The hospitality industry certainly hasn’t had it easy. With the pandemic closing restaurants and hotels, we were relieved when it was safe to reopen.
But then, the pandemic seemed like a distant memory when the cost of living started to increase, there were issues getting products, and the hospitality staff shortage only got worse.
Almost makes you sad to see the end of the pandemic with the new challenges that seem to come one after the other.
You’ve probably found yourself with your head in your hands wondering how on earth your hospitality business is going to survive.
But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. If you see this rough patch as an opportunity and change the way you work, you could thrive and surpass your competitors.
What are the Current Issues in the Hospitality Industry?
The hospitality sector is facing an uncertain winter this year. Many restaurants are thinking about closing during winter (if not permanently), because of a shortage of staff and rising hospitality bills.
Cost of Living Impact on the Hospitality Industry
The rising living costs has directly impacted the spending in the hospitality sector with growth in fast-food, takeaways, bars and clubs, lower than earlier this year, plunging from 79.6% to 41.7%.
The cost of living has increased prices for essential products and services such as food and energy which has meant consumers are continually struggling and are reluctant to spend.
The government capped the amount residents could be charged and created the Energy Bill Relief Scheme which will give non-domestic customers a discount on the wholesale cost.
But this doesn’t go far enough when bills are still thousands of pounds more expensive than before.
Supply Chain Issues
There have been problems getting products or getting them on time due to new immigration rules due to Brexit, labour shortages forcing ports to close, and changes in demand.
The supply chain issues are set to continue until at least 2024 and hospitality businesses will continue to struggle to source products which affects hospitality services.
Inflation in the Hospitality Sector
Inflation is the highest since the 1980s and has meant the rise in the cost of many items. For the hospitality sector, food and drink costs have been the biggest issue.
For 60% of businesses, they have seen significant rising costs of food and drink due to inflation.
The CGA and Fourth Business Confidence Survey found hospitality food costs have risen up to 40% including grains by 35%, meat by 35%, and fish by 25%.
The average food prices had increased by 10% compared with prices in 2019.
It’s not surprising then that 60% of businesses have seen a significant increase for the price of food and drink which means lower margins and possibly passing this cost on to their customers, which doesn’t help attracting customers.
Overall menu prices have risen by an average of 9% and are due to rise again by 6% in the next year.
Hospitality Staff Shortage
The UK hospitality industry has always struggled to keep up with the high turnover of staff, but this issue has become unmanageable since Covid.
Foreign workers left and didn’t come back, and poor pay and conditions have contributed to escalating the issue.
This has led to 45% of businesses cutting their trading hours because they just didn’t have enough staff.
Rise in Rates
From April next year businesses could face a £900 million increase in their rates which is a rise of one third.
UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, is calling on the government to scrap the plans and extend rates relief for the hospitality sector.
How Your hospitality Business can Thrive
You may feel like there’s no hope in sight with so many problems hurled at you at once. But there are plenty of things you can do to ensure your business survives this rough patch.
Invest in Technology
Technology can solve many problems for your business, from automating certain repetitive tasks to helping you make better decisions quickly.
Streamlining your processes by using technology can mean you do more with less employees, such as self-check-in.
It can help you streamline your supplier base and change your menu when there’s supply chain problems.
It can also help to automate your marketing.
People are busy and while they may like your business, they’ll probably forget about it unless you consistently remind them.
Certain actions consumers take on your website could trigger emails, such as when they leave something in their cart or visit your site but don’t purchase.
This frees up staff time and means you don’t miss out on opportunities to grow your revenue.
Invest in a Good Website
Third-parties or online travel agents (OTAs) may be where a lot of your business comes from, but it is best to get it direct from your website.
When people go to your website, you can capture their information such as their email to market to them.
You can also get an accurate picture of who is looking at your site. Who is it appealing to, their age group, their location, and lots of other information which helps you market to your target audience and increase your revenue.
Reduce Your Menu
Some businesses offer the world on a plate on their menu. You don’t have to provide choice upon choice to make sure you’re giving people what they want.
Giving consumers lots of choice can make them more confused and lead to “choice paralysis”. It can lead to more time and effort deciding and also reduce their satisfaction with their choice.
Keep your menu simple and this will help cut your food costs.
Create a Clean Workplace
Dirty workplaces can lead to reduced productivity, more stress, and an increase in sick days, which all lead to higher costs for your business.
It not only is disgusting and an unpleasant environment to work in, but it also gives the impression that you don’t care about your business which means you probably don’t care about your staff.
Lots of reddit users said they asked to go to the loo while on an interview to check how clean it is and will reject job proposals because of dirty premises.
Encourage a clean culture at your workplace by using signs to encourage handwashing, always have supplies of cleaning materials for staff to use, and possibly invest in a professional cleaning service.
Energy Cost Cutting
While it may seem that there’s nothing you can do about your rising energy costs, you can always invest in sustainable solutions.
Solar power or hydrocarbon water filtering systems can not only save you money on your energy bill, but they can help to reduce your carbon footprint which appeals to customers.
This will take a bit of money to begin with, although there are grants available, and it will also save you money in the long-term, to help support your business for the future.
Some departments have no idea what the other is doing and this means missing out on opportunities.
For example, the sales and marketing department should work together to coordinate marketing efforts. If sales are offering a deal but don’t tell marketing, then no one will know about it.
Sales also deal directly with customers which means they can pass on this knowledge to the rest of the departments to provide a customised experience.
Ongoing training and growth are part of creating a highly engaged workforce. When your workforce is highly engaged it can increase productivity by 17% and increase profit.
Studies show by training staff in one additional task, it can be beneficial for your business.
It can help motivate staff by giving them more responsibility and variation. It also provides you with flexibility if you’re running low on staff.
It gives staff experience in other areas of the business which helps increase their knowledge and provide better customer service.
This doesn’t mean, however, piling on the work for no compensation. You need to reward your staff for contributing to the business.
This could be pay increases or other rewards such as free meals during work, discounts on stays for family and friends, or providing free mental health services.
Helping Your Hospitality Business Grow
While everything you read may seem like another punch to the stomach, you can control certain elements of your business.
Take charge and implement a new way of working that will help your business flourish.
When money is tight, it may seem like the worse time to invest in your business, but by doing so, you’re getting ahead of most of your competitors.
Rising hospitality costs doesn’t have to mean struggling to survive. Rising industry costs can mean you rise to meet the challenge.