Why the role of Finance is pivotal for the recovery of the hospitality industry 

02.09.2021 Author: Katherine Wyles

The Company Linchpin 

With the global economy currently undergoing a significant transformation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of financial leaders in navigating businesses through these unprecedented times has been propelled into the spotlight.

The impact of the pandemic has been felt globally and by most industries, but perhaps none so severely as the travel and hospitality sector. Financial leaders are now in a position where they must not only address major setbacks but provide long-term confidence and strengthen recovery and growth prospects.

Financial chiefs have experienced downturns in the past, following the fallout of the 2008 global financial crash, the war in Iraq and the September 11th terrorist attacks, however, nothing compares to the wide-reaching impact of the pandemic. Hospitality Financial Directors had to move quickly to protect their businesses as much as possible; negotiate with partners to limit exposure, campaign for the government to support the industry through this crisis and make tough decisions regarding furlough and redundancy to ensure that the business survived. These financial crisis management strategies were activated quickly, to help support the recovery which is now underway.

Speed of response and flawless execution is critical in any crisis to reduce its impact and provide confidence to all stakeholders. Through effective financial planning, Chief Financial Officers have driven the timely execution of improvement initiatives to reduce costs, overhaul procurement, revisit pricing strategies, as well as spearheading process improvements and innovations that add value to the company.

“Working smarter, recognising and minimising risks and exploiting opportunities will mean having to be constantly creative”. Howard Field, founder of FM Recruitment commented as he shared his views on strategies for finance as the industry recovers from the pandemic

Maintaining Confidence in the Company

Financial Directors are required to instil confidence in all internal and external stakeholders.

Internally - With so many employees on furlough or made redundant during the pandemic, transparency and honesty were crucial to build trust in the long-term prospects of the company and to maintain integrity. Financial Directors who were able to highlight the challenges ahead with strategies to overcome them were able to help companies communicate and maintain engagement with employees, who could otherwise have chosen to move on. Many hospitality companies have been able to focus on retraining and cross-training employees, using the opportunity to develop employees to adapt to the challenges after re-opening. Businesses that have managed to retain key talent over the period of closure will be best placed to grow the business as we move forward.

Externally – For many customers, how businesses acted during the pandemic will live long in their memories. Financial leaders, under pressure to maximise revenues and reduce costs, needed to weigh up the short-term gains against the long-term prospects and introduce more flexibility. For the most part, customers were hugely understanding and opted for flexible vouchers rather than full refunds and now finance leaders have responded by offering more relaxed cancellation terms to remove barriers, offer flexibility and build confidence to encourage future bookings.

All of this activity is underpinned by increased investor scrutiny to cut costs, grow revenue, and ensure control, which means financial leaders have had to become adept at managing multiple stakeholder requirements to inspire confidence and lead the way with the recovery of the industry.

The Future of Finance – Nurturing the Pipeline of Emerging Talent

According to several UK universities offering courses relating to hospitality and related financial studies, the number of overall undergraduates in hospitality studies has dropped in the last year. With the true impact of Brexit also yet to be clear, it seems likely that hospitality will face some real challenges in recruiting and retaining top talent in the near future.

Undergraduates are reconsidering their options, often tempted into continuing their studies or shifting towards other industries with seemingly more secure prospects. Never has it been more important to guide and nurture those who are showing interest in the hospitality industry.

In a Forbes article from 2020, Robert Parsons, Chief Financial Officer of Exclusive Resorts made an important observation noting “Today’s finance undergraduates absolutely have the necessary hard skills and drive to be successful in the workforce of today and tomorrow. Besides, their ambitions are not curtailed by outdated notions of career trajectories. All they need is an opportunity and then some mentorship. My approach to recruiting and cultivating top talent is to look for the right attitude and core problem-solving skills over just the finance hard skills, and then create opportunities for career advancement.

As active members of HOSPA, Chris and Andrea at FM Recruitment dedicate themselves to mentoring young talent as they progress through their careers. Our guiding hand can help businesses and candidates to optimise skills, showcase the opportunities to progress and help the hospitality industry recover and grow in the post-pandemic world.

For support with your next career move or to improve your recruitment strategy, please contact FM Recruitment now using any of the below details:

Office +44 20 8600 1160 I Email fm@fmrecruitment.co.uk
Chris Denison Smith +44 7775 711923 I Email chrisdenisonsmith@fmrecruitment.co.uk
Andrea Shaw +44 7714 236469 I Email andreashaw@fmrecruitment.co.uk