It seems like we have been waiting forever but London’s hospitality industry is finally back up and running. It is fair to say that the capital is not the same without its bars, restaurants and hotels greeting and entertaining guests from around the world, and it is truly wonderful to see those doors open again.
But even as everyone enjoys the freedom that has followed the government rolling back its COVID-19 restrictions, we all need to be aware of the fact that there are many more challenges on the horizon. We have all been through so much in the last eighteen months, and anyone working in the hospitality sector may have discovered a resilience and a flexibility that they never knew they had. What is going to be even more important in the months to come is being able to anticipate challenges. Here are just a few of the ones that we are already seeing, and some that may be on their way.
Staff shortages are hitting hard
This first point has already been widely reported on, but it is absolutely impossible to ignore. Over the last few months as hospitality venues have reopened, we have seen staggering staff shortages that are affecting a huge number of businesses.
Back in May, it was reported that there were 28% fewer people working in hospitality compared to May 2020. While there are certainly COVID-19-related reasons for some of the staff shortages (more on that in just a moment), one of the biggest culprits is Brexit. EU workers made up a huge proportion of the people working in hospitality, and with things getting more complicated surrounding their settled status, many have chosen to return home. The impact of these shortages will be far-reaching.
A virtual element is a necessity
We all knew that the restrictions rolling back didn’t just mean that we would be able to throw open our doors and welcome in customers for business as usual. Over the course of the pandemic, every hospitality venue has made the adjustment to allow for as much social distancing as possible. We staggered bookings, we reduced the number of tables, and we made sure that customers could do as much as possible online. That means reserving rooms and tables, requesting service, changing arrival dates and times and so on.
Now, many of the rules have been relaxed but this new normal way of doing things is not going anywhere. Owners have been stung enough times by restrictions coming back to abandon this virtual element, so having a property management system that allows for both staff and guest flexibility and accessibility is crucial. Guestline is a great example of a PMS solution platform that allows hospitality venues to keep an eagle eye on every last detail. You can read a detailed break-down of what Guestline has to offer at Hotel Tech Report, which offers real reviews and offers free recommendations.
The pandemic is not over
As much as we would all like this to not be the case, it would be foolish to assume that we have seen the last of Coronavirus. The numbers have certainly been encouraging during the last couple of weeks of July here in the UK, but when scientists and experts are warning that we could see another big wave in the autumn, it makes sense for businesses to listen. No one wants to get caught in another last-minute lockdown scenario that they have not prepared for. Using this time to bolster your plans for this eventuality is definitely a good idea.
But it’s not just something that is in our future. It’s happening right now, as the pingdemic continues to wreak havoc through the hospitality sector and beyond. Bars and restaurants are having to temporarily close because so many of their staff members are having to self-isolate, and hotels are asking the government for clarity. This issue should hopefully be resolved soon but it’s something we are all having to learn to live with.
Supply shortages could be ongoing
We already mentioned how staff shortages are hitting the hospitality sector hard. However, it’s not just people who are in short supply right now. Across the UK, we are seeing reports of supply shortages and dire warnings that they are not going anywhere anytime soon.
Now, one of the causes for the supply shortages that we are seeing right now is the aforementioned pingdemic. One of the reasons why it is so evident is because we are seeing it on supermarket shelves, where there simply not enough workers available to stock them because they are all self-isolating. But there are rumblings of supply warnings beyond the supermarket. We are seeing this issue arise in construction, partly because of a shortage of HGV drivers (again, due to Brexit). But for hospitality venues that rely on imported supplies from the EU, things are going to continue to be difficult is there is not enough budget to pay those premium prices.