I’m back on the road. Over the last couple of months, the switch has been flicked and bookings are flooding in for keynotes and training.
And with that comes travel and hotels.
It’s no secret that the hospitality industry is having a staffing crisis.
I talked to a restaurant manager last week who was overseeing a disastrous breakfast service.
There was only her and one other member of staff to look after the whole dining room.
At the end of service, I thanked her for doing her best under very difficult conditions.
She explained the reasons why there was no hot food (other than tomatoes and scrambled eggs), how they had no bread or brown sauce and ran out of coffee.
The only chefs they could get were agency and they changed daily.
The waiting staff were also housekeeping.
But the worst thing?
‘My customers are angry.’
She finished by sharing that this was her last day. She couldn’t stand the pressure any longer.
Yes, there’s a crisis in hospitality…
…but please don’t take it out on the front-line staff.
The reason why you’re waiting longer is possibly that smaller teams are trying to do more.
The reason you’re not getting as many smiles could be because staff are feeling stressed.
The reason some things need a little maintenance could be the three-month waiting list to get a decent tradesperson.
I’m not a fan of excuses, but I understand the reasons.
During these difficult times in hospitality, there is something we can all do to help.
I’d love to know your experience and thoughts.
Hi Michael, I’m totally with you on being kind – also add a smile! My sister is a nurse. She has just texted mentioning how under-staffed they are in hospital – with the comment – no wonder people are leaving…. Little gestures make a big difference 🙂
Thank you for your post..I am travelling down to Somerset for a few days at the beginning of June. So appreciate you sharing today to bring awareness to this sad situation
In olden times (1969 to 73) my parents, i and my brother ate out twice in 4 years; The New Inn at Iveston and the Punch Bowl at Satley. It made a big impression as I am now 60. Now everyone eats out a lot, and for the last few decades it has been cheap to do so. We currently have a labour shortage and the lovely underpaid hard working hospitality and agricultural workforce have voted with their feet. I certainly would do the same. The nation needs to have some honest conversations about how we pay, treat and incentivise this very important part of Team UK.
As I restart travelling for business what I am seeing is that choice has reduced significantly in hospitality after the pandemic period. For example when travelling recently to a hotel I have stayed at many times before in Brussels the food available on room service was massively diminished with even the usual basics not available and it was difficult to find something I wanted out of the very limited choice – and this is a top quality hotel. The reboot of many hospitality situations seems to be a very much reduced offer compared to what we have been used to.
Well said Michael. I used to understand frustration in front-line work, but never rudeness or an attempt to humiliate customer service staff. I was recently embarrassed and appalled by a couple of friends who berated a brilliant waitress who was doing her best and afforded them more courtesy than either of them deserved. I told them so and pointed out that as neither of them had EVER had customer facing jobs, or worked in hospitality their attack was built on ignorance and they had no excuse or reason to do it. They left a large tip which will never compensate for the nasty taste they left.
Interesting post Michael and reflects my husband’s experience of the hospitality sector. He is a chartered surveyor specialising in hospitality and Leisure premises and a number of his clients are stressing over the staff shortages. Many of them hired people from Europe, a lot of whom have returned to Europe as they did not feel welcome here. I know the prevailing opinion is that it was cheap Labour but in reality it was because they understood the importance of making a meal out an occasion. In Europe working in a restaurant or hotel is seen as a career, whole families run restaurants, but in the U.K. we don’t seem to value hospitality staff. Having said that the idea of staff having to make up their wages through tips is outrageous. Maybe the restauranteurs need to start paying decent wages and make the hospitality sector a more attractive career option. Of course it costs nothing to be polite but I also feel, managers and owners of premises should cut their cloth and be honest about what they can and cannot provide. If I am told upfront that there will be a wait of 20 minutes or more I can make my decision to stay or not, if cooking a breakfast is a problem then let people know that you can only serve a continental breakfast. I do feel the better informed people are the better behaved (mostly) people will be. I have just come back from the hairdressers, she is desperate to hire another member of staff as she has loads of customers but no one has applied. Practically every shop (including Tesco) and cafe is advertising for staff. This is practically unheard of in our little seaside town. I was told the prevailing reasons are people cannot afford to commute, due to high cost of fuel and no accommodation locally. As soon as anything comes on the market either for rent or to buy it is snapped up.
Of course none of this excuses rude behaviour but I do believe better communication is vital.
Well Put – Also on top of all these valid reasons you never know what is happening in their personal lives – so be kind, never judge and make a mental note to do one extra kind thing every week .
Hi Michael. As you know I have a little bit of experience in the Hospitality industry and the last two years have perhaps been the most challenging I have experienced. I can certainly resonate with a number of comments and your newsletter. Not unlike a lot of industries recruitment is challenging, cost inflation for smaller businesses is almost impossible to handle, and supply chains are suffering. But that said, the Hospitality industry is resilient, it will bounce back and we will always do it with a smile on our faces and do the best we can for all our guests. I just hope we don’t lose too many businesses along the way.
I work In a semi hospitality venue I manage a community centre keeping people happy is hard and sometimes people are so rude I always tip and thank the staff and if complain do it to manager or on trip advisor it isn’t the staffs fault 🤔
Michael it just highlights how entitled many people feel. Entitled to have just what they want without any consideration for current circumstances or other people’s situations. A little kindness goes such a long way to make things bearable. We need much more kindness. Instead of being labelled a soft skill, it is really a transformational skill which can miraculously change someone’s day and make them smile
As a retired hotelier I have always thought that when young people leave school experiencing a year in hospitality ( instead of national service) would help everyone to understand the pressure put on staff in hospitality and make them more understanding, patient and kinder to the staff. I was a hotelier for 42 years and I know how rude people can be.
100% agree Be Kind I always make a point to say a BIG Thank-you to any front line people NHS etc… it really seems to make a difference as so many don’t Little things are Big things, Major reason for so much of the S*** we are in in BREXIT! and the main Liars are still in charge 🙁
Be Brilliant as ever Michael 🙂
Maybe I’m biased since I’m Cornish but my recent visit was thoroughly enjoyable. If you read my post you will see that it’s all about people’s attitude even when things are going badly, so it can be done! https://www.linkedin.com/posts/mikebrewermalta_wellbeing-values-personaldevelopment-activity-6934568386978799616-URyL?utm_source=linkedin_share&utm_medium=member_desktop_web
Being kind doesn’t cost us anything but it does give so much to those receiving it!
It can make the difference to the whole day for someone.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t express yourself it just means you are doing it in a civil manner. I remember at the beginning of the pandemic when EVERYONE was exceptionally nice to each other.
Michael, I completely agree. It costs nothing to smile, it costs nothing to just be that but more patient and it costs nothing to be more understanding. During lockdown I read on my GP’s Facebook page a message saying “They would not tolerate abuse directed towards their staff” I was shocked, as they’ve always been great to me. So I decided that night to send them a Tower Hamper, 5 boxes filled with various treats and to say what a wonderful job they were doing during such a hard time. A few days later I got a call from the Practice Manager saying thank you and that my gesture was the tipping point that managed to stop a valued member of staff leaving because of the abuse she’d received. I was gobsmacked. It just goes to show that you never know what someone is going through so be nice. You don’t always know what your small gesture of kindness could do for someone having a tough time.
Looking at the answers is interesting. The immediate problem with both trades and hospitality is Brexit as it is with agriculture. The long-term problem is our economic structure. It is a long time since we recognised that the country’s interests and the interests of business do not necessarily coincide. Particularly we still adhere to trickle-down economics which is well past its sell by date. If we want to solve these problems we need to train and pay decent wages and not rely on short-term fixes of cheap imported labour. In the meantime be kind to hospitality staff and hit the people who are really responsible for the mess: our politicians.