The hospitality industry includes enterprises that provide meals, accommodation, and drinks in venues outside of a house. These services are made available to both UK residents and overseas visitors. While often grouped together as an independent industry, most a times there is a relationship between hospitality and tourism. The hospitality and leisure industry utilizes a broad spectrum of sectors and businesses across hotels, restaurants, travel and tourism, sport, and gaming. The most defining feature of the hospitality industry is that it focuses on customers' satisfaction. Similarly, this industry relies on disposable income and leisure time, and for this reason, a majority of hospitality business is meant for tourists and the wealthy. This sector's backbone is comprised of customer service, a concept that is shared by all parts of the industry. Food and beverage are the largest element of the hospitality industry and take the form of restaurants, fast-food eateries, catering establishments and many more manifestations. Also, hotels, bed and breakfast enterprises and other places offering to lodge represent a broad segment of the hospitality industries. Another primary part of the hospitality business encompasses transportation. It includes airlines, trains, cruise ships and the respective staff. Flight attendants and ship staff function as food servers and hoteliers with the aim of proving foods or drinks and an experience that is comfortable.
The UK is one of the most beautiful countries and is a very popular tourist destination site. The UK is famous for several natural scenic locations, and it boasts of very spectacular monuments with significant historical meaning. Since the UK attracts a high number of tourists, it also opens doors for business opportunities for many investors. The hospitality and tourism in the UK are one of the fastest growing industries, and it promises great investment potentials. This industry contributes to 3.5% of UK's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Given this massive contribution to the GDP, the government of UK provides funds to several bodies related to tourism with the aim of promoting both local and international tourism and attracting more foreign investment.
The hospitality industry in the UK involves several business sectors including the food and beverage business, accommodation services, and others. Over the years, the hospitality industry in the UK has experienced unprecedented growth. It is due to several foreign investors are keen to make an investment in the hospitality industry in the UK, for it promises significant profits on their investment. The growth of this industry is reflected by the fact that employment opportunities for graduates in the UK have exponentially increased. Greater investment in the sector has created job opportunities for graduates in the UK in diverse areas like business, managers, contact caterers, event organizers, and others. According to the British Hospitality Association records, tourism and hospitality are comprised of approximately 128,00 companies, and the industry is responsible for providing employment to almost 1.6 million people.
The hospitality sector in the UK consists of approximately 22,000 hotels, motels and guests houses in the UK. These restaurants provide employment to a vast number of both full-time and part-time workers. Also, the hospitality and tourism industry contributes a significant amount to the British exchequer. Estimation shows that more than 1.5 million jobs in the UK are either directly or indirectly related to the hospitality industry.
Due to the significant growth in the hospitality sector in the UK, the state makes first attempts to boost this sector. The government has also ensured that the hospitality industry meets the set international standards. Also, the British government also undertakes initiation of policies that promote hospitality in the country and attract foreign investment. All these are measures to improve the quality of hospitality services in the UK.
Despite the tremendous growth of hospitality industry in the UK, the sector faces a wide array of challenges ranging from economic conditions, availability of skilled workforce, competition, accessibility, ethical and lifestyle trends, image and reputation, and use of technology. The hospitality industry faces these uncontrollable variables that affect those involved in management or ownership of restaurants, hotels, and other related establishments. A clear understanding of these factors is essential as it provides those affected with an opportunity for contingency planning. Even though controlling these variables is difficult, mitigation of their effects can be done through proper planning and anticipation.
First and foremost, the economic condition in the UK adversely affects the hospitality sector. Economic conditions at both the national and global levels change this industry in uncontrollable ways. Whenever economies go sour, the hospitality industry in the UK suffers especially due to discretionary spending. During harsh economic times, tourism and hospitality are negatively affected as very few tourist travel to the UK. It reflects high losses to the restaurant and hotel owners, event's organizers, and other catering teams. A rise in the charges in hospitality services during difficult economic times discourages both UK citizens and foreign visitors to spend in this sector. Moreover, the hospitality industry in the UK is affected by changes in local conditions of the economy and other domestic market conditions, especially in the current environment of financial crisis. These changes in economic conditions may also affect this sector through changes in travel patterns, changes in regulations that influence salaries, and the availability of financing for operations. A slight fluctuation of in the economy can make individuals spend less or more in the hospitality industry. All these economic factors end up affecting the hospitality industry in adverse ways. Tourism and hospitality are often affected whenever the global economy declines.
Secondly, competition is also a factor that greatly affects this industry. Those managing or owning businesses in the field of hospitality have very little control over the competition. Competition is mostly influenced by economic and other regulatory factors. Over the years, new hospitality companies have emerged and targeted both the local and international groups. This results in very stiff competition between the service providers. Very high standards must be maintained to emerge the best of them all. This means incurring more costs by the restaurant and hotel owners. In return, the whole hospitality sector is affected. It is a fact that competition is firstly between destinations becomes obvious, since this is what visitors and travelers choose in the first place. In the UK, there are numerous tourists and travel agencies which offer stiff competition to each other, and thus affecting the whole industry.
Thirdly, the ever-increasing changes in technologies affect the hospitality industry. Globally, most sectors of the economies adapt new technological systems to improve the quality of the services they offer the consumers. In the UK, new technologies have been incorporated in the tourism and hospitality industry. Technology continually develops unimpeded. Just like other industries, the hospitality sector is affected by changes in technology. As new technologies are put in place, respective restaurants, hotels, and other service providers have to adapt or suffer being left behind regarding returns. This tends to be a challenge to many people within the industry. Friendly care to customers and efficient operations can give a hospitality enterprise competitive advantage, and improved technology allows these businesses to have a dramatic change in both fields. In the UK, most hospitality related businesses find it necessary to incorporate mobile devices in their operations as they fit their strategic vision, operational methods and budgets in better ways than traditional computer systems. Another aspect that is of alarming concern is the use of software which is used to control the tour and restaurant booking facilities. The use of technology to speed operations and gather detailed information in the hospitality industry is no longer optional in the UK. It is, therefore, clear that technology significantly affects transactions related to tourism, travel and hospitality services.
In conclusion, the hospitality industry in the UK faces a wide range of factors that affect its operations. All stakeholders in this sector should be gain awareness of these factors to come up with relevant plans and measures. Failure to this, this sector of the economy will crumble to the ground with very poor services being given to the increasingly complex group of clients. Though some are uncontrollable, their effects to the industry can be minimized or redesigned in ways that help meeting the visitors' expectations. The UK government should work closely with the relevant tourism and hospitality agencies to develop strategies and policies regarding these factors.
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