Six Big Challenges to the Hospitality Industry

Excelling in the hospitality industry is no easy picnic. As any successful restaurateur knows, it takes hard work, ingenuity and a whole lot of passion to deliver a stellar service and establish a first-rate reputation.

Customer satisfaction, keeping ahead of the times, the dominance of social media and online reviews, the skills shortage – numerous challenges need to be overcome in order to survive and thrive.

So, what do our exhibitors think are the biggest challenges to the industry today and how are they helping businesses meet them head-on?

Kitchens Keeping up with the Times

“In the next 5 years, all the food companies will have digitalised their kitchen. The ones who don’t, will fall behind,” says Carl Jacobs, CEO and co-founder of APICBASE. “What we see is that the kitchen lags behind in the use of digital tools.”

Jacobs and his team are working to make life easier for chefs and kitchen staff, helping them to free up more time for developing new food items.

“There is some digitisation in the kitchen in point of sales and purchase to pay, but we see a shortage in information management at the core of the creative side.”

To meet this challenge and to streamline kitchens to enable them to keep up, APICBASE have developed a table-top food photography studio and software to enable chefs and staff to centralise and standardise ingredients, allergens, recipes and menus.

“As businesses grow it can be difficult to deliver their food creativity to a consistently high standard across multiple sites. Our studio and software can help them to deliver consistent excellence of the menu item.”

Skills Shortage

There is a resounding call across the industry to address the skills and staff shortages. Many blame Brexit, but what can be done about it?

Nigel Crane, Managing Director of Essential Cuisine says, “Tackling the skills shortage is undoubtedly the biggest challenge the industry faces at the moment. It has never been more critical for us, as chefs, to engage both with aspiring young chefs and those at a grass-roots level in order to promote the importance of food and the rewards of working in hospitality to ensure a steady stream of talent for the industry in the years to come.”

This hot topic will be addressed at The Restaurant Show on Tuesday 3rd October. The session ‘Talking Talent’ will debate attracting and retaining top talent, training, skills and apprenticeships, the skills shortage and what the Apprenticeship Levy might mean for your business.

The ‘Talking Talent’ panel debate with Jill Whitaker from HIT Training is on Tuesday 3rd October 13:15pm - 13:50pm on The Stage.

Rent and Business Rates

Niall McCann, Licensing and Gaming Partner at leading London law firm, Joelson laments the property problem. He says, “The hospitality industry, and restaurants in particular, are facing a number of pressures, but the most significant seems to be increases in rent and the ever-growing business rate burden.”

“Commercial rents across London and a number of major cities, such as Birmingham and Manchester, have continued to climb quickly in recent years.”

“As an indication of this, a recent report in the Evening Standard* found that over a third of new commercial lets in the Capital remained unlet after six months, partly as a response to expensive rents.”

“Add on top of this the Government’s increase to business rates last year, which saw some businesses bills rise by up to 3,000% and it is not surprising that many restaurants and franchises are choosing to downsize, relocate or leave the marketplace altogether in response to these increased costs.”  

Chancellor Philip Hammond promised that smaller businesses hit hardest by the changes wouldn’t face a hike in their bills larger than £50 a month.

£25m was set aside this year to pay for the support. A £300m discretionary hardship fund and a separate relief scheme for pubs were announced at the same time. But these measures have been beset by delays and met with criticism. As the scheme is finally starting to be rolled out, will the hospitality industry see a change for the better?  


Customer Loyalty

Flexibility and the readiness to embrace change are a common theme in the industry. Just one example of this is how Bleep UK have moved with the times in order to help their clients do the same.

“The biggest challenges are attracting new customers and also customer retention,” they say. “These challenges have caused us to change quite significantly in recent times, launching new products and services in order to continue to change with this dynamic environment.”

“Our partnership with Como, which has seen the development of our loyalty application designed specifically for the hospitality industry, is just one example of this. Ensuring we change and develop keeps us ahead of the crowd and also ensures that we can continue to add value to our clients’ operations.”

Finding Efficient, Reliable and Environmentally-Friendly Equipment

Justin Cadbury, CEO & Chairman of Active Food Systems Ltd - Synergy Grill identifies a whole host of challenges: “Rising labour, fuel and environmental costs. On top of this, diners are seeking better food quality, faster.”

“Synergy Grill deliver on every one of these key challenges. Benefits include reducing gas bills by 40-60%, delivering better quality food at a faster speed, with added unique benefits such as no fat tray to clean.”  

Meanwhile, Buzz Catering Supplies say, “with the rise of internet shopping, we’ve seen a growth of catering equipment suppliers purporting to be mainstream dealers when their web presence is just a ‘virtual storefront’ for a small international import business. We are seeing an increased volume of businesses who have been enticed by these attractive offers but are unable to find a resolution when issues arise. Most worryingly, this is often because they have inadvertently accepted strong terms surrounding guarantees or face issues with poor after sales service and access to spare parts.”

The Rise in Tourism

A more positive challenge facing the hospitality industry is that more customers are landing on Britain’s doorstep each day.

Rob Blunderfield, marketing manager at Parsley in Time says, “With the devaluation of the pound sterling, tourism has become even bigger business in the UK, which has meant hospitality businesses have had to really step up a gear to cater for the needs of tourists.”

And with domestic consumers eating out just as much as they were last year, despite the pinch on their pockets, the industry has a lot to be thankful for and a good challenge to rise to.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your business and how do you overcome it? Have you found a solution? Come and meet our exhibitors to talk your challenges through further. They can be found in the following locations:

Stand UJ21

Essential Cuisine
Stand GC10

Stand UC31

Synergy Grill
Stand GJ41

Buzz Catering Supplies
Stand GH01

Bleep UK
Stand GJ31

Parsley in Time
Stand GC10