Census 2016: Hotels face a big challenge on the night

Managers must get an estimated 50,000 guests to fill in the compulsory form

Martin Brett of the Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney said co-ordinating the census in the hotel will be a challenge. Photograph: Don MacMonagle

Martin Brett of the Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney said co-ordinating the census in the hotel will be a challenge. Photograph: Don MacMonagle


Hotel managers all over the country will face a particular challenge on census night on Sunday, April 24th: to chase down an estimated 50,000 guests to get them to fill in the compulsory census form.

Some 21,440 visitors from outside Ireland were enumerated on census night five years ago – 16,419 in hotels and a further 5,021 in guest houses.

The Irish Hotels Federation estimates there will be more than 50,000 people staying in 800 hotels and 200 guest houses this year.

Martin Brett, deputy general manager of the Gleneagle Hotel and Apartments in Killarney, Co Kerry, was responsible for co-ordinating the census there in 2011 and it falls to him again this year.

“In a hotel of our size on the 24th, we’re going to have in excess of 300 people staying with us on that night. It’s not a full house, thank God. If it was a full house it would be nearly 600,” he says.

“The census enumerator will come around and will issue us with individual forms.

“They’re similar to the household form but there’s one per person rather than one per bedroom.

“We don’t give them out in advance, we only give them out on the day of the census because they’re only for the people who are staying overnight.”

Staff are often asked for help filling in the forms, particularly by older guests who may be alone.

“We get a lot of people that are not Irish and they have no idea what’s going on at all.

“We had a few issues last time. We had some Italians in and were trying to explain to them what the census was. We eventually got some basic information out of them anyway.”

Common response

A particularly common response from Irish guests, he says is: “Ah, I filled it out at home.”

“You’ve to try and explain that they’ve to fill it out where they are on the night.”

The hardest part, he says, is getting the forms back.

“I remember the last time, one of my last rooms I couldn’t track them down left, right or centre.

“I eventually phoned them on the mobile they used for booking and they were down at Torc waterfall so I had to drive down and pick it up from them.”

Deirdre Cullen of the CSO says it is the experience of the statisticians and enumerators that people co-operate when asked.

“They understand the statutory nature of it. The hotel manager has an important role to play in this. So it’s their duty and responsibility to get a census form to every guest.”

She says the form has been translated into 21 foreign languages and also uses promotional material in hotels to alert guests to the census.

By far the greatest logistical challenge for the CSO is getting the forms to private households, and in particular this time to apartment buildings.

Last week the CSO called on apartment management companies to provide census enumerators with access to apartment blocks after they reported they were experiencing difficulties accessing the buildings.