When the Independent Hotel Show presented by James Hallam returned to Olympia London on 4-5 October to reunite the independent hospitality sector, the industry looked ahead to the challenges and opportunities of a post-lockdown world:
No one who works in hospitality is unaware of the challenge the sector faces when it comes to recruitment and retention, and while this challenge existed pre-Covid, a combination of the lockdown disruption and Brexit has prompted widespread labour shortages across the UK. Research by UKHospitality has hinted at a 9% shortfall, equivalent to 188,000 workers across a wide range of job roles.
Organisations such as The Hoteliers' Charter, launched in early 2021, aim to boost the reputation of the hospitality industry as a viable long-term career and participating hotels will be asked to commit to points including providing a positive and nourishing work environment, training and development, a good work/life balance and fair wages.
In many ways, the restrictions of the past 18 months have prompted a significant leap in the adoption and widespread use of technology in hospitality. From QR codes and apps to contactless card and smartphone payments, consumers have grown accustomed to this new tech-centric customer experience.
The challenge for hoteliers is to balance this new familiarity with technology, and the benefits that might bring, with an authentic and personal customer experience.
Research by GuestRevu, which surveyed 11,000 guests, found that while guests are increasingly happy with virtual check-ins and room keys, there is still a desire for an in-person interaction at hotel receptions.
It has been the term on everyone's lips for a number of years, but sustainability is rapidly rising up the list of customer priorities and affects everything from food & drink to interior design to cleaning practices to how hotels collaborate with their local community.
A 2020 study by consulting firm Kearney shows that the pandemic has made consumers even more concerned about the environment when making choices:
Nearly half said they are more concerned about the environment than before the pandemic.
11% have changed their purchases based on environmental claims within the past year.
In 2019, 71% took the environment into consideration when making choices at least occasionally. On 6 March of 2020, 78% felt that way. On 10 April, 83% of consumers said they considered the environment.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, is coming to Glasgow in November 2021, and the UK has made a commitment to reach carbon net zero by 2050. It's important for hospitality businesses to be aware of this deadline and have a long-term strategy for reducing emissions and reaching carbon neutrality.