Rachel Byars considers the impact of COVID-19 on the hotel industry.
Hotels cannot provide excellent service without the help of great hospitality professionals. Hospitality is not simply the provision of service alone, but an experience that is specifically curated and delivered in a meaningful way for the attending guests by the hotel employees. One aspect that remains constant are the skills and quality of staff are among some of the most important factors that underpin the competitive success of a hotel. Pre-COVID more than 170,000 people worked across the hospitality sector in New Zealand. Research by Rachel Byars pre-Covid showed that these people were keen to pursue future professional development and career progression.
The Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted the sector’s professional growth and evolution, especially with so many of New Zealand’s hotels being used as managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities. About 30 hotels are now being used as managed isolation and quarantine facilities. The number of beds represents over 30% of the total hotel inventory in New Zealand's main centres, with reduced need for booking front office hotel staff. In other hotels, the absence of international visitors, and lockdowns affecting travel within New Zealand, has also reduced available work for hotel staff.
Many of the professional hospitality staff are amongst those who have had to look for jobs in other sectors, using their skills and experience in providing and managing customer experiences. The concern now is that the pandemic is limiting the potential for starting a career for new hospitality graduates or those in the early stage of their career path. This raises the question of whether hospitality professionals should be diverting their focus into alternative industries or take the opportunity to look to the future of the skills and training that will be required in the future.