Posted By Jason Martin, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Tahola,
11 April 2019
Updated: 09 April 2019
The process of gathering and analysing information about customers has become a fundamental requirement for companies seeking to compete in the digital era. As the consumer’s data footprint expands, so does the opportunity for businesses to understand their requirements in more detail.
Single Customer View (SCV) seeks to consolidate and aggregate data to give a holistic view of the customer to maximise on past activity to predict future behaviour. This can be exploited further by targeted marketing to elicit a planned response, the ultimate aim being to generate additional revenue through obtaining detailed customer insight.
Within the hospitality industry the adoption of an SCV is usually to assist the marketing function to drive sales by stimulating more visits, encouraging the customer to spend more or trigger lapsed customers to re-engage.
To do this we can use the many digital touch points a customer has with a hospitality business. A few of the more common data sources include, EPOS, WiFi, Social Media Channels, Direct Marketing and data held within a CRM.
I was recently involved on an SCV project for a UK based hospitality operator, they had a number of data feeds into their SCV, some were linked to EPOS (loyalty card) and some weren’t (WIFI login). The first campaign that was driven by the SCV was focused on Father’s Day. Using the SCV and the connected data, we were able to segment their customers to specifically identify lapsed customers that fitted a particular profile, in this instance it was men who had children. An email campaign was created and distributed to the targets identified. The day after Father’s Day we were able to quantify the effectiveness of the campaign by looking at the activity of the selected recipients. The re-engagement of those lapsed customers was particularly compelling and the money that was spent as a result of the campaign contributed to the overall ROI of the project.
The SCV is therefore, not only a source for direct marketing, but direct marketing should also be a source for the SCV. If a feed from the direct marketing platform(s) is used to update the SCV with the marketing activity a customer has received, then the effectiveness of it can be analysed accurately.
This can be quantified not only in terms of what the customer has spent as a result of the campaign, but also how receptive they were to the approach. This provides the marketeer with insight to tailor more effective and targeted campaigns by utilising the information that has been gained from the SCV.
Consequently the SCV becomes the master data for the customer. It uses the dimensional data from the CRM and calculates the attributes and measures that are necessary to provide insight and segmentation for the marketing activities, this therefore means that the return on investment for the implementation and adoption of the SCV can easily be calculated.
The challenge as always though is in the detail. The multiple software systems previously mentioned, identify the customer and measure them in many different ways. These must all be conformed, to enable us to join the activities to the unique customer.
Posted By Martin Jones, UHY Hacker Young,
28 March 2019
Updated: 26 March 2019
The rise in modern consumer demands and advanced technologies has led to many global hoteliers integrating non-traditional services into their business plans in order to ramp up bookings. In this article, we look at hotels offering a ‘home from home’ experience, spaces for co-working and the trend in offering more ‘meaningful’ experiences for holiday bookers.
Home from home
One way hotels are attracting guests is by embracing home sharing. Earlier last year, Marriott International embarked on its first venture into home sharing, under the Tribute Portfolio. The hotelier partnered with Hostmaker for its pilot in London, and found that guests were staying more than twice the typical hotel length of usual stays and were seeking for more space than a hotel, choosing units with multiple bedrooms.
Home from home
The hotels that have already turned their open lobbies into socialising or work spaces are now taking it one step further to cater to business travellers and professionals, setting up co-working areas. Much more than a lobby, the space is offering practical amenities like office supplies, printers and coffee – something the start-up WeWork has seen being a huge success. The likes of Spacemize creates an alternative work environment, branding them as a space that is more productive than working from home, more convenient than working from a coffee shop, more beneficial than having a private office and cheaper than renting a coworking desk. Marketing these spaces as freelance havens has led to the start-up emerging in London’s most exclusive venues.
More meaningful travel experiences
Eco hotels, such as Mauritius based hotel SALT, ensure their bookings include plans to “connect modern explorers with meaningful travel experiences”, and members of staff invite hotel guests to events with family and friends. SALT have found this such a success, there are plans for an opening in Sichuan, China, next year. Hotels and home sharing platforms have realised that guests want more from their hotels than just a bed to sleep in.
Even though these new trends emerging are broadening the scope of the hotel industry and the weak pound is helping lure in inbound leisure travel, uncertain negotiations around Brexit may impact business and leisure travel in the near future and create a new economic environment for the hospitality industry, which the hotel sector needs to be ready to adapt to.
When it comes to payroll, the hospitality sector is incredibly complex – with transient, seasonal, part-time and full-time workers that are paid hourly, weekly or monthly. Add tips, service charges, shift swapping and a high-turnover of staff to the mix and it’s easy to see why payroll problems can be common. It’s therefore no surprise that hospitality businesses regularly appear on the Government’s ‘named and shamed’ lists for not paying the minimum wage.
Aside from the obvious impact on workers, resolving these issues takes time that people in the hospitality sector generally don’t have – not to mention the potential reputational damage or even prosecution that comes as a result of falling short of the regulations.
Aside from ensuring your payroll systems and processes are robust, you need to make sure that structures are in place to ensure both you and your employees are complying with all governing bodies, including HMRC and the Pensions Regulator. You also need to make sure you have strong, consistent processes in place to ensure your employee’s pay is accurate and arrives on time.
You then need to make sure you don’t fall foul of some common mistakes made by hospitality businesses, including:
Uniform requirements that push workers below the minimum wage.
Including tips in NMW calculations.
Not counting time to change into uniform, team meetings or travel between sites as working time.
Not keeping adequate records.
Not updating an employee’s hourly rate when their age takes them into a new NMW bracket.
Used in the right way, technology can help remove many of the complexities of complying with NMW requirements. In conjunction with employment law experts, GQ|Littler, we created a ‘National Minimum Wage guide’ covering common challenges like those above, the legal requirements and how technology can ease the burden of compliance.
Posted By Phil Grehan Manager, UHY Hacker Young,
21 March 2019
Updated: 19 March 2019
Those who haven’t yet abandoned their Facebook profiles in favour of Twitter or Instagram have probably been flooded with ‘10 year challenge’ photos (a social media trend involving sharing a current picture of yourself alongside a picture from 10 years ago). Some friends have fundamentally changed, moved out, married or had kids, whereas some seem remarkably similar – if not for a few more greys or a little less hair. What if the hotel sector had a Facebook profile? What are the key feature changes since the midst of the recession in 2008/09?
The power of the consumer
Successful hotels have always focused on ‘guest experience’, but in the past decade the stakes have been raised tenfold. An off par meal or poor night’s sleep is all that is needed for a guest to vent their dissatisfaction on social media. Equally, hotels offering a unique experience, or a great event venue will benefit from free advertising as photos from hundreds of smart phones circulate the internet. Engaging with social media is a must for all hotels.
Staffing, staffing, staffing
In 2008/09 almost every hotelier I spoke with would include staffing as one of their main headaches. Whether struggling to find staff for regional hotels, struggling to retain managers and team leaders or simply struggling to cover their growing payroll expense, this was a headache. Ten years on this has not changed. In fact, National Minimum Wage increases in excess of inflation have made staffing more costly and the Brexit decision has made sourcing staff much harder. This challenge is expected to get much worse.
In 2008, technology was seen as a way of increasing guests or cutting administrative costs. In 2019, for many this is still the case. However, the more adventurous or high end hotels are beginning to use technology to personalise their guest experience. With accumulated guest data, hotels can contact guests in advance of a stay with activity recommendations and complementary offers based on their previous activity. They can greet them by name at the point of check in and book them into their ‘usual’ room, and send an automated email for brief, but important feedback after their stay to improve the service next time. In fact, some hotels have done away with the reception desk altogether removing the barrier between the receptionist and the guest and some are proponents of using AI for check in, freeing up staff time for other guest interactions. Watch this space. With increasing pressure on staffing, technology adoption may be forced to increase.
If the hotel sector had a Facebook profile, it would undoubtedly have a façade of reliability and consistency, unchanged by time. However, look a little closer and there are a number of ways it has reinvented itself this past decade. More interesting still are the changes yet to come.
Posted By Phil Grehan, manager, UHY Hacker Young ,
19 March 2019
After noticing various friends participating in the Facebook’s ’10 Year Challenge’ (a recent social media trend involving posting a picture of yourself from ten years ago side by side with current one) this week, I have been thinking about how things have changed for UK restaurants since the depths of recession. What if the restaurant sector had a Facebook profile? What are the key changes since 2008/09?
Everyone has a voice
The past 10 years has seen social media become indispensable, with over 1.5 billion additional users during this period. For many it is the first thing they look at in the morning and the last thing at night. For restaurants with show stopping dishes, idyllic locations or great customer service this is an opportunity for free advertisement whether through ‘checking in’, reviewing or sharing photos of a meal. However, the potential downside is magnified too. Complaints triggered by an off par meal or poor service are now shared with a large audience, meaning the level of reputational risk has also increased exponentially.
Health food evolution
From the raw food and baby food diets of the late ‘00s, to the paleo and keto diets of now, ‘extreme’ diets are big business, but continually changing. These trends (along with our increasing obsession with cookery programmes) suggest today’s consumer is more informed and health-conscious than they were in 2008/09. Whilst restaurants would be ill advised to change menus seasonally to meet the whims of the next best diet, consumers want to know from where their food is sourced and what its nutritional value is, meaning increased pressure on restaurant owners to cater for their needs and provide this information.
This decade has seen a definite shift in preference towards convenient and flexible dining more compatible with a busy lifestyle. Deliveries remain a small portion of total food sales, but have c.7% growth the past five years whilst the casual dining sector has experienced a boom in demand, only to falter in the last 18 months as higher labour costs, business rates and food costs have caught up with some chains, resulting in branch closures and CVA’s. However, for restaurants that can keep control of their costs and offer dining flexibility, this shift in demand remains an opportunity.
Statista identifies that annual turnover of restaurants and mobile food services in the UK have grown at an astonishing rate, from £22m in 2008 to £38m in 2017. Aside from the threat presented by Brexit, these high levels of growth combined with changes in demand and a consumer-led ‘review/comment’ culture present an opportunity within the restaurant sector – but only for those who are able to stay ahead of the game.
Posted By Tevin Tobun, Board Member, Arena and CEO, GV Group (Gate Ventures),
14 March 2019
Hospitality is one of the few industries that can never be truly replaced by the virtual world.
Human interaction, or service, can never be replicated through a device or technology. It drives everything we do as a sector.
Of course, as every operator knows, a lot more goes into running a hospitality business than simply delivering good service, be that in catering, accommodation and everything else in between. Think recruitment and training; managing supplier relationships; seeking and winning new business opportunities.
In today’s digital age, all of these can in many ways be dealt with at the touch of a button, thanks to the countless tech tools on the market claiming to enable operators to get on with the business of good hospitality.
From social media, instant messaging, emails and video conferencing to online stock management, and web-based training portals, there are myriad back-of-house tech services that support commercial success.
But tempting as it might be, these digital interactions should never be a complete substitute for face-to-face communication, of which the advantages are plenty.
Relationships are what a good hospitality business is built on. In-person networking is immediate. It enables discussion, speeds up communication and lets you reach mutual understandings more quickly, rather than spend time waiting between digital responses. It can be more honest and transparent than digital interactions, which in turn can lead to stronger, longer lasting relationships as a result.
Face-to-face networking also comes with the subtle social cues - such as body language, intonation and expression - that are absent from written digital messages.
Technology can never take the place of the personal touch either. Real world interactions enable both parties to showcase their sparkling personalities, providing valuable insights that will help foster an understanding of sales prospects, potential customers, future recruits and more.
From a personal perspective, this is something we do every day.
As part of my role on the Board of Arena, I have access to a broad range of senior contacts through their events. These relationships can, of course, be initiated and developed ‘virtually’ but having that face-time has been vital. My ability to network directly via Arena has helped me generate significant contracts.
Being adept at in-person networking has the potential to set you apart from your competitors as digital communication becomes ever more commonplace. The more technologically advanced we become, both in our business and personal lives, the more vital it is to develop the type of human connections that the virtual world can never deliver.
What digital communications can save you in time and resource, could cost you in opportunities if conducted in isolation because there will always be a crucial place for face-to-face networking. Savvy operators demonstrate their understanding of this with a comprehensive networking strategy that encompasses all the tools at their disposal.
As an industry, hospitality has never forgotten the value of face-to-face interactions with our customers and clients. I don’t believe it ever will.
Posted By Dr Heather Rolfe, National Institute of Economic and Social Research ,
13 March 2019
The hospitality sector is one of the highest employers of EU migrants with the most recent Employer Skills survey finding a third of hotels and restaurants employ at least one person from the EU and they represent 19% of the workforce. So it is no surprise to find that hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and bars are among the businesses most affected by any reduction of migration ushered in by Brexit.
NIESR has been tracking the sector’s response to Brexit since before the referendum. At an industry round table we held 2 years ago worries centred on the potential loss of their EU workers, future provision for low skilled migration and the costs and bureaucracy of a new, visa based, system. This week representatives from big corporate names joined SMEs and policy makers at another NIESR round table co-hosted with UK Hospitality. We found them more worried than ever, particularly about the unappealing menu of visa options in the Immigration White Paper.
Loss of EU workers and the process of applying for settled status
Two years ago our roundtable participants urgently wanted clarity on the status of their existing workforce. That issue has been addressed through the settled status scheme, though concerns about applying through a non-android phone, awareness and compliance remain. But in the meantime net migration from the EU has fallen to a level last seen in 2009 and by 60% since the referendum alone. This hasn’t gone unnoticed on the ground, with employers reporting loss of EU workers and fewer applicants. One expanding restaurant chain is now spending twelve times as much on recruitment than before the referendum. And a hotel was only just coping by incentivising staff to recommend family and friends.
Employers felt that the fall in the value of sterling was pivotal to the exodus of EU workers, particularly higher paid employees in management and professional jobs. Employers also said that EU colleagues felt they were unwelcome in the UK and had reconsidered their future here. As one restauranteur commented: ‘It’s a fairly caustic environment for them and a lot don’t feel welcome’. The general climate of uncertainty about future immigration arrangements was also seen to influence decisions, especially of potential migrants who employers were trying to recruit with little success.
Fishing from a larger pool
Employers told us repeatedly that they don’t deliberately set out to recruit migrants but face significant problems recruiting local workers. Asked whether they couldn’t just pay more, they explained that they would merely be competing with other employers in the sector, that price increases would have to passed on to the customer and living costs would increase.
A variety of initiatives within the sector testifies to its efforts to fish from a larger pool of talent. They include the Springboard Charity which supports disadvantaged people into employment in hospitality, leisure and tourism. Since the referendum employers have also looked to groups including ex-offenders, ex-service people, the homeless and the long-term unemployed. But as one employer explained, ‘it’s a lot of work and it’s not filling the gap’.
And employers emphasised that it’s about shortages of labour, not skills. As one participant explained: ‘We’ll upskill anybody. We’ll make that investment’. But recruits have to be work-ready – reliable and hard-working, with good social skills. EU migrants have offered the sector a steady supply of these ‘soft’ skills. New arrivals in particular are also more prepared than British recruits to start at the bottom while learning the language. This fits well with the value the sector places on understanding the business and on the job training.
A limited bill of fare
Hospitality employers have always made the case for immigration policies to cover lower skilled migration and the White Paper proposals were seen to fall short of the sector’s needs. But worse than that, there’s a view that the proposals are targeted at the sector as one of the largest and most visible employers of EU migrants. As one participant put it: ‘The message is that, if the immigration system that’s put in place affects the sector, it’s a price worth paying (to show that the UK Government is serious about reducing net migration)’.
Skilled visas will be subject to qualification and salary thresholds. Provisionally set at £30,000 employers said this would have to fall much nearer to £20,000 to cover most posts in the sector, especially since tips were not taken into account. As Marley Morris from the IPPR pointed out, around 90% of jobs currently carried out by EU national in the sector would not be eligible for a skilled visa. The only provision made in the White Paper for lower level skills is a ‘transitional’ arrangement for 12 month, non-renewable, visas and employers were adamant that these would not meet the sector’s needs: costs incurred through in-house training would not be re-cooped, employers wouldn’t be unable to progress individuals to supervisory and management posts and the costs of continual recruitment would soar. Employers also feared the visas would create a two-tier workforce and make integrated teams more difficult to achieve, as a hotel manager stated:
‘You wouldn’t invest in someone here for a short period of time in the way you’d invest in your other employees. There’s friction there’
The White Paper includes provision for an extended Youth Mobility Scheme open currently to 18-30 year olds in eight countries including Canada, Australia and Japan. But again, they didn’t see this as meeting their longer-term needs, unless visa holders could transfer to other routes without having to leave the country and reapply.
Wake up and smell the coffee
Migrants have enabled the sector to expand so that our cafes, restaurants and hotels are now seen as an asset for tourism, which has not always been the case in the past. But the industry now faces what a number of participants described as a ‘perfect storm’. Demographic changes have reduced the supply of young people who in any case would prefer to work in sectors such as arts, media, teaching and health. At 4.1% unemployment is at an almost record low while at 75.5% economic participation is at a record high. This makes migrants pretty essential if businesses are to thrive once Britain leaves the EU.
What sometimes gets lost in the Brexit noise is that the hospitality sector, which has traditionally employed many migrants, also employs more than 2.5 million British workers whose jobs are at stake if a ‘skills based’ immigration system means employers can’t recruit the workers they need.
Posted By Sterling Crew FIFST, FCIEH, FRSPH, CSi, strategic advisor to Shield Safety Group ,
08 March 2019
Remarkably, on-premise food labelling on non-pre-packed or pre-packed are not currently required. This could change following a government consultation announced last week. The UK has over two million food allergy sufferers, and with around 7% of the UK’s children also having food allergies, it is an issue that is not going to go away.
To assess the potential impact of this and to provide a summary of the proposal we canvassed immediate thoughts from our strategic advisor, Sterling Crew FIFST, FCIEH, FRSPH, CSi.
“It’s all about giving the confidence back to the consumer in the safety of their food. The government launched this consultation to strengthen allergen labelling laws. Following on from the tragic death in 2016 of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, where this young girl died from a severe allergic reaction to a baguette, that was bought at a Pret A Manger airport outlet. The ingredients, or more importantly, the allergens were not listed on the baguettes packaging.”
UK food law permits no allergen labelling on products that are not pre-packed or which are pre-packed on the premises where they are sold. In fact, these foods are not required to carry any labels on ingredients at all and information on allergens is often given in person by the food business, only when asked by the consumer.
Sandwiches sold in supermarkets that are prepared off-site in manufacturing operations are fully labelled – their products outline the 14 allergens that consumers must be made aware of when they are used as an ingredient in food.
Individual product labelling is the most effective way of communicating vital information for people with food allergies and may well have prevented previous incidents and tragedies.
Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said: “We want to ensure that labels are clearer and that the rules for businesses are more consistent – so that allergy sufferers in this country can have confidence in the safety of their food.”
What are the key changes being put forward?
Food businesses selling pre-packaged food directly for sale could be required to follow new rules. The options put forward in the consultation to improve the way allergy information is labelled on these foods include:
Mandating full ingredient list labelling
Mandating allergen-only labelling on food packaging
Mandating ‘ask the staff’ labels on all products, with supporting information for consumers available in writing
Promoting best practice around communicating allergen information to consumers
What does this mean to the those in the food industry?
It will present some undoubted new challenges, especially for the smaller food companies. What is clear no matter how big or how small, all food businesses will have to the raise the allergen awareness of their staff.
For any new labelling requirements to work, it’s vital that staff are trained in allergen management to ensure the labels are accurate. It’s also critical to have an approach which opens up a dialogue with consumers. Some food allergens are not on the prescribed list of 14, such as Kiwi fruit and tomatoes. So, the best option is to ensure full labelling of all ingredients. This also helps consumers make a more informed choice, quickly and without feeling the need to ask, just in case.
In light of recent tragedies, it is integral for food retailers and those in hospitality to be proactive and review the robustness of their approach to the management and labelling of allergens. Everyone with a food allergy should have the information they need to stay safe. For customers to make informed decisions, businesses need to stay more informed.
The way businesses are expected to keep their business records is set to change forever.
From 1st April 2019 all VAT registered businesses whose taxable supplies are above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will have to maintain digital business records which are capable of filing VAT returns directly to HMRC. These digital records in their standard form must record every individual supply (sale) made by the business.
So, what does this mean for your business?
If you currently maintain your own financial records, including manual records, spreadsheets or non-MTD compliant book-keeping packages, you will need to change them to an MTD compliant software package which can link directly to HMRC to download your VAT return. The current Government Gateway will not be available to file your VAT return through. Therefore, from the first day of your VAT accounting period, which starts on or after 1st April 2019, you must be MTD ready.
We are currently investing in both new hardware and software to facilitate a smooth transition so that you meet your obligations under MTD and take away the pain.
To avoid the need for your digital business records to record every individual sale i.e. every pint of beer, glass of wine, serving of steak & ale pie etc, we will maintain your records using the appropriate VAT Retail Scheme. This scheme enables us to record sales in your digital business records at the gross daily takings level rather than on an individual sale basis.
Whilst this will substantially reduce the number of transactions recorded in your digital business records, it still represents an increase in the amount of information we will be obliged to process on your behalf. We will now have to record the sales from each day in your financial records rather than simply one weekly total from your cash sheet. Fully completed cash sheets will become an even more important part of minimising processing time and therefore bookkeeping costs.
So, whilst the changes of the introduction of MTD are significant, the only impact you are likely to face will be a small increase in charges to cover the increased processing time.
And the future?
MTD for VAT is only the first stage in HMRC’s plan to make the tax system digital. The second stage will be known as MTD For Business which will represent a fundamental shift in the way that both individuals and companies report their taxable earnings. As things currently stand, this is scheduled for introduction in April 2020 and will involve the quarterly declaration of business profits via your digital financial records – now there’s something to look forward to!
As might be expected MTD will inevitably mean More To Do.
Posted By Boyes Turner,
28 February 2019
Updated: 26 February 2019
A rare decision has recently been reported on the Hotel Proprietors’ Act 1956. The Act imposes a duty on hotel proprietors to make good the loss of a guest’s property unless they can prove the loss was incurred as a result of the guest’s own negligence.
Proprietors may limit what is otherwise strict liability by displaying a sign in a prominent place confirming the extent of their duty. However, this does not apply where the loss is due to the hotelier’s negligence. Anande v Firoka (King’s Cross) Ltd  EWHC 3679 (QB) demonstrated the importance of ensuring that issues of security are taken seriously by hoteliers. Simply relying on the fact that something is widely used and well regarded is unlikely to be sufficient to allow them to rely upon the limitation provisions.
On 18 November 2015 Mrs Anade checked into the Holiday Inn King’s Cross. She had with her a substantial quantity of jewellery and other property which she arranged to place in the room safe. Whilst she was at dinner, her room was burgled.
Prior to leaving her room, Mrs Anade had complained that her door had not been locking properly but when inspected by one of the hotelier’s employees she was told she needed to pull it firmly shut. Following the burglary, the locking system was further inspected and was found to be working with no record of the door having been unlocked.
Mrs Anade contended that the hotelier had negligently failed to ensure the door locked effectively and sought damages from them. .
The hotelier contended that the room was secured with a “state of the art electronic proximity lock” which was in good working order and that no-one had entered the room without permission.
The hotelier disclosed documents relating to a series of thefts on 3 October 2015. Rooms had been entered and property stolen in circumstances where there was no signed of forced entry and where the door locks were found to be in good working order and the records did not show any entry to the rooms.
The court found that Mrs Anade was only entitled to fixed damages pursuant to the Act. She appealed.
The hotelier provided further documents relating to news reports which revealed a significant hacking problem allowing criminals to enter hotel rooms with such locks. The Court found that the Recorder had relied on the fact that the locking system was widely used and well regarded . However, the appeal court disagreed. It said that once the hotelier had identified that rooms had been unlawfully entered by breaching the electronic lock it was incumbent on it to do something about that. They found that the hotelier could not simply continue to rely on locks which it knew could be breached. At the very least they ought to have warned guests about the known breaches.
The court found that Mrs Anade had established negligence. Guests were reasonably entitled to believe that the doors to their rooms would be secure. By failing to adequately respond to the October thefts the hotelier was in breach of its duty.