East Coast hoteliers urged to check-in for a skills review

Mon 20th August 2018
Catering Food Industry Hospitality Small

The East Coast’s hotel industry is facing huge levels of competition and disruption from the rise of the rapidly expanding peer-to-peer accommodation sharing market.

While Airbnb has become the most well- known brand in the “sharing” economy, there are now more than 7,500 different online accommodation sharing sites, adding to the challenges faced by hoteliers both in East Yorkshire and across the UK.

Visitor numbers to the region are high, with VisitEngland’s annual attractions survey showing a seven per cent increase in visits to the region’s museums, galleries, theme parks and other attractions from 2016 to 2017 - the highest in the country. Tourism in Yorkshire is estimated to support around 11 per cent of the county’s workforce – equivalent to around 243,000 jobs.

And with this success comes competing demand and competition for visitor accomodation, but there are ways that hoteliers can combat this threat.

Cat Smith, overseeing the delivery of the £5.7m Skills Support for the Workforce fund for leisure and hospitality businesses, says sharpening staff skills will help them stay competitive, keep standards high and by focusing on their main points of difference hoteliers will achieve good customer satisfaction.

She explains: “The conventional hospitality experience is increasingly being tested and businesses can view this as a real opportunity to play to their strengths. Service is one of the hotel industry’s biggest strengths as this isn’t something that’s offered within sharing-economy platforms with any real gravitas yet.”

Six major benefits that skills training can provide are:

1. Customer Service If staff are able to deliver 100% satisfaction to guests, it will always lead to repeat customers, and receiving good reviews on sites like Trip Advisor certainly help to support more bookings. Courses on Welcoming Tourists and Visitors to their Destination, NVQ Diploma in Front of House Reception, Delivering World Class Customer Service and renowned courses can all help give staff that extra edge to make sure guests have the best experience.

2. Communication skills Being able to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing, to other businesses and customers is another crucial skill. As well as general training courses in English there are specific courses in Front of House and Conflict Management that can help staff create better connections with guests, making each guest have a memorable stay and a positive experience.

3. Health and Safety Due to the number of customers who pass through the doors, health and safety is crucial. Alongside mandatory health and safety training, there are a wide range of courses that apply to the hospitality industry, including diplomas in food and beverage service and food production and cookery, as well as specific courses including Safe use of Chemicals and Servicing a range of Housekeeping Areas that will maintain a safe working environment for both staff and customers.

4. Teamwork Running a hotel requires a good team and good team leadership. You may be a leader of a team, therefore ensuring that colleagues are given the correct instructions is essential to customer satisfaction and productivity. Courses in leadership and management, including an Award in Hospitality Supervision and Leadership Principles, Reception Services, Performance & Conflict Management, will all make sure teams work as successfully as possible.

5. Computer skills There’s usually a great deal of work required on software systems for bookings and analysing data. There is also a huge growth in customers booking online and through emails rather than over the phone. While the majority of people now understand how to use computer systems, IT skills courses can definitely help increase productivity and ensure all staff are up to speed on the latest excel skills and able to process bookings and respond to enquiries effectively.

6. Marketing Knowing how to promote and market your offering is crucial to all industries, and especially true for anyone involved in the visitor economy.  It’s how you tell potential guests what you offer and why you are different. It also explains what you do as a business for the local community e.g employ local people, work with local suppliers. Courses in Marketing, Destination Marketing, Customer Care and Social Media Marketing can all help you connect with customers and expand your reach to new ones.

Cat continues: “The reasons hotels exist haven’t changed. People will always want good, clean, safe accommodation and a high level of customer service which you don’t necessarily get when you rent an apartment online. These places rarely have a gym, pool or parking facilities, and you certainly don’t get a restaurant, or that level of customer support, insight, recommendation and advice that you get from staff at a hotel.

“There is a real opportunity for companies in this sector to gain the competitive edge and take advantage of the opportunity to upskill staff to maximise and capitalise on all the reasons why customers and tourists would prefer a hotel to a rented private space.”

But committing the investment to quality staff training isn’t always easy.  This is especially the case in a fast-paced sector where it can be hard for hotel and leisure businesses to recruit and, most importantly, keep hold of staff and team members with the right skills.

To help tackle these barriers, a range of fully funded training courses are being offered through the Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) project, co-financed by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.  The courses are delivered by a network of local training providers across North Yorkshire in partnership with Calderdale College, which oversees the delivery of the programme.

For more information and to see if your business is eligible for fully-funded training please visit ssw.fundingunit.org.uk/areas/york-north-yorkshire-and-east-riding 


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