5 trends currently impacting the hospitality industry
Let’s face it, it’s hard to talk about current hospitality trends without mentioning the ongoing staffing crisis which is still seriously affecting the industry. And it’s not going away any time soon.
However, hospitality firms are recognising the need to adapt in order to help address the issue. We’re seeing more and more firms take a number of approaches in order to get through this tough period, such as reduced opening hours, salary uplifts for staff (Prezzo announced last week a 4% uplift for all 2500 staff) and reduced menus, to name a few.
But look a bit deeper and there are some other key trends happening right now which are worth taking note of and which are driving change in the sector:
1. Multi-skilling of staff
More and more firms are looking to cover staff shortages by up skilling their existing staff to work across different areas, meaning staff can move between departments to mirror the changing demands of the business.
Within pure hospitality environments, this upskilling tends to be more front of house to back, and not the other way round. For example, waiting staff being trained to help out in the kitchen with prep or perhaps washing dishes, rather than chefs being trained to wait on customers. We’re also seeing staff being trained to help with stock taking and merchandise where they might not have traditionally done so. Within garden centres, visitor attractions and other environments with a blend of retail and hospitality, both retail and front of house staff are being trained to help each other out, for example with stocking shelves, operating tills, customer service, clearing tables and kitchen prep.
While staff shortages remain, firms are realising they need to work with the staff they currently have and are taking an “all hands on deck” approach to see them through.
2. Communities are key
Hospitality is getting more involved in and closer to their local communities in order to help entice customers to return and get business back on track. This is particularly important in smaller villages and suburbs, where perhaps the local café is a big part of the community.
Businesses are recognising the need to target those people who are now working from home a lot more and reminding them they can come and grab a coffee, or even spend some time working from their venue. As restrictions have eased, it’s a great opportunity for businesses to take advantage of those who are ‘remote working’ but perhaps do not want to always be at home.
Many are also pushing out messaging to older members of the community too, reassuring them that it’s safe to visit them and that hygiene standards to prevent COVID are high.
Garden centres in particular are doing more in this space and getting creative with new business avenues. We’re aware of one business that has built rapport with the local church and is now servicing wakes, offering their private function room which people can hire out. It’s proving to be a popular option with customers, with plenty of free parking on offer and it being easy to get to. A great way to diversify their business.
3. Technology & innovation
There are so many digital solutions we’re seeing being adopted by firms right now. But it’s fair to say that innovation in the sector has come on more in the last 12 months than it has in the last 5-10 years. Thanks to the pandemic, hospitality venues (like many other sectors) have had to adapt to new ways of working, some for improved efficiencies and others in order to simply survive as a business.
Many more venues have now done away with pens and paper – more and more waiting staff are using handheld devices to process orders – meaning tickets pop up in the kitchen immediately which saves times for the kitchen staff and saves waiting staff having to make unnecessary trips to the kitchen. More venues are now investing in this type of technology for their staff, alongside ordering apps that are now here to stay.
With many businesses seeing online sales and deliveries take off during COVID, many have found this side of their business has remained even as the sector has re-opened. To cope with these incremental sales, and to allow their main kitchens to return to serving in-house customers, more and more are setting up dark kitchens (production units) off site, purely to cope with their online orders and delivery drivers.
Apps also now exist which can coordinate food ordering across different venues, so you can order from multiple outlets at once, plus we’re also seeing a big trend in people buying e-gift vouchers for family and friends, rather than physical gift cards bought in-venue.
With the climate crisis, sustainability is a big conversation everywhere right now, and that’s no different for the hospitality sector, particularly around packaging. Many firms are looking to ensure takeaway food is presented in cardboard boxes with wooden cutlery, not plastic.
But one of the big challenges for the sector is this (particularly with the growth in online ordering we’ve seen) - can you really be sustainable and eco-friendly if delivery drivers are doing repeat pick-ups / drop-offs of food in ‘dirty’ modes of transport (scooters and cars), potentially covering large geographical areas. Unless they are driving electric vehicles or cycling, then sustainable packaging is not enough – hospitality firms need to look at the whole picture: packaging, supply chains, energy, transport, food miles etc to ensure they are truly tackling the issue.
5. Counter-offers and salary increases
We’re seeing many firms offering big salary hikes in order to attract and retain people, as well as counter-offers to stop key staff moving to competitors.
Now that employers no longer have the luxury of an endless pool of candidates anymore, they are having to raise wages and invest in their people. Many workers are still worried about job security, especially with the furlough scheme having now ended and with the winter looming and the potential for restrictions to be brought in once again. Many firms will be reluctant to lose staff for fear of not being able to replace them, so will be doing all they can to hold onto them.
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