An industry in need of change the way it thinks?

“The industry has not innovated enough in the past decade; now it is playing catch up”

The above quote was from a leading CEO in a private meeting last week. The CEO went on to say “The problem is that most became preoccupied with models that worked rather than ensuring that there was any real investment into building stronger pillars so that our businesses were sustainable. This period, therefore, has come as a shock.

Most should be, and if they are not then I am not sure where they have been in the last year, that the industry needs to seriously invest back into:

· Our people and their development

· Digital innovation and not to see it as a cost reduction tool but as a way of making the customer journey stronger

· Service – let’s innovate in every area and make the experience even better.

The industry is always asking the Government to do more but haven’t they done their bit? It is up to the industry now to create its own solutions and find a road forward. It is going to be a bumpy six months or even a year ahead. It is going to hurt but it will make us all improve. I do firmly believe that this is a reset or correction, whatever words you wish to use, and long term we will emerge stronger. Short-term will be testing.”

Another retired senior industry player agreed with much of the above and noted:“ The industry used to be one of the best in seeing great talents being able to raise themselves from being a chef to becoming a CEO. Regrettably, this has not been the case in the last twenty years. The industry became pre-occupied by business models and the qualifications of its senior people. All well and good but not if we lost sight of what matters. Hospitality is about providing care and service to our customers. It is more than asset management, purchasing power and robust models. It is first about people and that is the piece that got pushed to the side. That was not good enough. If this now changes, then thank god.”

Whether one agrees with the above comments or not, it is going to be a testing period of time and changes will be needed. The next year will not be for those without a clear plan. The challenges are clear and here to stay.

· Inflation for Hospitality average between 11-14%

· Food inflation to be in the region of 6%

· Utility bills to increase by 50-100%

· 188,000 vacancies across the Industry

· With City centre density is very likely to be 20-30% less over the full week and with working patterns now changing in a way never seen before.

The industry has never been so challenged and it will need to be far more innovative and flexible in the way that it acts and thinks. It could well be a new era for fresh ideas, broader thinking and innovation to a level not seen before.

There is no doubt that the industry, and many companies, will reinvent themselves, come out stronger than ever. The Industry may have been slower to innovate in the last decade but maybe it will react and flourish now as it adapts to a new landscape.