Working together key for hospitality sector

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By David Cochrane, Chief Executive at Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland

DESPITE facing a time of increasing uncertainty in the UK and globally, the hospitality industry is heading towards a bright future.

As Brexit has thrown all sense of certainty out of the window, fears within the industry have centred around the issues of European migrant workers, increased import tariffs and supply chain challenges. All of these issues could see margins squeezed across the sector as a result of increasing business rates and other regulatory costs.

In spite of these challenges, however, a survey conducted by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) showed that, at the end of 2018, 59 per cent of Scottish hospitality outlets were either growing or stable. With this figure projected to rise to 66 per cent by the end of this year, we truly believe that collaboration within the industry holds the key to this growth and is fundamental to ensuring our high standards are not only maintained but exceeded.

The Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland certainly knows the value of collaboration within the hospitality sector; indeed, it was built upon it.

Supporting tens of thousands of young people since its establishment in 1994, our work would simply not be possible without extensive support from across the hospitality industry. Support comes from the businesses and individuals who donate much-needed money and resources – through attending our events, individual grants and corporate sponsorship.

The hospitality industry has a unique spirit, in that everyone is so keen to “give back” to those who aspire to work and study within it. It is this community spirit that led to the formation of the Andrew Fairlie Scholarship – an opportunity that will build on Andrew’s legacy within the industry and be awarded annually to two chefs who are forging their culinary careers in Scotland. The scholarship truly represent collaboration across the industry, being supported jointly by HIT Scotland, the Scottish Government and the Gleneagles Hotel.

Scholarships such as these enable us to supply a new lifeblood into the hospitality industry, paving the way for future generations who will continue to improve and develop upon what we have already built.

It’s not just supply chains and training requirements that mean the hospitality industry should work together – mental health has long been a challenge in our industry too. You only have to look at initiatives such as the recently launched Hospitality Health, which is working to address the mental health issues and stigmas found across the hospitality sector in Scotland, to see examples of great industry collaborations.

The Women In Tourism (WIT) collaboration, which is four years old this month, was created by a group of industry leaders to motivate, inspire and support women across the sector, in Scotland and beyond. They advocate for greater gender balance across leadership roles in hospitality, with board members ranging from directors and marketers to app builders and strategists. Their Young Women in Tourism Awards are a great example of the power of working towards the same collective vision.

When the industry comes together to support one another, amazing things can be achieved – we just need to ensure that more people are encouraged to get involved in this amazing sector to maintain and exceed the high standards we have already set.

Overall, things are looking positive for the hospitality industry, despite the challenges and obstacles it is facing. As long as industry professionals continue to collaborate and invest in their current and future workforce, we can make certain of a solid future – working together is how we will safeguard the industry for tomorrow’s workforce and leaders.

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