The Office for National Statistics published a detailed report on the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the hospitality sector. The responses of 4 small business owners in the sector are below.
Kate Allen, owner at luxury holiday lettings company, Salcombe Finest: "The hospitality sector is definitely starting to recover but the major challenge for all the businesses in it is the frankly ludicrous Test and Trace app. This ill-thought out and expensive piece of tech is screwing us over and kicking us down just as we were starting to get up. We have team members dropping like flies and it is simply unsustainable. It's no surprise the app is being deleted in the hospitality industry faster than a U2 album on iTunes. Coastal hospitality businesses make between 70% to 80% of their annual turnover in the next six weeks during the school holidays. If the app isn’t abolished right now, our window of opportunity will be gone."
Craig Bunting, owner of Derby-based coffee shop, Bear: "We've reached Freedom Day but for most businesses in the hospitality sector the Test and Trace app is an outright farce. It's destroying us, just as we are getting back to our feet. While various Government schemes have provided a degree of support to hospitality businesses, the cost of the pandemic is still immense, both financially and psychologically. We now have to bounce back mentally exhausted and saddled with debt."
Jo Ferreday, director of Market Harborough-based events company, Sheer Edge: "The pandemic has changed the way that all businesses operate, but the hospitality and events sector has most definitely been one of the hardest hit. In March 2020 I wondered how on earth our 5-year old business would survive, given that 90% of the revenue we generated at the time was through corporate hospitality booking and event support services, which evaporated overnight. Fortunately, we adapted and were able to support our clients in their transition to running events virtually. The main theme in the hospitality and events sector right now is the shift to hybrid events, a model that is likely to remain popular in the short to medium term, as the uncertainty generated by new Covid-19 variants lingers."
Maddy Alexander-Grout, founder of the Southampton-based small retail business national discount scheme, My VIP Card: "I'm not sure the hospitality sector will ever be the same again. It has been turned inside out by the pandemic and it will take years for the scars to heal. Many of the businesses we support are within the hospitality sector and their experience of the past 16 or so months has been brutal. Even though the economy is now open, there is still a lot of caution among the public and this will prevent a rapid recovery for hospitality businesses. There's a long road ahead."