Hospitality 101: Your guide to the UK’s hospitality sector

The hospitality industry in the United Kingdom has had a rough ride over the past year. Lockdowns forced many businesses to close or limit their operations in an effort to help keep communities safe. With the hospitality industry opening back up, we've put together an overview of the different business categories in hospitality, how to be successful in this sector, the impact of the pandemic, and how technology can make it easier to re-open after lockdowns.

Hospitality services: More than just a meal and a bed

The tourism and hospitality sector forms a major part of the UK’s economic and social landscape and employs around 3 million people, according to a report published by Economic Insight. Broadly speaking, hospitality is about making people feel welcome and offering them amenities and entertainment. When you travel, hospitality businesses provide you with a place to sleep and something to eat and drink—but that’s just the beginning.

Hospitality can typically be divided into six categories:

  • Accommodation

  • Gastronomy

  • Transportation 

  • Tourism

  • Recreation

  • Entertainment and events

Running a successful hospitality company

If you’re active in this sector (or thinking of starting your own business), it’s important to understand that customer service is the heart and soul of hospitality. All tourism and hospitality businesses primarily aim to deliver an enjoyable experience for their guests.

So how do you create great experiences and loyal customers?

Invest time in hiring good people

Talented customer-facing staff are particularly important for ensuring a high-quality hospitality service.

Create user-friendly training materials

Prepare instruction manuals for your employees so they won’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. They will appreciate the guidance and it’ll also boost productivity.

Cultivate a positive atmosphere

Hospitality companies and their employees often have to manage large numbers of guests and deliver at speed. Acknowledge these stress factors and reward your staff when they perform well.

Reading industry publications and keeping tabs on your competition will help you stay up to date with the latest trends. Digitalisation is making headway in hospitality too, so it pays to research the latest gadgets and software.

Hospitality 2021: The impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s hospitality sector

Lockdowns and trading restrictions have taken their toll on the hospitality sector with many cultural venues forced to close for most of 2020. The UK industry website BigHospitality reported that in the past 12 months of the pandemic around 660,000 hospitality jobs were lost and sales dropped by a massive £80.8 billion.

Outdoor and indoor services were reintroduced in England in over the last few months, however, restaurant and bar owners can expect some limitations to continue until at least the 21st of June, which is when the government has promised to lift all remaining restrictions.

How can hospitality businesses optimise their reopening after lockdown?

Business owners active in sectors of the hospitality industry should consult the working safely during coronavirus manual issued by the UK government before they start welcoming back guests. 

Here are a few ideas for your re-opening to-do list:

  • Put up an NHS QR code poster and provide an alternative method for recording customer contact details for the purposes of Track and Trace

  • Organise signage to inform customers and staff of the changing rules

  • Investigate online ordering systems and mobile payment options, like SumUp, that allow customers to pay at the table

  • Purchase face coverings for staff as these must be worn while indoors

  • Arrange outdoor seating according to social distancing guidelines (2m between tables)

Technology in the hospitality industry is helping companies re-open safely. Mobile point of sale (mPOS) devices like SumUp’s Air Card Reader enable guests to tap and go without touching a keypad. Our Virtual Terminal goes one step further—it doesn’t require a card reader at all. Your staff can accept card payments simply by entering the customer’s card details on their work phone, tablet, or computer, which makes it easy to maintain the appropriate distance.

To find out more about how SumUp can help make your business Covid-safe, get in touch with our Sales team using the form below.

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Ashleigh Grady

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