Five things hoteliers learnt at the St Julian Scholars Spring Meeting

The St Julian Scholars tackled the recruitment crisis in hospitality and paid tribute to connecting their supportive community in their 2022 Spring Meeting.

The meeting’s core focus of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity was covered in five sessions of speakers and here are some of the key takeaways from the event:

1) Championing employment

The first speaker of the event was John Guthrie, Employment Policy Advisor of UKHospitality, with a session entitled The workforce: A continuing challenge? 

Guthrie indicated the importance of championing vocational education, as the bias is in favour of universities and higher education. Giving guidance to retain staff, Guthrie suggests setting out more opportunities for employees to then progress and earn more within the hospitality career sector.  

With immigration campaigns, Guthrie discussed the reciprocal youth mobility scheme, an arrangement for 18–30-year-olds to work in each other’s countries, pushing to reduce the immigration charge for sponsor licences. Already covering ten countries, UKHospitality has plans to extend the scheme to the EU states, USA and Brazil.  

Guthrie advised hoteliers to promote the sector in a modern and progressive way with image as a big determiner for recruitment due to hospitality holding the highest rate of staff wanting to leave the sector (42%).  

“Fortune will favour the brave, the business that can design and operate consistently will profit.” 

2) A short and shallow recession

The industry must be prepared in many areas to operate effectively in a post-Covid world. This was one of the key messages coming through throughout the day.  

Professor Joe Nellis, professor of global economy at Cranfield University, focused on Economic Updates in the Industry 

Hoteliers were given economic updates discussing the change of global spheres of influence and their impact on the UK economy, mentioning labour shortages, the government budget, inflation, and the emphasis of need in investment as a vehicle for positive change, based on recent statistics. 

Nellis revealed interest rates are on the rise with four increases in the last five months taking the rate to 1%. With the UK economy worsening in the last few months, Nellis shared his concern for a short but shallow recession, slow down in economy and a rise in general banks signalling the end to low interest rates.  

With the UK economy bleaker than expected, Nellis suggests this situation has led to higher wages across most sectors in the economy due to pricing going up which leads to higher wage demands.  

Nellis also expects to see danger for the property market, most pronounced in the next three to four years when borrowers start to refinance with an average house price of £277k.  

3) Understanding your individual behaviours

A key theme throughout the Spring Meeting was the idea to look within the business with aims to challenge brand representation and question individual behaviours.  

The interactive session from Philippa Thurgur, Talent Development Programme Director of Cranfield University entitled Developing Your Resilience Using Transactional Analysis Drivers, incorporated a way of learning how individuals and teams can raise awareness of their unintentional behaviours, known as ‘drivers’ and turn them into positives rather than negatives.  

The Transactional Analysis Drivers model presents characteristic styles that reflect different working types, including how we organise our work and time, how we interact and communicate with each other, our contribution to the team and our style of management and leadership.  

Notably, the most popular characteristic style of the day’s attendees was to ‘be perfect’, whilst the least popular was ‘try hard’, identifying inadvertent results.  

“Transactional Drivers allow us to rewrite the script that we’re feeding ourselves,” Philippa added. 

4) Revitalising your hotel’s marketing and brand

“The industry must be identifying key trends and actions for marketing,” says David Gardner, Managing Director of 80 Days as he discussed the importance of key trends and actions for 2022. 

Most brands are repositioning themselves after Covid and need to be mindful of dynamic markets. Gardner suggests keeping a brand consistent, from relationships with guests, communicating with guests and being direct with what the brand it trying to achieve through relationships. 

Gardner revealed 69% of travellers spend more time researching trips, therefore advised brands to prioritise agility and always plan for what is going to happen. Additionally, he guided hoteliers to include mobile friendly booking services, as 31% of all hotel bookings are via mobile, rising 8% since Covid.

A brand’s most valuable asset is data. Gardner expressed concerns with Google stopping their tracked data feature on July 1 2023, and to expect a major shift to first-party data, which allows brands to understand their target audience and where they are positioned in the market.  

The last key theme Gardner discussed was sustainability, unveiling that 7/10 travellers feel overwhelmed by being a sustainable traveller. He also raised concern about businesses greenwashing, encouraging businesses to “see sustainability as an opportunity for your hotel rather than a problem. Sustainability is an investment.”   

5) Sell the sizzle

Marketing and PR experts Petra Clayton, CEO and founder of CUSTARD, and Maria Hamilton Account Director at CUSTARD, discussed the impact storytelling holds through hiring new recruits and why storytelling is pivotal to attracting talent and reinforcing behaviours internally.   

With the industry combating trepidation in recruitment, Clayton and Hamilton explored new approaches to why hoteliers’ PR and Marketing should be weaving through recruitment and retention strategies.   

The advice given included finding not just a business’s purpose, but as a leader, Clayton clarified that 52% of purpose-driven companies experienced over 10% growth.  

Before starting business strategies Clayton expresses importance to “look beyond the industry, you can’t innovate if you look in.”  

Tackling language within recruitment, Hamilton uncovered that it has been proven in research studies to increase the volume of qualified applicants to use language such as you, your, yours, and to reduce reliance on typical terminology to make sure your message is heard.  

Clayton and Hamilton also demonstrated the power of language, showcasing how transparency within a business gains trust from their audience.   

Petra Clayton added: “Sell the sizzle – show the benefits not just the job description.”