Welsh Hospitality leaders say ‘People will be the key to recovery’

Leading representatives from the hospitality industry have shared their expertise to inspire Welsh businesses to recover, rebuild and revitalise as the sector begins to reopen.

Alistair Darby, Non-Executive Director at S.A.Brain Ltd; Ian Edwards, CEO of Celtic Manor Resort and ICC Wales; Shauna Guinn, Co-owner of Hang Fire Southern Kitchen; Kathryn Jones, Sales and Marketing Manager at Castell Howell; and Graham Randall, Managing Director of Quantuma Corporate Advisory Firm took part in a lively conversation, sharing insights from different facets of the sector including pubs, accommodation, independent restaurants and wholesalers.

Sponsored by Sword Security and organised by Chambers Wales, the event was broadcast live from Corporate Partner Capital Law’s offices in Cardiff on 21st April.

From employees to consumers, the panel highlighted the importance of people to the industry and its recovery in the debate hosted by Chris Nott, Founder and Senior Partner of Capital Law.

Attracting new employees to the sector, retaining staff and upskilling, along with the need to professionalise the industry, creating a respected career path, was a particular area of focus during the hour-long discussion.

Graham Randall said: “It’s very much about changing perceptions. Hospitality has been seen as a job rather than a career and I think it’s down to the industry to help change that image.”

Shauna Guinn said: “Hospitality is all about people; it’s about customers, staff, supply chain. The sector does have a part to play in this. Instead of upskilling people and developing their careers, I think what we have done previously is burn people out and a lot of hospitality staff have been reflecting on their lives during the lockdowns. We need to become more professional to attract people, particularly young people, to the industry again.”

Managing consumer expectations, confidence and demand, against a backdrop of price inflation and safety measures, were also identified as barriers to rebuilding the sector that could be overcome.

Alistair Darby said: “There could be a great opportunity to drive the economy through hospitality and tourism and everything that’s associated with it. We’ve got to be brilliant – the role our people will play in this, and how we make hospitality an amazing career, will be important so that we offer astonishing experiences for consumers and ensure the behaviour shift during the pandemic towards Welsh and independent businesses sticks.”

Kathryn Jones said: “I would like to think that the effect of baking, cooking and upskilling at home during the lockdowns, is that customers appreciate the services that the hospitality sector provides. I think the public will pay for extra, appreciating the quality, time and work that we do and will be proud to support it.”

Ian Edwards said: “A good thing that has come out of this pandemic is that the profile of our industry has never been higher. Our job is to keep our profile high and show the importance of what we can do for the economy.”

Chambers Wales is the leading business membership organisation in Wales, bringing together the best industry expertise and resources from across Wales, and the world, to support Welsh businesses to recover, rebuild and revitalise in every sector.

Recover, Rebuild, Revitalise: Hospitality was the latest in a series of events aimed at arming the leaders of businesses with practical advice and confidence.