Bouncing Back After COVID

Bouncing Back After COVID

Bouncing back: how will hospitality surge when the virus is under control?

Sooner or later, the long nightmare of Covid-19 will become history. Vaccines are here and more are coming. There is light at the end of the long, dark tunnel, even if no-one can be sure when we’ll be fully in clear light again. Millions of minds and words will then be dedicated to hindsight research, trying to establish what lessons can and should be learned.

In the meantime, the three million-plus involved (pre-Covid) directly or indirectly in the UK’s hospitality sector – the UK’s third-largest employer, with over 9% of the country’s total workforce – will turn their considerable energies to bouncing back from one of the toughest years in living memory.

Covid hammered the sector very hard, wiping out up to 20% of hospitality jobs in 2020, according to official estimates. So how has this affected hospitality and how will it bounce back when the virus is under control?

Constant changes

Even after the immediate impact of the lockdown, the hospitality sector was asked to cope with continuing changes in restrictions and operational requirements, making staff planning, among many other aspects, extremely challenging.

It’s a fantasy to assume that all those stood-down staff were sitting around, waiting for the call to come back to work. Some were, of course, but by no means all. People need to work and many will have moved industry to secure work, with many redundant hospitality staff quickly attending to the boom in delivery driving, for instance.

To complicate matters further, continuing uncertainties of future residency and work requirements for thousands of EU citizens, many of whom have previously worked in the hospitality sector, has prompted many to leave the UK or make plans to do so.

Who will bounce back first?

After a long year of restrictions, all the signs are that the vast majority of the public is chomping at the bit to get out and about again the moment they are free to do so - and of course as soon as the pubs, restaurants and cafes are fully ready to safely welcome them. The venues who get up to speed ahead of the game, with proper measures and well-trained staff in place, are surely the ones who will sweep up many of the first wave of customers.

And let’s remember that the hospitality industry covers a very wide range of areas. Offices, factories, schools, golf courses, hotels, sporting venues and many more, in addition to pubs, cafes and restaurants, all require well-chosen and trained catering and hospitality staff support to function normally. Who will bounce back first? Schools and universities are probably among the highest priorities, with sporting venues, hotels and general hospitality close behind. With the longer-term future for remote working in question, non-public facing office-based hospitality premises may be a little slower to fully bounce back.

So, when the economical and social life lights eventually do turn green and stay there, hospitality businesses will be looking for many thousands of quality new people in order to get fully up to speed in record time. Which we can agree is no small task.