As the questions become harder, so more focus on the basics.

Every business and leader across business and society is being asked a whole new set of questions, as people wrestle with the challenges which have arisen in 2022 from the pandemic, the war and the economic uncertainty.

What new models can be adopted? How does one support teams and employees with the cost of living crisis? How does business solve the talent shortages?

This has set the stage for a new narrative and yet at the same time, many are simply stepping back to retrench and focus on the core pillars on which the industry has been founded – food, service and hospitality care. As one CEO noted “We almost need to have three budgets to cover all the possible scenarios that may happen. It is easier to focus on ensuring that our product is that much better than others”

It is complex. It does serve to create an uncertain landscape. One can understand that “management speak” becomes secondary and all focus that much harder on quality and developing a service offer which engages audiences.

However, it needs to be stressed that hospitality does possess a genuine opportunity in this time:

  • All across Europe, there have been a growing number of reports of how the young have started to once again embrace old traditions in cookery and food, learn old recipes and have a new understanding for how dining together does bring together people so much more effectively than almost anything else. At this time are people reverting to old ways? The Swedish have long argued that cooking together bonds people better than most things. The Irish have an old proverb which notes that “the best laughter comes when eating together”. It is good news that cooking is once again on the rise even if the numbers eating out may also fall.
  • At the same time, there is a real increase in understanding the value of service and how it does make people feel. So many have remarked at how they had taken service for granted until Covid struck and how important a role good service plays in making an experience and making a customer feel valued.
  • Hospitality did step forward during the pandemic and played a central role in society in a way that very few others did. It was valued and has changed many perceptions.

The primary challenge for the industry is economic; not perception. How does it navigate a path through the crisis and how does it rebuild better? How does it tap into the growth in interest in cooking and service to attract the best talent?

An opportunity may exist but can the industry grasp it?

Many experts are forecasting fundamental changes to be seen across the industry. It too needs to adapt just as the consumer and employee has adapted. It will, of course, but the future will be different.