the kindness and generosity of guests to make up the shortfall in salary. Sure, the additional income is welcomed and much appreciated – but it’s rare that gratuities are a necessity rather than an added bonus. The story in the US, for example, can, as we know, be quite different, with waiting staff expecting and relying on open-handed guests to pay the bills.

Get to the root of the issue So, what’s the problem? I believe it to be one of perception. The ‘holiday job’ syndrome, the antisocial hours, the shouty chefs, the ungrateful customers – working in the ‘service’ industry can be difficult. Let’s address those issues. Those of us who have made a career in the industry know it to be so much more rewarding than the average holiday job. We have benefitted from exceptional teamwork to quick promotions and from the pleasure of contributing to happy guests. Flipping antisocial hours on its head and looking at it differently – perhaps working during the social hours could be seen as a bonus? To be earning money while others are spending and still enjoying the atmosphere. Flexible rotas could and should be marketed as a positive reason to join the industry. The shouty chefs have been glamourised by television, but in reality, the kitchen, while often frenetic, is less likely to be the bullying environment that people imagine. And yes, of course, there will always be the odd grumpy customer, but conversely there will be grateful customers too, and each and every single hospitality employee can contribute towards making that guest’s day. What a wonderful sentiment to embrace. As an industry, we need to dig a little deeper and think more broadly. To change the outward perception of what we do and what we offer, we need to spread the word. The enormous opportunity to travel with hospitality skills and to find employment in every corner of the world should be shouted from rooftop bars across the globe. I can think of very few alternative careers that offer such a vast level of transferable skills that are so needed in all countries. Parents, career advisors, and teachers should be encouraging the younger generation to consider hospitality, so we need to educate them on its tremendous benefits. If every general manager and head of department went back to their school or college to tell positive stories about their careers and their boundless prospects, we could collectively inspire a whole new generation to join the industry. Imagine the positive impact of many industry figures, wherever they are on their career ladder, encouraging people from where they grew up. It would be incredible.

Hotel Management International /

Embrace hospitality It’s not just about educating prospects either. Those that take steps to join hospitality should be firmly embraced. As soon as a new (or existing) employee is showing a spark of energy, enthusiasm and is making guests happy, we should recognise it and applaud it. We should offer training and professional development to enable them to take the next step up the ladder. We should be listening and supporting, mentoring, and guiding. We should be nurturing the next generation, encouraging them to embrace all that is positive, sharing our knowledge and understanding how we support their development. Above all, we must give them the time of day to tell us what they think. Sure, there will be suggestions that previous experience might not work – and if that is the case, take time to explain why their idea may not succeed. But don’t dismiss their enthusiasm and don’t jump to conclusions without listening to their point of view in full.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, it’s a pivotal time for the hospitality industry |and any future success will very much be built on the strength of our people.”

Many of you will know Sally Beck and her initiative of the Hoteliers’ Charter, which seeks to raise the profile of the industry. Each year, HOSPA holds its annual conference at her hotel, The Royal Lancaster, London. We know first-hand how an engaged general manager influences the quality of the service within the hotel, and contributes so positively to an enthusiastic and cheerful team throughout the whole establishment. Speaking of our conference – HOSPACE – on 18 November 2021, we will be addressing the issues around encouraging hospitality careers, as well as looking at sustainability, technology issues around digital identity, current finance topics and executive stress. If you’re keen to learn more, you can book your place now. We are delighted to be partnering with HTNG this year – another great reason to join us.

As we emerge from the pandemic, it’s a pivotal time for the hospitality industry and any future success will very much be built on the strength of our people. So, now is the time to draw up long- term visions as to how we can convince some of the brightest and best that hospitality is for them. It will require a wide-ranging, collaborative effort and I do hope you can join us in this endeavour. ●


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