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Good staff policies will be the key

19 March 2007
Good staff policies will be the key

If the 10th International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin proves anything, it's that the industry is increasingly aware of its cyclical nature.

While the good times are still rolling throughout much of Europe, many are fearful that the US slowdown will make its way across the pond and spoil the fun.

While there is some logic in this, and precedent for it, we must be careful that it does not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The hotel and tourism market in general has changed considerably since the last downturn. The introduction of internet bookings, cheaper flights, environmental concerns and the increasingly diverse sources of both tourists and workers - which now include eastern Europe, India and China - have all helped to alter the face of the traditional hotel market.

These factors will surely lead to less reliance on the US and Japanese markets (so long the mainstay of the UK's tourism business) and, if managed well, to a softening of any slowdown in the market.

Those in the industry have also learnt much in the passing years - or should have. Now is not the time to rest on your laurels but to streamline the business, invest in the infrastructure and in people and ensure that overall performance is at an optimum.

Several hotel groups have announced plans recently to expand in the UK and throughout Europe - and, of course, these hotels will need to be staffed. But with skills shortages still a major problem, recruitment remains a main concern for hoteliers.

It will, of course, be the employers that run a tight ship and have spent the years of prosperity developing loyal staff that will be the winners if the market gets tougher.

By Emily Manson, deputy news editor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper

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