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Keeping hospitality afloat – the back-office functions we can’t survive without

Whilst the majority of hospitality people were on furlough, a core of vital services have kept running to help ensure businesses and venues stay viable.

Throughout lockdown the hospitality people responsible for keeping our venues secure, making sure payroll was met, managing revenue streams and the technology keeping everyone in the loop, have been working hard behind the scenes.

As businesses transition back into trading mode, Caterer.com caught up with Jane Pendlebury, Chief Executive Officer of HOSPA, the Hospitality Professionals Association, to discuss why her members are crucial to successful hospitality businesses.

HOSPA is a forum for finance, revenue, IT, marketing and asset managers to network and manage their careers.

Maintaining cash flow and keeping people in jobs

Jane was clear on the impact Covid19 as had on the hospitality sector. “I think the past few months have been hard for everybody in the industry. Businesses that were struggling before COVID19 are continuing to struggle. There are so many variables, for example, location. Coastal businesses are doing a lot better than city centres. Venue size has had a major impact with smaller venues struggling to cope with new regulations. Not all businesses have reopened, with some planning to reopen in the autumn or possibly into 2021. Finance people have been working to manage cash flow that has helped businesses to keep staff on and also generate revenue wherever they can.”

Optimistic for the future

Hospitality has always been a place of optimism. We asked Jane how her members felt about future trading. “As more and more businesses reopen, for example, attractions, museums, theatres, spas, there will be more reasons for people to travel and book hotels and restaurants. Hospitality businesses that have made it this far, and have a loyal customer base, are well placed to reap the benefits of that recovery.”

Mitigating for unseen costs

With costs under the spotlight, even the smallest spend has to be justified. Without cash businesses will struggle to open or keep their people in jobs. Jane continued, “Managing cash flow is crucial to success and those businesses that do survive will come out stronger. Hospitality businesses have got to mitigate for all the cost factors that might put obstacles in their way.”

“Looking forward and keeping staff motivated and loyal to your brand is key, as it has been a really hard time for people in the industry. So many have been able to take the furlough option, which has been a lifesaver. Bringing those people back into the workplace will be tricky as, once the furlough scheme ends, we have to anticipate redundancies. Furlough has helped with cash flow and until guests return in the same pre-COVID-19 numbers, businesses are facing increasing overheads with reduced revenue.”

Building confidence and resilience

We asked Jane what HOSPA members have done to rebuild confidence and resilience within their teams. “Loyal teams are a reflection of their employer brand culture. Communication has been key, with many hospitality businesses doing amazing things through Zoom calls and Facebook groups to maintain staff morale while they were off work.” Jane commented, “Managers have been spreading the word through their teams and encouraging them to actively think about how things could be done differently or more effectively. Keeping that team spirit is the key to success. And that will be rewarded, as people come back to work because they want to be there, they understand the business and what it needs to thrive.”

Stay motivated, stay on track

As the sector moves forward, Jane emphasised how important keeping an eye on costs will be. “Finance and Revenue managers must watch costs, without making any rash decisions that are going to have long term negative effects on staffing. Your people will help generate revenue. Even if there doesn’t seem to be much demand at the moment, any demand that there is needs to be grasped with both hands.”

The hospitality sector has to keep the faith, keep the confidence and keep delivering to the best of our ability. Consumers want different things from different parts of the sector and right now those needs are being addressed, and addressed professionally.

Jane summarised, “I truly believe that demand for hospitality will come back. And I don’t know whether this is wishful thinking on my part, but I do feel that there is a greater understanding of the hospitality sector now from the general public. The public are not taking it for granted so much that they can just grab a coffee or can’t be bothered to cook so go out for dinner. To many consumers it’s a real relief to have access to hotels, restaurants, pubs, any hospitality environment, and long may that continue”

To explore the benefits of HOSPA membership visit www.hospa.org

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