduced check-in times and access to hotel rooms, and consequently fewer bookings.
Now its owners hope that when the hotel reopens in March 2021, it will help attract guests outside of the peak seasons and give the business more economic resilience.
Shaun Trumble, who co-owns the hotel with Martin Torrens, said: “Until now, people have had to check in and out during certain times. This keyless door lock system means we can give them the code and they can arrive whenever they want.
“If they are a salesperson or other worker who might be leaving London at seven in the evening and getting here late, it gives them that flexibility to arrive with their code and go to their room. Previously, we would have had to turn away that business.
“A lot of our custom is seasonal, but this allows us to get that incremental business in the shoulder months when it’s quiet and try and tap into a new market.”
The 23-bed seaside hotel in Cliff Avenue, which started life as a Gentleman’s Club in 1901, will be closed over the winter and reopen in March, complete with its new check-in arrangements.
Shaun said the Visitor Economy Grant was the first funding he had applied for and was full of praise for the speed at which it was dealt with by New Anglia Growth Hub, which administers the scheme.
“We thought it would involve tonnes of paperwork, but it was much easier than we anticipated, and the decision-making was really quick,” he said.
The Visitor & Wider Economy Grant Schemes offer between £1,000 and £3,000 to businesses in the visitor economy sector/supply chain or wider economy to help them respond to Covid-19 and implement their planned projects. These grants are offered at 100% of intervention rate and no match funding is required, but applicants must be able to purchase items upfront and claim back costs.
Funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Visitor Economy Grant scheme has so far awarded £123,787 to 46 projects, while the Wider Economy Grant Scheme has awarded £133,505 to 51 projects.
New Anglia Growth Hub Adviser Glen Moore said: “The hospitality sector has been hit really badly during the Covid-19 crisis and we know important the visitor economy is to Norfolk and Suffolk. We are delighted we can offset at least a small part of the damage with these grants, which are proving to be very popular.”
If you would like to apply for the grant please download and complete the application form here and return to; New Anglia Growth Hub, Felaw Maltings, South Kiln, 42 Felaw Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP2 8SQ.