And by extension for hospitality recruitment agencies too
No comment on the catering industry’s performance over the last couple of years is complete without mentioning that it has been a bruising time for all involved and hospitality recruitment agencies are no exception. The question everyone in the hospitality industry wants answered is: how are our prospects for 2011 shaping up?
There’s a few assumptions we can make at this stage, one being that domestic demand will likely remain pretty flat and two, that the best hope of a short term boost to revenues will come from increased tourism.
I’ll get the dark side of this assessment out of the way first by offering a “thumbnail” of my reasons for near term pessimism (about domestic demand remaining flat). In fact it’s nothing more scientific than that I find it quite a challenge to envisage exactly what’s going to drive any increase in domestic demand. Wages will not appreciate in any meaningful way and until our soaring export performance translates into jobs we’ll have to look to a different demographic to pick up the slack. Thankfully it’s in the area of that other
demographic that reasons to be cheerful can be found.
So exactly how cheerful should we be about the prospect of sharper momentum through increased tourism? Well, here the grounds for optimism are reasonable and go beyond the fact that Fáilte Ireland has already predicted growth of 4%. With international fears of a double dip recession now diminishing and much of the major western economies returning to growth, optimism about increased numbers traveling, would appear well founded. Another silver lining, to our dark cloud, is our own recession has, paradoxically, left us well placed to exploit any up tic in numbers. We have a stock of modern, well appointed hotels, an ecosystem of restaurants which in terms of choice and quality compare favorably, and often surpass, the best destinations in the world. The financial shock of recent years is one which both hotels and restaurants have responded to with increased competitiveness resulting in astonishing value for the tourist.
The second shoe to fall is that we’re again getting recognition as a quality destination from internationally respected guides. French travel guide, Le Guide Du Routard praised Ireland’s restaurants for being unsurpassed the world over for a combination of value, service and quality of food. Indeed the praise for the quality of Irish restaurant food was as lavish as the Menu Dégustation at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, declaring that Ireland’s restaurant experience surpasses that of even France. This comes on the heels of Frommers Guide naming Ireland as its top tourist pick for 2011 and Ireland’s selection as most popular tourist destination in the Shanghai Oriental Morning Post’s World Travel awards.
The role chefs have played in our international prominence, as a quality destination, cannot be overstated and the fight to retain this talent pool is one of the elephants in the room which hasn’t, yet, got an outing in the national press or broadcast media. That a brain drain of chefs may be underway already is an argument with much anecdotal evidence to support it and one which we’re very much keeping an eye on in our own business.
This is a topic which I’ll be returning to again and again because in our business we need to be where the movement is taking place. We’ve got some great chefs in Ireland and consequently great places to eat. As an industry we’ve a fight on our hands to hold onto this talent. As a recruitment agency it’s our job to provide the best service we can to chefs and to clients. Whether or not our services are most in demand locally or internationally is an issue we simply don’t control. We do though recognize that some talent will inevitably be lost to opportunities abroad and it’s because of this we’ve partnered with relocation expert Taragh O’Kelly. The prominence of Irish chefs internationally make them a valuable asset in markets more buoyant than our own. By engineering a relocation service into our business we don’t seek to encourage their departure but rather to take some of the weight during what is quite a stressful transition.