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A flexible future - Ed’s letter


The sector could be forgiven for thinking it’s one thing after another. After another. After another. And then some more. Having a business which relies on consumers having spare money after covering off not freezing suddenly seems like a bizarre sort of a thing to do with your days.

At next month’s HOSPACE I will be chairing a debate with Kate Nicholls from UKHospitality, Andrew Stembridge at Iconic Luxury Hotels and Bespoke Hotels’ Thomas Greenall. And here’s the twist: we have to be positive.

A wise call, because, really, who can take any more head-in-hands? There’s a terrible risk of RSI for one thing.

The good news here is, that, well, there is good news. The sector is changing. Yes, much of this was forced: first of all by Brexit, which drained the sector of cheap and available team members. Then the pandemic, which saw venues emptied. Then inflation and an extra dose of uncertainty courtesy of some economic experimentation.

What is on offer now is different to what has come before. Technology - once felt to be the ruination of service - is now being embraced. Some venues have even spoken about the improvements to experience being a greater motivation for adoption than the savings to staffing.

The need to make every area of a venue pay its way has meant that dead space has been employed for coworking, for pop-up food carts, for arts and other ways to bring in the local community and make them more vibrant.

Smaller teams means more empowerment for those on the front line, a chance to inspire and innovate and create more satisfying roles.

But while the operations are different, one thing remains the same: the enthusiasm of people to offer hospitality and the appetite to enjoy it.

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