The hospitality industry must help young people develop their confidence and skills, says the new Hotelier of the Year Sue Williams.
These were the words of the Whatley Manor general manager on receiving her award at a celebratory lunch at Northcote in Langho, Lancashire, this week.
“I have heard myself in recent times referring to this generation coming through as lacking in commitment,” she said. “We have to help this generation build confidence, social skills, learn patience, and realise how this fantastic access to information needs to be balanced with emotional intelligence, and from there we can help create the next generation who will be fit for the hospitality sector.
“As a collective, let’s identify those in our teams who do have emotional intelligence, keep them on board, and let them know their value to our sector,” she added.
In her 36-year career in hospitality, Williams has headed up some of the UK’s most iconic country house hotels – including Bemond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, the Bath Priory, Gidleigh Park and Cliveden House – and has worked tirelessly in nurturing rising hoteliers and chefs. She was praised by a judging panel of past winners for her commitment to young people starting out in the industry.
Williams urged employers to use “tech-free time” to build their employees’ social skills and relationships, adding: “We need to focus more on emotional intelligence.”
She touched on the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s exit from the European Union, and said the challenges the industry is facing “just became that much harder” and described the uncertainty as “tough”. She also referred to the additional recruitment challenges the industry is facing, with fewer young people enrolling in hospitality courses and other sectors harvesting its staff.
However, she concluded on a positive note: “The fact that so much of the rule book that we have operated by to date is just about to get re-written excites me tremendously, and I know that as such a phenomenally resourceful crew, we will be the ones to find our way through whatever comes next.”
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