EP Business in Hospitality, along with Catering Scotland, jointly hosted a remote industry forum this week with 28 leading hospitality figures and hoteliers to debate the challenges ahead and how the sector will navigate its way out of the current crisis.
Key threads from the discussion showed that hospitality businesses are coming together to share knowledge and work more collaboratively in a discussion that showed a real desire for unity as a means to achieve clarity during these difficult times. Industry leaders believe that this trend would also continue in the longer term, suggesting it is more powerful when businesses work together.
A key area identified during the debate was that a lot of organisations are working on the issues they face but that this is often not joined up enough, leaders questioned how this could be changed.
The discussion also revealed that there are hard choices to come for many and operators believe it will take some time before any real recovery is in motion.
The following key factors were raised:
• Workforces will be downsized but the hope is that many businesses can start to re-employ from late 2021.
• The high street will be hard hit and many restaurant and pub groups could face CVAs.
• Even in universities, virtual learning will become a reality and many students may well take a gap year during this period.
• The industry will lose talent as it finds work in other industries.
• There is real concern over mental health among the young during this crisis and it was noted how we must provide hope and a positive vision for the future for them.
• There is a real leadership role that industry needs to engage with to ensure younger employees do not lose faith in the sector. This is a common theme, which came up time and again during the session.
Chris Sheppardson, CEO at EP Business in Hospitality who hosted the forum, commented, “There is a notable desire to keep everyone communicating and collaborating during this crisis.
'While there is little clarity or certainty in terms of how the sector will operate in the coming months, keeping contact and communications open and consistent will ensure we are better connected, better informed and better placed to act when the time comes.”
The discussion also highlighted hope for the sector:
• It was noted that many businesses understand that they need root and branch reform and a greater balance and focus on investing in talent and sustainability.
• Even if the sustainability agenda has taken a short-term step back during this crisis, it will return with a greater emphasis and importance.
• There is a need for progressive thinking and plans in relation engaging the young from early years, and keeping up the momentum throughout their education. It was noted how good it is to see cookery re-emerge in the home during this period.
• Hotels can be the safe places for many. A number of companies are developing new cleaning methodologies, and design too will play a more important role. It was commented that as many people work more remotely from offices, will they start to combine holidays with work, so accommodation providers need to consider spaces that accommodate both work and leisure.
Formed in 2019, EPCIS Media is a joint venture between EP Business in Hospitality and Catering Scotland. Aiming to bring together people and professions from across the hospitality spectrum, EPCIS provides a platform for discussion and examination of the issues affecting operators and individuals throughout the sector.