As we move towards the end of 2019, Peter Ducker FIH, Chief Executive of the Institute of Hospitality, reflects on the past 12 months and looks ahead to 2020.
What was the biggest challenge for the hospitality industry in 2019?
Twofold – Recruiting and retaining talent remains a challenge almost everywhere in the world, it seems in particular that “Gen Z” do not see hospitality as a place to work. Separately we saw a dramatic increase in areas of the cost base that are difficult to contain – property taxes have been rising in many countries where our members operate, food inflation is a massive challenge everywhere and staff costs are exacerbated by the labour shortage.
How well do you think the hospitality industry has responded to this challenge?
As it always does, with creative solutions. Redefining menus and dishes and upskilling staff to improve productivity are two examples I hear of regularly.
What are you most looking forward to working on in 2020?
As BREXIT seems to be actually about to happen, that will have some impact on hotels in the UK and those markets where the UK is a key source of business. Seeing how the Industry copes with that will be interesting, and I hope uplifting.
More generally it’s the start of a new decade – and that’s an exciting time to look forward. There is so much talk about AI and robotics impacting on hospitality I’m looking forward to a meal cooked and served by robots!!
What do you think is the biggest opportunity for the hospitality industry in 2020?
The winners will be the organisations that are most successful at recruiting and retaining staff, at developing their skills to lift productivity. This creates massive opportunities for every business, and also for training organsations. As a Management Institute and Professional Body I relish the opportunity that this gives us – it can only power up our Company sponsored Membership programme as people focus on CPD for their leaders and future leaders.
What’s been new for the Institute of Hospitality over the last year?
So many things – it has really been a massive year for us.
I think our new app – IOH Connect – is great. It enables our members to have a curated library relevant to their interests available at their fingertips, drawn from our massive resource of reports and publications.
The new category of affiliate membership – designed exclusively for those who are hospitality apprentices has been a great success, I am proud that from a standing start we are now supporting over 5,000 apprentices in their studies.
I will remember 2019 as the year when our Company Sponsored Membership scheme really came of age – with dozens of businesses enrolling collectively many hundred of their management teams.
What do you love most about your role as CEO of the Institute of Hospitality?
The people. I’m blessed with a team of colleagues who share the work of running the Institute that are a joy to work with. I also enjoy meeting so many of our members, through whom I’ve learned about sectors of the Industry that were previously a closed book to me.
What three traits do you think it takes to succeed in this industry?
Passion, empathy and a sense of fun.
Tell us one wish you’d love to see come true for the industry in 2020.
Let’s take peace on earth and goodwill to all men as a given. Aside from that (and a solution to the climate change issue) I would like to see our Industry, which is vast and multi sectored coming together to address common problems.
If I can have two wishes I would like to see Hospitality recognised as an Industry in its own right by the UK government. We are treated as a sub-set of Tourism, and whilst I know how that works for hotels, restaurants and convention centres I always feel that for the many thousands who work in public sector catering and workplace dining must see this as very dis-enfranchising. We are a massive sector that should be seen in it’s own light.
We hear a lot about a staffing crisis in hospitality, whose responsibility is to address this issue?
All of us. We need to pull together with a common purpose and greater unity.
How will being part of the Institute of Hospitality help workers during 2020?
We aim to ensure that our members are amongst the best informed people in the Industry. We take pride in being a trusted source at a time when “fake news” and weird non-facts gain so much traction.