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.

Published in Blog
09 Dec 2020

Christmas Tiers

Making sure there's room at the inn this Christmas

There's no question that the newly-announced Covid-19 restrictions for the Christmas 2020 period are yet another serious challenge for the UK's hard-hit hospitality industry. Now that the details are clearer, we know that businesses in the "Very High Risk" Tier 3 areas, including large swathes of the densely populated Midlands, North East and North West, will be especially hard hit. This is estimated to affect over 23 million people. HORECA businesses in these areas will need to rapidly adapt to takeaway, delivery and drive-through services only, in order to keep customers supplied and revenue turning over.

Most of the remaining areas in England and Wales fall into the "High Risk" Tier 2 category. Some 32 million people, around 57% of the total population, will come under these measures. In Tier 2, pubs and restaurants will be able to operate, but with strict rules in place; in particular, alcohol can only be served with a 'substantial meal'. Closing time is strictly 11 pm, with last orders at 10 pm. It's hoped that this will lead to an orderly, more gradual end to the evening.

Only Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Scilly Isles will operate under the more relaxed regime of Tier one.

Management and staff under all three tiers are required to follow rules on contract tracing and personal protection - there are big penalties for failing to do so.

The official list of areas and tiers is available here and there's some useful extra guidance at bbc.com.

It's in everyone's interests that the industry does its absolute best to respond to the situation as it stands and to keep as many customers well-served and happy, even under the most difficult of circumstances. The British hospitality industry has shown many times before that it has remarkable resilience and adaptability under pressure. It will continue to do so, largely with great professionalism and good humour.

For hotel, pub and restaurant owners, one of the biggest challenges is responding to the 'on-off' uncertainties that various Covid restrictions have thrown at them throughout the year. Finding and keeping good, reliable staff, often at short notice, to work Christmas shifts has never been easy, and this year it will surely be one of the toughest challenges yet.

Suitable hospitality staff at all levels have to be found quickly so they can be briefed on all the rules and requirements of their jobs. They must also be ready to overcome inevitable customer frustrations with the current tier system.

Many hard-pressed managers of hotels, pubs and restaurants will be turning to JWR for help infilling their staffing rotas, depending on our advanced databases and social media reach to help find the right people at the right time. With offices in Birmingham, Salisbury, Exeter and London, as well as a reputation as one of the top hospitality recruitment specialists across the whole of the UK, we're well-prepared and ready to rise to the challenge. Together, we'll make sure there is room at the inn this Christmas, whichever tier you're in.

Published in Blog

Support package announced for Wales’ hospitality sector

A £340m support package has been unveiled for Wales’ leisure, tourism and hospitality sectors after new COVID-19 restrictions were announced.

Through the Economic Resilience Fund, the Welsh Government has made a further £340m available to support businesses affected by the new regulations. Split into two, the fund includes a specific package to support tourism and hospitality companies.

The Restrictions Business Fund

The Restrictions Business Fund will allow eligible businesses in the leisure, tourism and hospitality sectors to access grants of up to £5,000 (if they pay non-domestic rates). Approximately 60,000 businesses are predicted to be able to receive this support, all of which have a rateable value of under £150,000.

Any businesses not on the non-domestic rates system can still apply to local authorities for the Lockdown Discretionary Grant, which offers up to £2,000.

Ian Price, director of CBI Wales, said: "For many, having a successful run-in to Christmas would have been vital to keeping the business going through the winter.

"The support package announced by the First Minister will be very welcome. It is important to remember that there are going to be supply chain businesses that will feel the serious impacts of these new measures and it is vital that they are able to benefit from financial support."

The Economic Resilience Fund

In addition to the Restrictions Business Fund, these sectors will also have access to a specific Economic Resilience Fund grant scheme.

Any small or medium-sized business which meets the criteria could receive up to £100,000, while bigger Welsh-based businesses could receive up to £150,000. This part of the fund is expected to support up to 8,000 hospitality, tourism and leisure businesses as well as 2,000 companies in the related supply chain.

To be eligible for the fund, businesses will have to be limited companies with a turnover above £50,000, VAT registered and employing staff via PAYE.

Ken Skates, the Economy Minister for Wales, said: “We expect today’s £340m announcement to support tens of thousands of businesses and help protect many more jobs and livelihoods. It must also be remembered that UK Government support is also available to businesses.

“We will continue to do everything we can to support our firms and our people through these challenging times.”

Learn more about the available grants here.

Published in Blog

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