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hall of cards.jpgThe eight hundred or so hospitality professionals who attended last month’s British Hospitality Association annual lunch at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel were left in no doubt that a faltering economy and rising energy and food prices mean the industry is in for a rocky ride this year and next.

CBI Director General, Richard Lambert warned guests that there would be tough times ahead for hospitality. And BHA supremo, Bob Cotton said that food inflation was driving up prices and squeezing margins “more than ever before”.

And yet, when Lambert conducted a straw poll of the audience to find out how many of them had noticed a discernible decline in trade, there can have been no more than five hands up in the whole room.

“They’re feeling it but they’re all too scared to admit it”, said one of those hands after the event, adding that he had seen a noticeable trend in diners downgrading to house wine rather than splashing out on something pricier.

Last week, I blogged about the Isle of Eriska hotel’s experience of a guest cancelling a trip up to Scotland on the basis that the fuel bill would be too costly. Is trade flourishing in your hotel or restaurant? Or do you have any similar stories of lessening spend – and if so, are you prepared to admit to them?