Richard Mayne is Cluster General Manager of Radisson Blu Edinburgh and the 5-star G&V Royal Mile Edinburgh Hotel
In 2017, Scotland welcomed increasing numbers of North American and European visitors. Personally, the past year offered much to celebrate, including further positive growth, staff (and food) receiving notable industry award recognition and the litmus test of a ‘job well done’; appreciative feedback from guests.
Yet as we usher in 2018 to our competitive market, there’s little room for complacency. It’s heartening to see more visitors cross the hotel threshold, attracted in part by our warm welcome, great service, outstanding scenery and excellent food and drink. From an international perspective, the weaker pound may also influence destination choice.
In Edinburgh, where some call for the introduction of a ‘tourist tax’ (a move I personally don’t support), the increasing number of beds on the market will further hone the industry’s competitive instinct. Faced with ever rising food and utility costs, we will all work harder to attract custom.
So, in 2018 I foresee challenges – but also opportunities. Competition will encourage further innovation as motivated employees apply their own industry knowledge with feedback from guests to further enhance the visitor experience. At Radisson Blu Edinburgh, guests have the convenience of electric car charging stations and families enjoy the novel ‘kid’s check-in’ procedure while at the 5-star G&V Royal Mile Edinburgh, our beehives produce honey for the breakfast table and the kitchen staff grow their own fresh herbs.
In March 2017, Radisson Blu Edinburgh worked with MasterChef: the Professionals winner Gary Maclean to host a HIT Scotland fundraising dinner. The dinner also gave young aspiring trainee chefs like Max Buller from Northern Ireland the opportunity learn new chefing skills under the watchful eye of Maclean and Barath Kumar, executive head chef at Radisson Blu Edinburgh.
Employees are the industry’s lifeblood and we surely all have a duty to collectively innovate to identify and retain talent. I am fortunate to work closely with highly professional, motivated teams. Many regard their role as more than a job. It’s a rewarding career of choice.
However, in this Year of Young People, I believe too few teenagers are engaged effectively within their own schools about the practical skills, professional qualifications and career progression our industry offers. School visits by front-line hospitality staff can convey the positives of our industry, impress the need for acumen in business and technology and help us to maintain a talent pipeline of young people. They are tomorrow’s hospitality leaders.
Of course, some hotels already run in-house programmes, while HIT Scotland offers invaluable scholarships. Day-to-day, we can all adopt ‘smarter staffing’ initiatives to retain and develop talent. I invest in training and reviews and use a monthly ‘coffee morning’ to directly engage staff. New starts receive regular mentoring and on the job coaching. Moreover individual coaching isn’t just about creating effective managers. It’s a tool to help produce future leaders.
I empower staff to make decisions. Given real responsibility and rewarded for performance helps to retain staff and to build a sustainable business. However, as an industry, we need to encourage flexible working, with job share and perhaps straight shifts allowing staff to juggle work with kids.
In 2018, our sector will continue to evolve. Whatever the challenges, let’s all embrace the opportunity to engage more young people about the rewards offered by our industry. Individuals’ with a can do attitude and a willingness to serve are the bedrock and future of our industry.
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