The Covid-19 pandemic, combined with staff shortages due to Brexit, have created a perfect storm for the hospitality sector.  

Back in May, UK Hospitality said there was a shortfall of 188,000 workers, with a shortage of front-of-house staff and chefs being ‘particularly acute’.  Despite government support, including rates holidays and the furlough scheme, many businesses have been forced to lay off staff during the pandemic.

The hospitality crisis isn't just limited to the UK. Simpleview's DMOs across Europe and in the US have all been impacted. However, the industry is fighting back and it’s encouraging to see our destinations tackling the hospitality crisis head on.

Here’s a couple of examples of great initiatives from our clients…

Island Task Force - Isle of Wight 

Simpleview client, Visit Isle of Wight is part of a Task Force including local businesses from the tourism and hospitality industry, recruitment agencies, educators and Isle of Wight council officers which has been formed to address the national hospitality job crisis.

News OnTheWight interviewed Managing Director of Visit Isle of Wight, Will Myles to get his thoughts and opinions on how the situation came about, what’s happening currently and what can be done to fix it.

Key points from the interview with Will:

  • The problem needs a different approach – local businesses are already doing their own marketing campaigns
  • The process starts by engaging with businesses to find out what they need – the answers to a survey will form the foundations of any decisions going forward
  • Staycation 2021 presents a real opportunity for tourism on the Isle of Wight to shine
  • The key objective is to make hospitality ‘a more desirable occupation’ – not just for the low paid, low skilled and people willing to work long hours
  • Businesses should encourage staff to attend customer care courses so they can optimise the service that they provide
  • Local MPs are playing their part to encourage Visit England and Visit Britain to look at the situation from a national perspective
  • The expectations of customers need to be managed so that they are not making unrealistic demands in the current climate

There’s lots more detail in the full interview with Will on the News OnTheWight website…

The Perfect Place to Work - Cumbria Tourism

Another Simpleview client, Cumbria Tourism has launched a recruitment campaign to bring fresh faces into the industry and address the acute staffing crisis which is threatening the post-pandemic recovery of their visitor economy.  

A recent survey by Cumbria Tourism revealed that 68% of businesses now say that recruitment of staff is a significant problem, despite businesses taking steps such as increasing salaries and benefits, improving shift patterns and offering accommodation.

The #perfectplacetobe campaign promotes the County as not only the ‘perfect place’ to visit but also as a more permanent base to build a life and career.  The campaign invites both locals and people from further afield to consider tourism and hospitality jobs in the world-famous Lake District and wider county of Cumbria.

A mix of on and off-line media has been adopted including social media and webinars, as well as high-level lobbying to generate wider awareness of the issues.  Businesses have access to a toolkit which includes practical advice and marketing materials so that they can actively support the campaign and increase the number of people choosing the Lake District and Cumbria as #theperfectplacetowork.

Commenting on the campaign, Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director Gill Haigh says, "The beauty of this sector is just how much diversity we have to offer, whether that’s what you do, where you do it and how you do it. Full time, part time, working front of house or behind the scenes, there are so many incredible career opportunities right here in this stunning county for people of all ages and backgrounds."

For more information on the campaign, check out Cumbria Tourism’s official press release.

Two of our clients in the US are also doing their bit for the hospitality industry:

Help is on the Way - Hamilton County Tourism

Hamilton County, Indiana attracts more than 4 million visitors a year.  The DMO launched a campaign aimed at filling positions using data to reach prospective employees via social media and mail.  Their target market was young people and workers who left the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic but interest is being generated as well from older adults who are perhaps looking for part-time employment.

Tourism in the county is coming back quicker than anticipated and during weekends, hotels are 80% to 90% full, but, without help during the week, rooms can’t be occupied.

President, Brenda Myers comments: "Hotels are literally having to hold rooms and, so, they can’t sell those rooms on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday because it takes that long to reset those rooms for late-week and weekend consumers.  For us, that’s not good because we want those rooms to be sold."

The DMO is also looking at new ways to work with fewer people too.  This is an effort that board member and owner of Cone & Crumble, Toby Miles, is helping with.

"Say you only have half the staff. How do you structure your menu so you don’t have to close your doors on like a Monday or Tuesday if you’re open seven days a week, which a lot of people are doing but that doesn’t have to be the case?" Miles said.

Hamilton County Tourism will host a series of innovation labs open to any business in the county.

All Hands on Deck for Hospitality Hiring - Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau

Although summer travel demand is looking strong in the US, with three quarters of American travellers planning leisure trips, this does create a major challenge to find enough workers to staff hotels, restaurants, national parks and tourist attractions.  

Simpleview client, Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau has experienced the impact of the pandemic, particularly in the early months, much like the rest of the world.  Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Brian Bossuyt comments: 

"The pandemic greatly affected the Pocono Mountains in the early months, much like the rest of the country and world. The three-month shutdown was very difficult with layoffs and uncertainty about the future,” said Bossuyt. “Later, wading through reopening guidelines and restrictions was tough for our businesses as they sought to ramp up staff and operations."

Thankfully, the region is blessed with 150 lakes and natural scenic beauty. In addition, the abundance of outdoor adventure activities gave tourists a way to enjoy the area safely last summer and fall on their bicycles, hiking trails and the water. Unfortunately, the region wasn’t at full strength or capacity, but it managed to salvage some successes.

Bossuyt said the long-term effects of operating at lower capacity due to the pandemic and resulting restrictions placed a strain on employment. While community relief efforts and extended unemployment helped community members who were economically impacted by the pandemic, he said some businesses currently have to limit capacity, shorten hours, and sometimes close for a day due to staffing shortages.

To best serve their stakeholders and help get tourism dollars flowing, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) have helped their destinations address today’s needs and tomorrow’s challenges. 

The Simpleview team asked Bossuyt to answer a few questions about what the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau is doing to help.  Check out the full interview on www.simpleviewinc.com.

If you have a campaign in mind and would like to discuss it with us, please contact your Account Manager (for existing clients) or for new clients, get in touch on saleseurope@simpleviewinc.com.
 

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