The hospitality industry needs to “self-improve, showcase the greatness and engage with the workforce to balance revenue and resource levels” were strong messages from The Future of Hospitality seminar at the Independent Hotel Show on Tuesday.
Sally Beck, General Manager at The Royal Lancaster Hotel and pioneer of The Hoteliers’ Charter joined the panel with Julia Sibley from The Savoy Trust, Chris Gamm from Springboard and Sam Coulstock and Robert Richardson from the Institute of Hospitality to discuss how as hoteliers we all need to work together to raise the profile of the hospitality industry and promote the sector as a desirable, long term career path.
“Sort your own house out.” Sally enthused. “If you want to keep your workforce you need to balance kindness with honest, transparent conversations. Reduce hours if needed – if you stretch the workforce they will leave.”
The hospitality industry – along with a host of other industries post Brexit and the pandemic – has been hard hit by the recruitment crisis that is sweeping the nation. Stories of hotels and restaurants closing or reducing opening hours are rife, and the workforce is depleting even further as the ones left to hold the fort are too stretched and overworked.
“We are hearing stories of apprentices in their third year leaving the industry due to the enormous strain they have been under since re-opening,” said Chris Gamm. “At this point, not enough young people are coming into the industry.”
The panel went on to discuss how hospitality needs to self-improve and showcase that this is an exciting, thriving industry with a lot of positives. “We need to break down the barriers.” Sally explained. “The media celebrate bullying by chefs and portray our industry as long hours and poor pay. Our industry is amazing and vibrant, and every day is different.”
And it is not all about rewarding through pay. Competitive salaries are key, as is being transparent about service charges. “But treat people as humans, not as a number on a spreadsheet.” Sally says. “There is so much more – mentoring, training, kindness and opportunities to grow. It is about the whole work environment.”
This was the reason for the launch of The Hoteliers Charter in early 2021, providing a reckoning to hoteliers to break down this image. The 10 key principles – from driving environmentally sustainable businesses to advocating diversity, inclusion and equality – are a promise in kind that comes from the top. Only General Managers can sign up to the charter, to ensure full buy in.
Springboard is also working hard to change the recruitment situation and has recently launched one of their biggest campaigns ever: Springboard into 2022. The campaign is heavily funded by The Savoy Educational Trust, whose £1million grant is being put to good use.
“Our goal is to have 10,000 young people trained and ready to work in hospitality by 2022.” says Chris. The first milestone of 1000 people has already been reached, with Springboard providing hands on training to introduce unemployed people and those faced with barriers to get the skills needed for a career in hospitality.
In addition, Hospitality Apprentice Week takes place between 18-22 October 2021, billed as an opportunity to celebrate apprenticeships in the sector and showcase the unique and diverse career pathways available by challenging misconceptions linked to careers in hospitality.
Chris asked the audience for their support. “We need everyone’s help to educate and engage. Go to your local secondary schools, engage with the students, show them what our great industry can do for them.”
The message is clear. It’s time we changed the perception. And we need everyone to get involved to make this happen.