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Do we really want to ‘go back to normal’? 2: the hospitality industry

  • by JW

“In countries such as France or Spain, working as serving staff or behind a bar is viewed as a lifelong vocation. Sadly, I think some people in the UK wrongly view such jobs as simply menial or a stopgap.”

“Move over, sustainable travel. The pandemic has birthed a call for a model of tourism that builds back better by going one step further than the motto of reaching net-zero. Regenerative tourism calls for a paradigm shift long overdue. Seen as a leap forward from simply developing tourism sustainably, regenerative tourism encourages travellers to leave a place better than they found it.”



A year ago, local eateries were allowed to spill out of their confines:

Street café culture for Sidmouth? – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Although some were allowed more space than others:

Street café culture for Sidmouth? part two – Vision Group for Sidmouth

This followed on from the government’s measures last spring:

Jenrick confirms extension of pavement licences to help high streets recover – GOV.UK

Which suggested we might be in for a positive culture change:

Is England’s café culture set for a boost? – BBC News

And now that the government intends to make the streets much more available for eating and drinking, we might well see further changes in ‘culture’:

More outside dining and takeaway pints to continue as part of government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda – Manchester Evening News



It’s also very much about ‘helping hospitality’.

As reported a fortnight ago in the Cornish & Devon Post, “the under-represented small businesses in the sector” need some help:

Long-term help must be given to ensure the survival of small hospitality and tourism businesses, according to a new report by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). A Menu for Recovery calls for the development of a UK hospitality and tourism sector strategy, asks that red tape holding back small firms from operating as takeaways and in outside spaces is cut, and introduces ways to help them employ the staff they need… The report asks Government to help small firms in the sector employ and retain skilled staff, which many businesses are struggling to do against a backdrop of Brexit and the pandemic.

Calls to help tourism and hospitality sector | Cornish & Devon Post

And last month, East Devon’s MP was ‘banging the drum for hospitality’:

Venues across East Devon have shown flexibility, ingenuity, and vigour in adapting to the temporary rules to ensure a safe and secure experience for us all. We have a part to play too. We should be patient when it comes to table service and to understand that staff are doing the best they can to take and deliver orders in good time…

Hospitality is the backbone of East Devon. Its prominence and contribution to the local economy is vital. I sometimes feel that we do not properly acknowledge the importance of this sector in terms of how staff are viewed or valued. By this, I don’t necessarily mean by their employers, but by us as customers.

In countries such as France or Spain, working as serving staff or behind a bar is viewed as a lifelong vocation. Sadly, I think some people in the UK wrongly view such jobs as simply menial or a stopgap. They simply aren’t. A lifelong rewarding career is possible. We need to change the perception and recognise how hospitality staff are not only necessary to have a vibrant and successful local economy, but also act as ambassadors for East Devon whenever they interactive with a customer or a tourist.

Banging the drum for hospitality in East Devon is such an important thing to do – Devon Live



As Simon Jupp says, however, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to attract staff.

Several Sidmouth pubs are having to close for a couple of days a week because of lack of people to take on in the kitchen:

Looming staff shortages set to stretch reopened British pubs | Reuters

In April, as places began to open up again, it was reaching crisis point:

Recruitment crisis in the hospitality industry – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And last month, it was clear that it was getting really bad, especially in the West Country:

Recruitment crisis ratchets up – Vision Group for Sidmouth

What is really clear is that the industry just isn’t attractive enough:

Ensuring there are ‘interesting jobs’ for young people – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And to echo the East Devon MP, it has a lot to do with ‘Victorian attitudes’ to the service industries:

Looking to the future, is the UK “stuck in Victorian times when it comes to our attitude to hospitality workers”? Or will there be a new norm for our hospitality industry?

The long-term effects of the pandemic on the West Country economy – Vision Group for Sidmouth



But this has been a much longer-term issue.

This is from 2014:

Recruitment: Making hospitality an attractive career option

From 2016:

There are Several Reasons Why a Hospitality Career is more Attractive than ever in Today’s Climate… |

From 2018:

5 steps to make your hotel more attractive for millennials by HotelFriend

So, are we really going to see a step change in how the hospitality industry is run post pandemic?

Perhaps we need to be looking at other, ‘key’ workers, including truck drivers:

Last month (June), The Morning Advertiser ​reported a national lack of HGV drivers due to the coronavirus pandemic was hit further by the reopening of shops and the hospitality sector, causing concerns about costs.

The Department for Transport has now introduced a temporary relaxation of the enforcement of the retained EU drivers’ hours rule in England, Scotland and Wales due to the pressures on local and national supply chains.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “We oppose wholesale extensions to drivers’ hours as we believe they can be counter-productive by making the job less attractive. Loading more hours on to drivers that are already exhausted is not the answer – the problem needs more than just a sticking plaster.”

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said the extended hours just “papered over the cracks” and called on the Government for further action.

What impact does the delivery driver shortage have on pubs?

Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried | Logistics | Supply Chain Digital

And the opening up on the 19th is going to be difficult to manage, as reported in today’s Observer:

Hospitality businesses have put up wages, opened summer schools and are even offering referral bonuses of more than £1,000 as they struggle to draw in enough workers, even before 19 July in England…

The situation is not only affecting staff in dining and drinking establishments but also their supply chain, adding to the cost of restocking fridges and wine cellars. A shortage of delivery drivers, field workers and abattoir teams has only fuelled the inflation on food and drink coming from the EU caused by new bureaucracy related to Brexit. Prices of wine, olive oil and specialist foods such as fish roe have risen more than 10% as a result of the new import rules, while supplies can prove volatile.

Staff shortages force restaurants and pubs to face ‘freedom day’ with fear | Food & drink industry | The Guardian



There have been lots of reports put together by industry analysists over the past year – most of which talk about investing in techology and marketing, which are clearly important:

COVID-19: The great hospitality reset

Hospitality is changing its business model to thrive in the post-COVID world: | Aon

What Is Shaping The Future Of The Hospitality Industry? | By Philip Bacon & Irene Santos – Hospitality Net

It might indeed be not necessary to employ people in menial tasks:

Reducing cleaning at hotels: workers fear jobs won’t return as policies change – The Washington Post

Because many of these former hospitality staff were told to retrain over a year ago, with a report from Nevada from last month:

To fully appreciate this trend in shifting worker attitudes, we must start with how the pandemic jolted and dislodged workers’ sense of confidence in the stability of their employment. Last March, the pandemic forced the closure of shuttered businesses, schools, colleges and public spaces. Hospitality workers and others in Nevada were warned repeatedly that “millions of jobs probably aren’t coming back, even after the pandemic ends.” They were told they needed to “reboot entirely, learning new skills for new jobs” and “seek work with new industries or in new occupations.” In response, workforce ecosystem stakeholders rallied to provide opportunities to dislocated workers. Many institutions of higher education, libraries, and platforms like Coursera launched new programs that allowed workers to return to the classroom to upskill or explore a new career. In Nevada, the College of Southern Nevada, for example, launched more than twenty accelerated “rapid response” degree and certificate programs…

Other workers who were directly affected by the pandemic may have chosen to reassess their interests, revisit their careers, and leave the hospitality and leisure industry entirely. Prior to the pandemic, job satisfaction, particularly among low-wage earners, was low: only 40 percent of workers classified their employment as good; about 45 percent of workers polled said their jobs were “mediocre;” and 16 percent admitted they were working “bad jobs.” Washington Post economics correspondent Heather Long summarizes this dynamic: “There is also growing evidence – both anecdotal and in surveys – that a lot of people want to do something different with their lives than they did before the pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak has had a dramatic psychological effect on workers, and people are re-assessing what they want to do and how they want to work, whether in an office, at home or some hybrid combination.” A February 2021 Pew Research Center survey found that two-thirds of adults who were unemployed, furloughed or temporarily laid off indicated that “they’ve seriously considered changing fields or occupations since they’ve been unemployed.” Zip Recruiter economist Julia Pollak noted, “70 percent of people coming off unemployment benefits are going to new employers.”

It’s not a worker shortage, it’s a worker renaissance in a post-pandemic economy – The Nevada Independent



Finally, though, the other shift in thinking has to be in understanding the impact of the tourist industry:

The impact of tourism on the planet – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Looking to a new kind of tourism after the corornavirus – Vision Group for Sidmouth

The latest idea is ‘regenerative tourism’:

Move over, sustainable travel. The pandemic has birthed a call for a model of tourism that builds back better by going one step further than the motto of reaching net-zero. Regenerative tourism, the latest buzzword to enter the green scene, calls for a paradigm shift long overdue. Seen as a leap forward from simply developing tourism sustainably, regenerative tourism encourages travellers to leave a place better than they found it.

Regeneration rising | TTG Asia

Regenerative travel is not just another buzzword, it is a paradigm shift. Sustainable travel was just the first step. Especially now, while we are still navigating Covid-19, there is a need for us to begin to repair and replenish. Regeneration is a concept that has been applied across other fields like regenerative agriculture or regenerative medicine – it is a practice you can apply to any part of your life. It is not being green or sustainable, it is a holistic approach to living. Regeneration requires a new mental model, language, and framework of thinking. In order to move from sustainable to regeneration, you have a whole systems approach that creates abundance for all stakeholders – the land, the people and community, and the wildlife. The most surprising thing we have found is that once travelers have experienced a “regenerative” way of traveling, they don’t want to go back to how they were traveling before.

Q&A: What Is Regenerative Travel & Can It Help Reverse The Damage We Have Done To Planet?

There are some great initiatives happening:

Sustainable tourism key to Cumbria’s new carbon neutral plan | Green travel | The Guardian

‘Cars are an addiction’: How Lisbon is turning green for good | Euronews

Why St Davids is Wales’ rising eco star | The Independent

Including in Devon:

Eco Friendly Devon | Visit Devon

Best eco-friendly holidays – Times Travel

From dolphins to rewilding: 11 environment-friendly holidays for 2021 | Green travel | The Guardian

From offshore wind to marine robots and electric flights – this is the future of the South West – Business Live

And Sidmouth:

Creating a Coral Reef Community Garden at the Ham underway – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Our green corridors – connecting with nature – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Friends of Glen Goyle – A Vision Group for Sidmouth initiative

photo: Ed Dolphin: Views of Glen Goyle – Friends of Glen Goyle