The hospitality industry remains optimistic that London's Olympic Games will be a great success, although some operators fear casual staff may not be up to the job, exclusive research by Caterer and Hotelkeeper in association with ACTClean and People 1st has revealed.
The study found that 72% of respondents thought the Games would be a great success for "all" or "some" of the industry, while more specifically, 61% believed the Games would have either a "very positive" or "fairly positive" impact on their businesses.
"There is money to be made, and as long as we are prepared and standards are not compromised, then it will result in a very profitable summer," said one respondent.
On the whole, the industry seems bullishly upbeat about its preparedness for the Olympic influx. Over half (51%) claim they are already prepared for the millions of extra tourists, while more than a quarter (26%) are positive they will be ready by the time the Games arrive.
However, while the vast majority of respondents (86%) felt they would have enough new staff in place and fully trained up to provide a top level service, comments from some participants reveal a deeper level of concern.
The survey found the perennial industry problem of inadequately trained casual staff was causing concern among operators, especially as 32% of respondents felt they would need to hire extra staff to cope with demand spikes.
Although two thirds (67%) thought staffing would not be a problem, nearly a quarter (23%) had concerns.
"I don't think there are enough trained, qualified staff," said one respondent, while another was worried that: "with the much greater demand for highly skilled staff, more employers will be relying on recruitment agencies for temporary staff to cover during the Olympic period and the agencies won't have enough staff to supply the demand."
The anxieties echo VisitBritain's call to arms earlier this month for operators to "go all out for customer service" during the Games and the British Tourist Authority's plea for businesses in the sector to, "offer the highest levels of customer service" to the extra tourists expected to arrive this summer.
Some operators seem to have tackled the issue head on: 19% have already hired extra staff, while a further 19% plan to hire this month.
But the fact that 42% of businesses are leaving it to the last minute and only plan to hire their staff in June and July, does nothing to allay fears, as it may not leave enough time for adequate training of new and casual staff.
In addition to staffing issues, 10% thought the Olympics would actually have a negative impact on their operations, mainly because London's workers could be forced to work from home during the Games.
Practical concerns were also raised. "Will there be enough staff available for the night-time deliveries and will staff be able to get to work in the busy transport network?," asked one operator, while another hotelier highlighted the disappointment many have felt over the original LOCOG deal.
"It has not worked out well," he said. "The fall off after the main games is massive and going to be a lot more than was predicted or communicated."
By Emily Manson
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