Crisis? What crisis? Hospitality will still be standing and prospering in 40 years time.

How many others can say the same?
However, will the industry grasp the opportunity?

The above is a point made very well in a discussion last week with one of the industry’s greats. It is a fair point. The industry has grown increasingly stronger and more central in daily life over the past 30 years and it is likely to do so for the next 40 years as well. Can the same be said in relation to the motor industry? Computers? Banks and financial institutions? Property?

Why wouldn’t an investor naturally want to invest in hotels as a premium option?

Given this, isn’t it strange that the industry has always struggled to make a stronger argument for itself as an excellent career route? There are many arguments but given the loss of ease to access European talent, one has to ask if the industry is really any further forward than it was back in the mid-1990s? Has the industry really progressed as it should have done in the last twenty-five years?

It is the challenge now to be faced. The industry does possess a strong and robust future. There will be major challenges to be faced but it has a demand and customers who want great experiences. However, maybe it does need to work harder at the piece which does sit centrally – people. Research does suggest that L&D budgets have halved in the last decade. It is also clear that the industry was not prepared for Brexit and the loss of so much talent. Yes, one can blame the pandemic but the Brexit vote did take place in 2016.

More and more people are seeking to buy experiences over goods and materialism.

Maybe this is the inherent weakness that the industry faces? It needs to stop focusing on asset management and business models; find space for a focus and investment back into people.

Service is very likely to be one of the major differentials going forward. More and more people are seeking to buy experiences over goods and materialism. If that trend continues, then people and service are the very factors which will sit centrally to the future success of the industry.

The base facts suggest that the industry could be the greatest of all industries rather than the poor cousin that it often fears that it is; however, it does need to stand tall for itself.

One of the most concerning discussions of this time has been a growing awareness of how little was prepared for both Brexit and for the return from the pandemic. Even at this moment, there are many still blaming Brexit and expecting a return to a world which existed in 2019. It comes across as denial rather than really understanding that things have changed, that the world has evolved in many new ways and that new behaviours are emerging.

If experiences grow in importance, then hospitality could face its greatest era yet. People and talent will sit right at the heart so it will need investment and care.