Gotham Rises – Hotel Gotham win our People Award for their Launch Campaign

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” is a quote attributed to the late management consultant, Peter Drucker. Whether he actually said this or not is still up for debate, but it is a maxim by which many in hospitality management work.

However, consider this: What if it were only half true? What if, in launching a new enterprise, you were to create a culture from scratch? This is exactly what Bespoke Hotels did in the creation of Hotel Gotham, winning them the Launch Campaign award at the 2016 People Awards. From the very beginning, this was an ambitious and expansive project.

“The idea came from the 1920s/30s design of the building,” explained Charlotte Summers, Head of People and Development at Hotel Gotham. “With this previously being a bank, this fed the minds of our team to create characters with stories behind them which we feature on our website.”

Bespoke Hotels opened Hotel Gotham on King Street, Manchester in April 2015 and in doing so, fashioned a unique world, a world in which Preston Sturges meets Bruce Wayne, a world in which guests could immerse themselves completely. However, their creation also served another purpose. In order to bring this idea to luxurious life, Bespoke Hotels required not only the skills, but the mind-set of the finest hospitality staff in the Greater Manchester area. They set about creating a series of online videos that teased the upcoming hotel, they hinted at flavour and mood and featured fictional, stock characters who set the scene of what was to come. The thinking behind this was thorough; Bespoke Hotels needed staff who knew the local area and who understood and bought into the world that was being built. Equally, they needed candidates who could be discreet and play their role in ensuring that when the hotel finally opened its doors, it was as dramatic an event as possible. It was essential that they recruited in line with their brand personality, attracting a team who boasted quality local experience, alongside the flair and passion needed to bring Hotel Gotham’s unique character to life. The teaser videos were a huge success in paving the way for the first recruitment advertisements. Within 24 hours, Bespoke Hotels received 836 applications.

Charlotte Summers said, “The hiring criteria was all about personality, confidence, cheekiness with hospitality experience. The interview was about auditioning and testing the team on these areas within our behavioural framework. This was broken down into four specific areas – ‘Dazzle’ at first sight, this being all about the first impression – ‘Capture’ your audience and cast warmly, this being all about relationships – ‘One Cast’ mentality, focusing on teamwork and ‘Curtain call’ always striving to achieve an encore, which is all about the guest, their uniqueness and anticipating their needs before they need them.”

Hotel Gotham’s on-boarding too fed into the theatrical scope of the whole enterprise, with ‘cast members’ being given a Gotham “script”. It was a fun way for the hotel to be able to present their rigorous service requirements and standards in an engaging, original and entertaining manner, without the process becoming draconian or excessively dry.

All key team members recruited during this time are still in place, including Hotel Gotham’s Sales Manager, Head Chef, Front of House Manager, Head Housekeeper, Maintenance Manager, F&B Manager, and Reservations Manager. Charlotte feels that such a high level of personnel retention is testament not only to the passion and dedication the team has for their business vision, but also the precision of the recruitment process itself, which ensured candidates were able to demonstrate their commitment to the Gotham brand.

Bespoke Hotels are overjoyed at their win at the 2016 People Awards. Charlotte Summers said, “It means everything to be recognised for our achievements in this fairly small boutique hotel. We thought it was special, however finding out that our peers feel the same as we do means the world.”

We congratulate Bespoke Hotels on their well deserved win in the Launch Campaign category at the 2016 People Awards and wish them and Hotel Gotham continued success.

The power of post interview feedback: why even unsuccessful candidates can be your brand ambassadors

Interviews are a two-way street. A vital part of getting to know candidates better, they also help shape a candidate’s opinion of a company and its culture. In a brand-conscious job market, interviews are now a dual exercise that can affect the employer brand – and it’s up to employers to ensure that effect is positive.

The importance of a positive job-seeker experience

To secure top talent, an organisation has to make a good impression both pre and post interview. Every candidate will walk away from a job application process with some impression of the company, and they’ll share this experience with others. It means that every encounter with a candidate represents an opportunity to build a positive brand, and perhaps create a new brand ambassador in the process.

Word gets around…

In a world of shared experiences and instant word-of-mouth, people aren’t only sharing their experiences as consumers, but as employees and potential employees, too. There’s a growing online window into what it’s really like to work for Company X or Hospitality Brand Y. Candidates are free to share honest opinions and reviews, which means the onus is on employers to ensure that the interview process is as carefully managed as its marketing campaigns.

Why is it important to provide post-interview feedback?

Besides the fact that it’s just plain polite, there are several reasons why getting back to every candidate after an interview is vital:

Building your brand: Candidate feedback provides an opportunity to gain, or lose, a brand champion for the future. If a company is together enough to proactively update its candidates and follow up with feedback, it indicates a culture that’s pretty desirable, and a company that most candidates will want to keep on their radar.

Candidates love communication: Job-seekers still cite an employer failing to get back to them as one of the biggest bugbears of applying for work. Would you rather be one of the countless companies that choose to ignore unsuccessful candidates, or one of the few that choose to make a positive impact? We know which candidates prefer.

Word of mouth still holds sway: Research reveals that personal recommendations are still the most credible form of advertising. When people talk about interactions with your company, be they positive or negative, their friends, relatives and social networks will listen.

Positive for the industry as a whole: As the hospitality industry continues to struggle with skills shortages, it’s important to also consider the bigger picture. Self-doubt is never helpful when candidates have to present themselves confidently at their next interview. Providing valuable, constructive feedback on their strengths and weaknesses can give them confidence going forward, helping them improve the skills they need to perform at the highest level within the industry. 

How can you use the process of post-interview feedback to create brand ambassadors for you?

Get in touch: Always let candidates know you’ve received their application. Make use of tools and applicant tracking software that allow you to send personalised automated emails to ease the process.

Feedback: When a candidate has spent real time and effort applying, researching your company and attending interviews, it’s just not acceptable for their efforts to be ignored. Feedback should be timely, telling them something useful and including relevant examples from the interview.

Stay in touch: Keep them updated with current or future vacancies. They’ll appreciate being kept on file and hearing from you if anything suitable comes up.

Successfully follow these tips and you should start to notice a positive change to your company perception from candidates that come for interview. The calibre of applicant is likely to improve – and even if they’re unsuccessful, you’ll be making a brand ambassador to pass on the torch.

Red Carnation launches new apprenticeship programme

Red Carnation Hotels have partnered with Umbrella Training to launch a new apprenticeship programme across its London hotels; ahead of the new apprenticeship levy and standards being launched on 06th April 2017.

Since launch, a total 17 colleagues from across Red Carnation have enrolled onto an apprenticeship through Umbrella and have begun their training to complete the apprenticeship and gain new qualifications and skills which enhance their career opportunities.

As part of this new partnership, Umbrella Training will be carrying out a mapping exercise to transfer all training materials, programmes and standard operating procedures into the new Apprenticeship Standards; enabling Red Carnation Hotels to obtain the best return on investment for the levy payment.

Sam Coulstock, Business Relations Director at Umbrella Training said “It’s great to work with such a forward-thinking business like Red Carnation Hotels who have gained a great understanding of the reforms, embraced the changes, upskilling their workforce and are building a talent pipeline for the future.”

Claire Golden – HR Director at Red Carnation Hotels said “It’s been great to partner with Umbrella from the beginning. They have really helped us understand the levy and the new standards; particularly with their brilliant mapping exercise which makes sure we are aligned with the new standards. We are delighted that it has been a success and we are looking forward to a continued relationship with them.”

Find out more here.

Annual Awards Celebrate Outstanding Achievers

Springboard’s Awards for Excellence took place at Novotel London West on Thursday 24th November 2016 and as always were proud sponsors of the Best Recruitment Initiative category.

Over 550 people attended the award evening, where inspiring people, organisations and initiatives from across hospitality, leisure and tourism were celebrated through Springboard’s annual Awards for Excellence, now in their 14th year.

QHotels took home three awards for their efforts over the past year: The Education and Industry Partnership Award, Best Recruitment Initiative Award, and Best Use of Digital Media to Attract Talent.

David Noble of James Hallam won Springboard’s coveted Chris Beaumont Special Award for his contributions towards Springboard’s aims. David Noble, director of James Hallam Insurance, has developed a long standing relationship with Springboard. Over eight years, as both a patron and a board member, he has actively engaged and supported Springboard. He first trekked on Springboard’s Trek and Community Challenge in China, and since then he has embarked on two more! Earlier this year, David donned the lycra and joined Springboard’s Team Velo Challenge. In the process, he has raised vast sums of funding for the vital work of Springboard, and his actions have supported Springboard time and again.

Best Employer Award went to The Peach Pub Company, who beat the highly commended Stonegate Pub Company. Their vision, values and benefits made them standout as an excellent employer.

Two Springboard beneficiaries shared the Fiona Colley Award, open to anyone who has overcome barriers to employment and completed a Scottish IntoWork programme. Both Kai Palmer and Connor Pomroy completed Springboard’s Let’s Cook programme, and each will now receive a career development scholarship to support their next steps of their career and personal development.

Anne Pierce, Springboard’s CEO, commented: “Once again we enjoyed a wonderful evening in celebration of everything that our industry has to offer. The winners this year have shown themselves to be true champions of our industry, raising hospitality’s profile and attracting talented individuals into vibrant careers.”


Category 1 – Promoting Careers

The Springboard Ambassador’s Award sponsored by Bestway

Gareth Billington (Sodexo)

Gather & Gather

Best Regional Initiative Award sponsored by Conviviality Plc
The Glasgow Marriott

The Education and Industry Partnership Award sponsored by Serviceline

Category 2 – Attracting and Developing People

Best Work Experience Provider Award sponsored by James Hallam
Harrison Catering Services Ltd

Best Use of Digital Media Award to Attract Talent sponsored by drp

Best Recruitment Initiative Award sponsored by

The Young People Award sponsored by American Express
Inspired Youth

Best Chef Development Strategy sponsored by Gram
Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa

The Best Housekeeping Team Initiative Award sponsored by Bonasystems
Tzveta Ivanova – The Milestone Hotel

Best Management Development Strategy
Lexington Catering

Best Food and Beverage Strategy sponsored by Handpicked Hotels
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge

Category 3 – Best Employment Practice

The Best Apprenticeship Strategy sponsored by Lifetime Training
Greene King

Best Career Progression Award sponsored by COREcruitment
St. Austell Brewery

The Retention Award sponsored by CH & Co Group
Byron Hamburgers

The Community Engagement Award sponsored by Diageo
Food Cardiff

Best Employer Award sponsored by Learning Curve Group
The Peach Pub Company Ltd

Chris Beaumont Special Award sponsored by Bidvest Foodservice:
David Noble

Fiona Colley Award:
Kai Palmer and Connor Pomroy

For more information about the winners, and also the highly commended entries please click here.


Learning & Development: integral to recruitment strategy

For leading employers, a strong Learning and Development (L&D) programme is a key part of their recruitment strategy. An engaged and better skilled workforce benefits not only the employer but also the employee, resulting in higher retention rates and a more fluent customer service. A good L&D programme can also provide attraction for top talent searching for the right ‘fit’ with an employer. invited leading thinkers and practitioners in hospitality Learning and Development to the Sky Garden at London’s famed Walkie Talkie building on October 5th to discuss what L&D means to them and their businesses, how to use L&D as part of the recruitment process and how to create an L&D offering that best engages and retains employees.

“Learning & Development needs to be in the DNA of the business,” began Helen Fahy from The Doyle Collection. A notion generally agreed with, but how programmes are implemented and understood by all staff, from management down differs from employer to employer.

“For me, L&D is about the process and ability to support people to have the right skills and behaviours to deliver what the business is trying to deliver,” James Appleton from Mitchells and Butlers offered. “A lot of L&D needs ‘future-proofing’ and that relies on a clear business strategy.” Sridhar Pathigari from The Arts Club agreed, “I look at the different perspectives of the management and the shareholders. I align the training programmes to what they want. That includes future planning.”

However, what benefits employer must also benefit employee. Over the years, candidates have become more savvy regarding their options. Staff know where they want to be and where they see themselves, and as Anne Dewison (Aramark) observes, “There’s no longer a queue of people waiting to come in,” So it’s important to integrate Learning & Development into the hiring process if top talent are to be attracted to a role.

How that training is implemented is an equally important consideration, as Adam Kirkaldy said, “Training and coaching needs to be an everyday transaction between management and supervisors and their staff.”

“Are you waiting for somebody who is ready to step into the role, or are you willing to teach them in the role?” James Appleton asked. “There’s a big divide there. If you promote somebody, do you give them the tools they need to do that job beforehand, with the danger that when they take on the role they get bored? This is when recruitment fuses with L&D.”

Engaging existing staff can also sometimes be a challenge. Within some companies, training is viewed as something that ‘must’ be done, rather than something that staff are willing to do. The Doyle Collection created a programme called ‘The Passport’. Described as ‘a self-directed learning tool’, ‘The Passport’ turned training into a problem-solving game, a treasure hunt, as Helen Fahy describes, “It invoked fun and enthusiasm. There was more engagement. It also branded our L&D offering.” Sridhar Pathigari from The Arts Club talked about the way he piqued the interest his staff. He hand-picked key influencers from different departments and invited them to a training day – he sold the session as being an exclusive invitation. “Be there at 4pm,” he told them, “late comers will not be admitted.” Only six out of ten invitees arrived at the correct time. When the remaining four turned up late, they were asked to leave. This course of action intrigued Sridhar’s staff, making them wonder what this new scheme was all about and making them want to be a part of it. It made the people who did turn up feel special. “They actually went back to the floor and said, ‘You know what? We’re special!” When Sridhar opened up another 20-place training programme, 40 employees signed up within 24 hours.

Praising the good work of employees is a practise all attendees considered paramount. “You need to find people doing things really well, and celebrate it.” Helen Fahy said, “If you see me doing something really well, you’re going to try and emulate that, whether it’s for the gold star or the kudos.” Gurjit Sandhu from Jumeirah noted, “There are great recognition schemes in place to reinforce behaviours that will drive success. But it’s about keeping the schemes at the forefront of managers minds so that they utilise them more.” Helen Fahy added, “Behaviour breeds behaviour. We always do a shout out to people for doing a great job, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. We take that as a win on the L&D side of things. There is always something behind a good job that relates to L&D. Whether is behaviour or a skill, it’s all development.”

It was agreed that further discussion of topics relating to Learning & Development would be beneficial to all parties, and it’s hoped to reconvene at a later date.

The Learning & Development round table discussion was hosted by Neil Pattison, Sales Director of and was attended by Adam Kirkaldy, L&D Manager, Corbin & King, Alice Lilley, HR Officer, GBK, Anne Dewison, L&D Manager, Aramark Northern Europe, Calvern James, Sale Manager,, Daniel Solomon, Recruitment Manager UK, Melia White House, Gurjit Sandhu, Regional Director of Talent, Learning & Development – Europe, Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts, Helen Fahy, Head of Quality & Culture, The Doyle Collection, James Appleton, Head of Retail Recruitment, Mitchell’s and Butler’s, Jessica Sullivan, Product Specialist, Totaljobs Group and Sridhar Pathigari, Learning & Development Manager, The Arts Club. People Awards Winner Profile Rewards & Benefits – Jumeirah Hotels

Ask any employer within the hospitality industry and they’ll all say the same: Recruiting top talent is only half the battle, keeping hold of their skills and expertise is the real trick. Of course, many factors can come into play; salary, location, a strong learning & development package, but like all of us, your people want to feel valued and the perks of the job can be just as important as any other consideration. Jumeirah Hotels not only understand this, they ensure it’s a core element of their offering. So much so that their employee benefits offering won them the Rewards & Benefits category at our People Awards 2016.

Dawn Vermeire, HR Director at Jumeirah said, “We believe that when candidates are looking for a new job, they are actually looking for a new experience. When you join a new company in a new position you instantly enter that new experience. Rewards and benefits play a huge role in this. Having attractive rewards and benefits that cater to your needs is very important for potential candidates and can often be the reason they choose one company over another.”

David Morison, Assistant Director of HR at Jumeirah agreed, “We have more and more competition now in London. A benefits package working alongside other initiatives from Jumeirah allows us to be the employer of choice for potential candidates. They also allow us to drive wellbeing in our organisations which in turn positively impacts our service profit chain.”

Like any great employer, Jumeirah genuinely wants to reward the hard work of their employees, but feels these benefits should be relevant to their work and lifestyle. Jumeirah implemented a programme via an online platform allowing employees to easily access benefits that would be useful to them. These included shopping vouchers in over 100 high street stores, cashback for car insurance, discounted cinema tickets, petrol, restaurants and childcare vouchers. In addition, Jumeirah offer all employees the opportunity to stay at their five star properties worldwide for a fraction of normal cost. A colleague recognition programme has been developed, where employees can nominate colleagues who they feel go the extra mile in providing inspiration to the team. David Morison added, “Our R&B offering also includes a wide range of social activities that help bring people together and really drives our guiding principle of people focus and collaboration.”

In order to develop this kind of offering, employee opinion is vital. “We believe it’s important to speak to our teams to establish want they want and what they value from our packages.” David Morison said, “We take feedback from our colleague consultative committee and run surveys and focus groups to ensure our offerings meet the needs of our teams.” Jumeirah also conduct competitor analysis to ensure that their offerings are at least equal to, or exceed the market.

Jumeirah’s Rewards & Benefits programme has proved extremely popular with employees. David Morison continued, “We work hard to communicate our benefits so there is an understanding of what is available, and how to access them. In our last survey, 75% ‘Strongly Agree’ or ‘Agreed’ to the question “I have a good understanding of my benefits”

On winning the 2016 People Award for Rewards & Benefits, Dawn Vermeire said, “We are so excited to have been recognised for such a prestigious award through as we work extremely hard to ensure our colleagues are engaged with the rewards and benefits available. We are very happy to be able to share this news with potential candidates looking to join Jumeirah.” David Morison concluded, “It’s been very uplifting for our teams to know that the hard work we do in sourcing, sharing, communicating and evaluating our reward and benefits offerings is valued so highly both within and outside of our organisation.”

We congratulate Jumeirah on their win in the Rewards & Benefits category at the 2016 People Awards and wish them every success for the future.

DISHOOM shake the room at People Awards 2016

Increasingly, candidates know exactly where they want to be on their career path and they want the tools to get there. Now more than ever, a great Learning & Development package is essential in not only recruiting top talent, but retaining them too. Many L&D managers agree that training, formal or not, needs to be an on-going process, equipping and enriching your team, bringing out the best in the individual and also your brand.

To rapturous applause, Indian street food-wallahs, Dishoom, walked away with the Learning & Development award at this year’s People Awards.

“Top of the priority list for most successful businesses is the need to attract and retain the most vibrant and exciting talent available,” said Brian Trollip, Operations Director at Dishoom. “That talent is largely going to be the driving force behind the success of any business.  It’s unlikely that this talent is going to join a business which does not look to unlock their full potential by offering them exceptional support, guidance and mentorship.”

Dishoom’s L&D offering includes a rich and diverse two-year training program for each department with industry recognised qualifications, on-going food and drink training, a seven-month management training course, outreach to local charities, state-of-mind workshops, one-on-one mentorship, restaurant art walks, history tours and, for Head Chefs, GMs and long-standing employees, a week-long Bombay boot camp in India.

Brian Trollip explained, “Strong learning and development is a responsibility that all businesses should take seriously and work towards. In order for the values and culture of your business to shine through, it’s imperative that you have a strong, fulfilled team who are fully bought in and who know that they have a level of ownership with regards to future success of the business.”

Dishoom’s keyword is ‘Seva’. As defined by Dishoom, ‘Seva’ is the art of selfless service, of doing the right thing even if nobody is looking, imparting ‘big-hearted love’ and bringing out the very best in yourself and those around you. Dishoom believes that this outlook challenges their teams and constantly redefines what they do and how they do it.

Dishoom is also steeped in its culture. The mise-en-scene of each of its four restaurants is deliberate, nothing is accidental. Many individuals and companies purport to ‘love people’, but with Dishoom, one gets the feeling that there is nothing disingenuous about this claim. Everything within their restaurants is geared toward a shared sense of warmth and the best experience possible. Their Learning & Development programme completely reflects this.

Brian Trolliop commented, “L&D’s entire function is the empowerment of people.  Great L&D focuses on delivering and refining the skills an individual requires in order to get the most out of life, no matter what path their career takes.  It provides the opportunity for businesses to influence the way in which employees will approach all manner of situations and relationships as their careers develop. It’s an absolute force for good.”

As to winning the Learning & Development award, Brian and the team couldn’t be happier, “Honestly, we’re over the moon.  Dishoom has grown very organically over the past six years.  Our senior team is really small and we’ve worked exceptionally hard in order to create an unmistakeable culture around the values that mean so much to us. This award is testament to the effort and commitment of so many team members.”

For the future, Dishoom has exciting plans with a new restaurant opening in Edinburgh in November this year. Beyond that, Dishoom’s charity work is only to be praised. Brian Trollip explains, “We’ve provided well over a million meals to children who might not otherwise have been able to afford a meal throughout the previous few months, both in the UK and in India.  We will continue to provide thousands of meals to these children, every single day, through our meal for a meal charity initiative, which means that every time a guest enjoys a meal at Dishoom, we buy one for a child who may need a little support.”

We congratulate Dishoom whole-heartedly on winning the Learning & Development award at this year’s People Awards.

You’re probably losing applications. Here’s why…

Our clients who use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)  to capture job applications, typically suffer an 80% drop-off in candidates; that’s up to 8 out of 10 candidates they could be missing out on.

So why do so many candidates fail to complete the application process? Because when candidates are transferred to an ATS or the company’s own website, they have to re-enter their details, making the application process repetitive and lengthy. And that’s not the only reason why these candidates don’t see an application through…

Tech specs

Today’s candidates expect a fast, easy application process. Recruitment is now almost 100% digital, with online CVs, digital portfolios and recruitment platforms becoming the norm. The result is we all expect speed and efficiency. If a website is too complicated, slow, clunky or repetitive, do you stick around? Neither will your candidates.

The internet is full of examples of jobseekers complaining about poorly designed online job applications. From too-small text input boxes to automatic session timeouts, if the process isn’t streamlined and practically designed then candidates understandably get frustrated – sometimes enough to raise their voices about it online. And enough to make them give up on a job application too.

Is your site and application process mobile-friendly?

Mobile now represents 65% of digital media time, while the desktop is becoming a ‘secondary touch point’ for an increasing number of digital users. How easy is it for your users to view or apply for vacancies via mobile? If you’re not able to reach your audience through mobile search or display, or you’re not providing a satisfactory mobile experience, you could be missing out compared to competitors who are. Once again, if candidates can’t complete their application on mobile, they won’t bother. Search and apply on mobile devices is seamless on, but if you then send candidates through an ATS or a career site that is not, you will lose applications along the way.

Job descriptions

It’s not just the process, but the content of your job advertising that matters. Featuring high on anyone’s list of ‘Top things I dislike about job-hunting’ is job descriptions. No one wants to read a rambling job description that’s several pages long or so vague they have little to no idea what the job actually entails, and no one wants to spend valuable time trying to decipher the latest buzzwords. A job description should be sufficient and attractive enough to reflect a company’s brand and culture.  We’ll be releasing a report with more detail on this topic later in the year.

Give candidates what they want

If sending applicants to an external application site leads to dramatic losses in applicant numbers, what’s the solution? Streamlining the process.

Our data shows that when our clients’ ATS systems integrate with our new and free to use ATSi Apply integration, they receive up to 100% of applications –- as opposed to just 20% for non-integrated clients.

Integrating your ATS and application process cuts down on length and repetition, creating a smoother, faster user experience for all.

The integration directly transfers candidate details and CVs into your system, delivering a swift job-seeker experience across all devices. It means candidates no longer have to waste time entering and then re-entering details or re-uploading CVs. They enter their info once, and that’s it.

ATSi Apply is a free service, which integrates with your existing ATS system in no time. It’s already streamlined the application process for The Dorchester, Nando’s and Bella Italia, picked up a technical innovation award, and helped recruiters increase applications by up to 400%.

In a skills poor market, nobody wants to put good candidates off. If you’d like to enable the ATSi Apply service and start receiving the applications you should be, speak to your account manager or call 0333 0145 111.

The first four months: what effect has the Brexit vote had on hospitality recruitment?

It’s been four months since Britain voted to leave the European Union and although the full implications of this decision won’t be known until after Article 50 is triggered – with prime minister Theresa May recently confirming that this will happen at the end of March 2017, meaning an exit from the UK isn’t likely until mid-2019 – figures so far suggest it isn’t all doom and gloom, especially for the hospitality industry.

The good news

For one thing, unemployment fell by 39,000 (to 1.63 million) between May and July – which suggests that, as yet, the job market hasn’t become a victim of the dreaded ‘Brexit effect’. In fact, the unemployment rate is lower than it was a year ago (4.9% compared to 5.5%), and the future looks similarly bright in the world of the hospitality industry – one of the largest employers in the UK – largely thanks to a surge in visitors to the UK. Figures released by the ONS showed that July was a record month for tourists, with a whopping 3.8 million visiting Britain – that’s a 2% increase on the same time last year – collectively spending £2.5 billion (an increase of 4% on the previous year).

This influx has no doubt been spurred by the fact that, post-Brexit, the pound has fallen to its lowest level for more than 30 years – meaning inbound tourists’ money being worth a great deal more. The result is that since the end of June, international flight bookings to the UK have increased by 7.1%, while bookings from Europe for trips to the UK have increased by 5%.

Given that the prime minister’s recent clarification of the timeline for Brexit resulted in the pound falling to a three-year low against the euro and its lowest level against the dollar since early July, this trend looks set to continue. Visitors are coming from further afield too. Cheapflight claims that searches for journeys to Britain from America have doubled, with further increases of 61% from China and 49% from Canada. This will no doubt spark a sharp recruitment drive in related industries such as hospitality, as tourists flock to hotels, bars and restaurants to make the most of the strength of their currencies against the pound.

Also noteworthy is the positive impact that the UK’s Brexit decision has had on the domestic hotel market. As well as the growing numbers of visitors, 2.5 million Brits are opting for ‘staycations’, as the falling pound makes holidays abroad more expensive. This has meant a double boost for tourism, and looks set to give the industry a record-breaking year – with one of the hottest ever Septembers and low interest rates contributing to a potential hospitality recruitment boom. The Tourism Alliance estimated that spending by Britons on UK holidays has been up by 17% on 2015 so far this year, with British Hospitality Association (BHA) chairman Nic Varney suggesting at this year’s British Hospitality and Tourism Summit that “tourism and leisure can continue to grow under Brexit.”

Things to be wary of… 

It’s worth remembering that while a potential boom in customers is an exciting prospect for businesses; with research indicating that more than 61,000 foodservice and accommodation employers in the UK will lack key skills by 2020, such a dramatic increase in new jobs is likely to expedite this problem and make filling these hard-to-fill roles even more difficult. Furthermore, according to The Migration Observatory’s ‘Migrants in the UK Labour Market’ report from 2014, foreign-born workers made up 43% of those in ‘Food preparation and hospitality’ and 25% of ‘Managers and proprietors in hospitality’. Fewer new European arrivals in the UK would therefore leave a shortfall in the industry that there simply aren’t enough Britons with the right skills to fill. In an article in the Economist in May 2015 it was suggested that, “Some industries, especially those that struggle to replace human labour with technology, would be left foundering without a ready supply of migrant labour.” 

In short, while Brexit may well bring about new opportunities in the hospitality industry, it’s likely to exaggerate an existing issue and make finding (and retaining) individuals with the right skills more important than ever. Our People Awards recognise employers that are tackling this skills shortage with innovation and initiative. Find out more about this year’s winners. People Awards 2016 Winner Profile – Ambassador to the Industry, The Clink Restaurant Company

“The catering industry is currently experiencing a major skills shortage, so highly qualified chefs and waiting staff are extremely sought after,” says Christopher Moore, Chief Executive of The Clink Restaurant Company. “The Clink Charity helps solve both of these issues that, in their own ways, have an impact on society.

Christopher Moore was speaking as The Clink Restaurant Company became the proud winner of the Ambassador to the Industry award at this year’s People Awards. Presented at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge on October 12, the awards celebrated the finest achievements in hospitality recruitment, retention and development.

The prestigious Ambassador to the Industry award seeks to recognise long term success in championing the spirit of the hospitality sector by an individual or a team, and work that nurtures careers and talent. To say that The Clink embodies this award would be an understatement. The Clink’s work in training prison learners and equipping them with the skills and confidence to build careers upon their release, is vital.

Christopher Moore commented, “It is a great honour for The Clink team to have won this prestigious award in recognition of our work.”

The Clink has had enormous success in reducing reoffending rates through accredited City & Guilds NVQ training in food preparation and food service, thus equipping prisoners and ex-offenders with formalised education and valuable soft skills that help them to gain employment upon their release.

The story of The Clink Restaurant Company began in 2009, when the first restaurant opened at HMP High Down in Surrey. The then catering manager, Alberto Crisci, identified the need to provide formal qualifications and support for prisoners that can be utilised in the outside world. Soon after, The Clink opened Bromley Gardens, enabling prisoners to train in horticulture. The gardens also grew three quarters of the vegetables and herbs used in the restaurant. A second restaurant opened at HMP Cardiff in 2013, with HMP Brixton opening the following year. In addition, Click Events provides external catering for parties and receptions.

Since the opening of HMP High Down, The Clink has trained more than 800 prisoners and currently works with up to 160 learners per day. Whether working in the kitchens or gardens, prisoners are gaining valuable work experience but they are also regularly assessed, enabling them to work towards formal qualifications in Food Preparation, Food Service, Food Hygiene and Horticulture.

“Today’s challenge is that there are more than 84,000 adults in prison in the UK and of those released, 46% return to prison within the first year. Also, 47% of prisoners say they have no qualifications, so supporting them to achieve this and increase their self-worth gives them the tools to break the cycle of crime and build a positive future for them and their families.” says Christopher Moore.

All prisoners who train with The Clink now follow a five step programme – Recruit, Train, Support, Employ, Mentor – a process which helps with training and securing employment. Even after release and gaining work, ex-offenders continue to be mentored by The Clink, ensuring rehabilitation is as painless as possible.

The great news is that thanks to The Clink’s efforts, re-offending rates of those involved with the programmes have reduced dramatically, down from 45% to 12.5% within the first year of release. In addition, more than 200 top employers, including Carluccios, Wahacca, The Lancaster London Hotel and Mosimann, are happy to take on The Clink graduates.

To top all of this, the quality of food and service from Clink restaurants has been lauded, with The Daily Telegraph praising waiting staff at HMP Brixton for striking “the right balance between friendliness and professionalism”, and The Standard referring to a chocolate and pear tart as “glorious”.

The Clink Restaurant Company continues to go from strength to strength. Looking toward the future, Christopher Moore says, “The plan moving forward is to continue to grow The Clink concept with the aim of having 20 prisoner training schemes in operation across the UK by 2020. We will be announcing the next three training projects over the next six months, so there are plenty of exciting things coming up.”

Congratulations to The Clink Restaurant Company on their well deserved win of the Ambassador of the Year award at our People Awards 2016.

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