Viewpoint: hospitality should be upping prices, says Gordon McIntyre

22 July 2021
Viewpoint: hospitality should be upping prices, says Gordon McIntyre

Tough times call for tough decisions, and as we come out of the pandemic, we must consider how to change our industry for the better. Gordon McIntyre says the answer lies in increasing prices.

What difficult and strange times we have been experiencing in the hospitality industry – and in our personal lives. But the saying "never waste a pandemic" comes to mind. Now is the time to act and make changes for the better. We are suffering from a recruitment crisis, caused by the pandemic and worsened by the effects of Brexit, with many overseas workers having returned to their homelands. It is truly a concerning time for the sector, with many operators currently trading with reduced capacities due to insufficient staff. There are concerns about keeping businesses afloat and debt – not to mention the health and wellbeing of staff, owners and managers.

The time is right for the industry to look at pricing structures and increase them across the board. This increase should then be passed on to the staff, who should all be employed on at least the living wage, not the minimum wage. The historic reputation of the industry, with its long hours and low pay, has got to go.

This may sound controversial; however, tough times call for tough decisions. The time has never been better to step up and make a difference. We need to be brave and courageous as we fight our way back and trade in a post-pandemic future.

As an industry, we need to stand together and all act in this positive way. When the tide comes in, all the boats are lifted. I am confident that now is our time to effect a lasting change that will create a better industry for the future: better for recruitment, for retention and also for profits.

Fair work is work that offers opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect; work that balances the rights and responsibilities of employers and workers, and which can generate benefits for individuals, organisations and society.

The Hoteliers' Charter, founded by Sally Beck, is moving towards this, as is the Wellness Charter from Hospitality Health in Scotland. Both need to be promoted to make the changes permeate across the industry and beyond. I know some will read this and fear that customers will not return if prices are increased. However, we have had no customers for 18 months in some cases, and they are hungry to come back to enjoy fabulous food, wonderful wines and superb service. As long as the sector provides this, guests will be more than happy to pay for it, especially for the memories that we are famous for creating when customers visit our businesses. Here's to a busy and prosperous period for all.

Gordon McIntyre is the founder of Hospitality Health and an associate dean of hospitality and tourism at the City of Glasgow College

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