Hotel and restaurant bookings boom, but the industry tackles a short-fall in staffing

6 June 2021

Following the relaxation of lockdown rules, allowing the return of eating and drinking indoors, the hospitality industry has boomed.

Also, with the uncertainty around foreign holiday travel, many are choosing to holiday in the UK, resulting in an unprecedented demand.

The hotels in Harrogate were at one time were very reliant on room bookings related to the convention centre, but there has been a move away from that reliance, possibly due to conference delegates being more day-visitors.

The hospitality industry has certainly taken an economic battering, with many staff being placed on furlough and around 15% deciding on a different career, heeding the “non-viable” but misplaced message from the government.

  • 15% of hospitality staff have left the industry
  • Ways of working are now more resource-intensive, with the move from ordering yourself at a bar to table service
  • They have gone from 0 to 100 in a short space of time, in a way has created a shock

The HRH has the Fat Badger and the Yorkshire Hotel in Harrogate.

Simon Cotton, MD of HRH Group:

Any fears about would we busy or not have gone out of the window, we are very very busy, and the demand is there across the sector for hospitality, restaurants and bars.

It’s particularly busy for hotel, and the staycations that people talk about is very true. I have talked to industry colleagues that have taken their phones off the hook for 3-days as it has been so busy.

The problem is that we have lost staff across the industry, maybe as much as 15% haven’t come back after being furloughed. That has created a massive pressure on delivering good customer service, like we want to do.

It’s really frustrating as we have been shut for so long, and desperately need cash in the tills, and we have the customer knocking on the door, we are having to say we can’t take all of you as we don’t have enough people to serve you.

We are managing to run our bedroom operation, but running at around 100% most nights of the week.

In the restaurant we have, this week, needed to work the number of bookings strictly around the number of staff we have on.

We were fearful of complaints, but there are two factors, the customer service, but we also needed to look after the staff that had stayed with us.

We can only push the staff so much, and we need to look after those that have been loyal and stayed with us.

We are leaving some tables empty which is hard to take as a business oeprator.

The access to European staff has been made more difficult, both due to Brexit and to controls around the movement of people due to lockdown rules.

Simon Cotton said:

A lot of those 15%  lost have been European workers, and many of them have returned home, but not come back again.

We can’t recruit from Europe, and that is having an impact. Although we did know about that a few years ago, we didn’t know that we would also have lockdowns to deal with, so it has all be multiplied.

In the UK there needs to be a change to some people’s attitude to a career in the hospitality.

Simon Cotton said:

We have been calling on the industry trade bodies for a while as we need to promote our industry to a younger audience.

There are great careers to be had, but in the UK there can be a tendency to look down on people working in the hospitality industry.

If you go to Europe, you can be a 50-year-old waiter, having done that your entire life, and be a respected part of the community.

It’s a professional job and should be respected. It’s hard work, but great fun.

When you serve customers, and get it right, it is very rewording.

If you have an interest in working in hospitality, email the Yorkshire Hotel at or just contact any of the venues or hotels in Harrogate, am sure they will be delighted to talk to you.



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