The 2021 series of Ask Arena virtual events got off to a fantastic start with ‘Hospitality – The Road to Recovery’ sponsored by Access Hospitality – one of the UK’s leading suppliers of software to the hospitality market. It was an action-packed hour that gave an up-to-the-minute overview of the current situation from Kate Nicholls OBE, CEO, UKHospitality and explored the focus of hospitality professionals planning their re-openings with a highly experienced panel of experts. Read on as Lorraine Wood, Arena's Director, reviews the valuable and well-attended event below...
Our 2021 series of Ask Arena virtual events got off to a fantastic start yesterday morning (Thursday 28 January) with ‘Hospitality – The Road to Recovery’ sponsored by Access Hospitality – one of the UK’s leading suppliers of software to the hospitality market. It was an action-packed hour that gave an up-to-the-minute overview of the current situation from Kate Nicholls OBE, CEO, UKHospitality and explored the focus of hospitality professionals planning their re-openings with a highly experienced panel of experts.
This was clearly a topic that sparked a lot of interest and I was overwhelmed that more than 500 hospitality professionals from across the sector joined us! Thank you to everyone that tuned in, and if you missed it, don’t worry as there's a link to a recording of the event below.
Firstly, I'd also like to share some of the stand-out points that I took from the session.
It’s fair to say that we’d all hoped that the New Year would have started very differently. Kate Nicholls last joined us as we entered the second lockdown back in November, so it was only fitting that we brought her back in the third, to give an update on the current state of play and the potential route map out to get us back to what we do best.
Kate’s hard-hitting stats painted a clear picture of the devastating impact of Covid-19 on our beloved industry. One year ago, we were in great shape and the hospitality sector represented 11% of employment, 7% of GDP and £130bn of revenue. By the end of 2020 this impressive revenue had more than halved, £200million a day in lost sales (that’s £8 per hour) and our employment headcount of 3.2 million dropped by 30% with more than 660,000 colleagues sadly losing their jobs so far.
Kate’s optimism, however, was really uplifting as she said: “This is the scale of what we’ve lost but also the opportunity of what we can recover if we get the right support moving forward.”
Getting the right support from Government is exactly what the UKHospitality team is working hard on. It’s taking its strong stats, including the fact that it’s costing half a billion pounds a month to keep the industry closed, and a three-point plan to the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Business Minister to influence decision making and make sure hospitality gets the support it needs to rebuild and support overall economic recovery.
To get back to what we do best, we need to be at full strength. Extension of the temporary measures will help but we also need long-term structural reform, including business rates and landlord and tenant planning and licensing. And we need to ensure training, apprenticeships and vocational qualifications are fit for purpose to reskill people in the new economy, meet career aspirations and change the perception of our industry as a career of choice for good.
The message to Government is clear and credible, a supported hospitality industry is the best way to deliver economic recovery at pace across the country as we reach into every constituency.
The panel discussion, hosted by Paul Pavli, Exec Director, NED & Strategic Consultant - Hospitality & Leisure Sector, that followed Kate’s update was a great watch. Thank you to Kate, Hamish Stoddart, Managing Director, Peach Pub Company; Jonathan Raggett, Managing Director, Red Carnation Hotels; Frank Bandura, Chief Financial Officer, Gusto Restaurants Ltd. and David Whyte, Hospitality Solutions Consultant from Access Hospitality for your time, expertise and inspiration. I think there was something for everyone in the conversation. The breadth of questions that were asked is testament to this.
It may feel to many, as we await clarity from the Government, that we are planning in the dark. But as the panel showed with experiences, best practice and innovations generously shared, no one should feel alone. We’re all in this together and against a backdrop of bad news, there are opportunities to grow.
When discussing how best to navigate 2021 and their priorities ahead, the panel covered four key topics:
There’s no doubt that we’ve a tough road ahead and consumer confidence is going to be harder to rebuild this time round. However, over the past year our industry has shown great resilience and agility and the passion and optimism of our speakers reaffirmed that as well as challenges ahead, there are always opportunities.
Finally, when asked what the sector can do to help UKHospitality ensure hospitality gets the support it needs, her firm response was that there’s sheer weight in numbers so ‘engage with your MPs’!
Huge thanks to Access Hospitality for sponsoring the event and to William Murray PR & Marketing and 23 Digital Video Agency for helping me put this together.