In the first instalment of his new weekly column, our founder Adam Hyman looks at the one issue affecting every hospitality business the world over.
I’ve spent the past week cocooned on a Caribbean Island. The hustle and bustle of New York that I left behind last weekend feels like a distant memory compared to the white beaches, blue skies and laid back nature of the Caribbean. No busy Subways, no taxi horns beeping away, no police sirens. Just the noise of the sea lapping against the shore that gets masked by the noisy crickets that come to life after sunset.
Over a bottle of Tingnanello one evening, I caught up with a hotel GM about the pros and cons of running a hospitality business on one of the smaller, lesser known Caribbean islands. I probably don’t need to go into the pros – the weather, the lifestyle and the lovely locals. The cons though when it comes to operating a hotel and a couple of restaurants are vast.
The shipments of supplies – stuff sits in the port for weeks for no apparent reason – waiting to be signed off. And good luck trying to find a replacement on the island. Gone are the days when simply having one type of milk suffices – guests want oat, almond and soya for their morning flat whites. And wine – maybe best to stick to the rum or the local Carib beer unless you’re happy to pay over the odds.
But what was most apparent from this conversation was staff. It’s hard enough in cities like London and New York, but imagine trying to recruit for a 5-star luxury hotel from an island that has a population of 100,000 – many of whom haven’t even left the Caribbean before. Where do you take them to show them hospitality – service, interiors and just the general level of hospitality expected from guests.
But what the locals lack in skills can be made up by their warmth and general demeanour. It struck me that no matter where you’re operating a hospitality business from in the world, staffing – both in terms of recruiting and training – still remains the main issue.
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