Time to give young talent their voice again and to promote the industry’s soft power.

After one of the most dramatic of weeks, one could be excused wondering whatever next. It does seem to be one drama after another and the challenges seem to grow that much harder all the time. It is said that only 33% of hospitality operations are making a profit. Everywhere one turns, operators are bemoaning the lack of talent and wondering how they can evolve their service offers.

Hospitality businesses struggle more than twice as much as other industries to fill vacancies and this dynamic clearly needs to be changed if progress is going to be made. Hybrid working, now widely the norm, is giving people an attractive alternative. With mental health issues being a particular feature of the pandemic, people desire employment that fosters better work-life balance, more flexibility and more well-being benefits from their employer. At the same time, the consumer is beginning to feel the pinch and no few eyebrows are being raised at some of the pricing being seen in hotels whilst restaurants have done their best to keep the increases limited.

Many ask for stronger marketing campaigns but the answers lie far closer at home. In times past, the industry was renown for being one of the best in giving responsibility to the young from an early age. This great advantage has been eroded in recent years and it is important that once again talent is given real opportunities to progress.

Over the years, EP has interviewed many great leaders of some of the adventures and stories that they had in their younger careers. One just doesn’t see the same sense of adventure and fun today and somehow this needs reimagining.

The industry is vibrant, sociable, exciting and creative which can compete if it discovers its own USPs. Hospitality can change its so called poor image by playing an ever more central role in how it interacts in communities and society. Over the years, we have often written that the traditional lead figures in communities have fallen away – the local doctor is less visible. The local bank manager is now online. The Hospitality manager is still standing right at the heart and this gives hospitality a real position when its soft power can make a difference. During the pandemic, people yearned to be back out in a restaurant and socialising. This does provide a platform with which to compete.

The question is whether we do get our messaging right?

How many marketing campaign highlight the great roles which many within the industry do play in their communities? Or the great food and produce which the industry serves? The creativity which the industry shows as well as young talents who are loving their careers?

As we rebuild post pandemic, this is the time to once again empower young talent, to give them a voice and opportunity and to take pride in the exceptional skills which so many bring to their customers. Such a strong story could be developed with the right creatives in place.