Recruitment Trends in the Hospitality Industry

19/02/2019By Lesley Reynolds
The hotel and leisure sectors experienced strong headwinds throughout 2018. This shows little sign of abating in the short term, fuelled by conditions such as the uncertainty of Brexit, increases in rent and rates, and the minimum wage and statutory pension costs driving up wages. So, what are the hospitality industry recruitment implications? We explore how this is impacting management recruitment across the hotel, leisure and hospitality sectors.
hospitality hotel entrance

The hotel sector had a positive year in 2018, although it was slow to start and the luxury segment in the UK reported a sluggish first quarter. To London hoteliers’ relief, a phenomenal June, July and August followed. This was attributed to the weak pound, the timing of Ramadan and the record-breaking hot summer leading to a higher number of ‘stay-cations’. The market remained strong throughout October, November and December.

Robin Rossmann, MD of STR, exercised caution at the annual Hot.E Conference. Due to continuous development, a further 7,500 rooms are due to enter the London hotel market in the coming 12 months, leading to supply outstripping demand. Regionally, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Manchester are the top locations currently attracting investors.

New hotel inventory continues to drive opportunity at General Manager level, and the demand for high quality General Managers globally has never been greater.

Despite the hotel market producing better than expected top line figures, General Managers are reporting very significant challenges with recruitment. Various top-end London hotels with high occupancies struggled to find sufficient housekeeping staff. Looking ahead, creative solutions are emerging in some hotel groups as to how to tackle the problem of the declining numbers of European staff available.

The hotel recruitment market has continued to be affected by the sizeable mergers of the last two years. The impact of the Starwood-Marriott merger has continued, slowing external General Manager activity whilst Accor, in adding Movenpick to the portfolio in 2018, has continued restructuring.  Brexit has negatively impacted a handful of senior appointments in the UK where there is a significant European involvement, and hopefully 2019 will bring clarity and sufficient confidence to enable the execution of some great business opportunities. The good news is that new hotel inventory continues to drive opportunity at General Manager level, and the demand for high quality General Managers globally has never been greater.

There was strong demand for CFO’s, Financial Directors and Senior Financial Controllers in 2018, and in Sales & Marketing, just as in Leisure and hospitality, the demand for high quality Digital Marketers remains strong.

However, Area and Cluster roles seem to be diminishing along with the mergers and tend to be internal appointments, which can be difficult for General Managers to navigate. There was strong demand for CFO’s, Financial Directors and Senior Financial Controllers in 2018, and in Sales & Marketing, just as in Leisure and hospitality, the demand for high quality Digital Marketers remains strong. In Travel, we have been successful in using our strong hospitality network and recently delivered a Director of Ground Experience for a well-known airline.

hospitality restaurant

2018 saw some dramatic announcements across the casual dining market. CVA activity at Jamie Oliver’s, Strada, Prezzo, Carluccios, and Byron, and Gaucho, Patisserie Valerie and Villandry entering administration has certainly kept the casual dining sector in the news.

However, entrepreneurial appetite within the restaurant sector is not easily thwarted. Smaller businesses have managed to find a way through, including Pho, Wahaca, Vapiano, Le Bistrot Pierre alongside more established operators such as Nando’s, Wagamama and The Azzurri Group (with Zizzi, Ask Italian and Coco di Mama).

2018 was a challenging recruitment landscape to navigate, however with new entrants to the market psd has continued to support the appointments of CEO’s, COO’s and MD’s into the leisure and quality restaurant markets. There has been increased activity in sales and digital marketing roles in this area, as businesses respond to the positive impact fresh talent (often from outside of the sector) can make to drive top line growth.

psd’s Hotel, Leisure & Travel team had a strong year performing against the odds. The depth of experience and market knowledge has resulted in a number of quality appointments to be delivered, and 2019 is already promising to be exciting as well as eventful.

About the author

executive recruiter

Lesley Reynolds

Managing Director – Hotels, Leisure & Travel

Lesley heads psd‘s Hotel, Hospitality, Leisure & Travel sectors at board, senior executive and management level on a global basis. She is very active personally delivering executive search and senior assignments across these sectors.

Find out more about psd’s management recruitment services