Thorley Taverns are a family business with over 50 years behind them. They have 18 pubs across Kent and 400 employees. Like almost all hospitality venues they are facing exponential rises in utiltity bills, business rates and consummables. Phil Thorley, whose father founded the business, is determined to keep it going for another 50 years. The challenges are obvious but the outcome will be a positive one, thanks to his determination, vision, and creativity.
The good news is that there are many other Phils out there, determined to overcome the monster. In spite of everything being thrown at the hospitality sector, many venues are remaining upbeat about the future and embracing whatever changes – quick wins or longer term investments – are needed to ensure they remain competitive and profitable.
This is why I am confident that venues will survive if they take measures to secure the loyalty of customers within their locality. People will still want to go to their favourite pub or restaurant, less often, but viewing it as an affordable treat. Attracting and keeping these customers is a challenge many venues will overcome if they have the right strategy in place, coupled with the determination and vision to see it through.
Thankfully most do.
There are many other examples of venues (and brands) making profits from venues which have tackled these sorts of challenges meaningfully and with consistency. Take Loungers for example. Their pace of expansion is phenomenal. It’s café-bar group has just opened its 200th venue and has expanded its roll-out plans to 30 sites a year, up from 25. They are benefiting from changes in consumer behaviour, with more people staying and working locally, as well as demanding exceptional service with professionalism and a smile.
Similar successes within smaller independents are also well publicised and offer inspiration to other family run businesses. Many of these have built up an excellent reputation and corresponding loyal customer base. However, changes in the way they operate are still necessary if they want to remain competitive and move with the times. The reality is that customer behaviours are always changing, never more so than now.
I have seen this change at first hand. To be honest behaviours were changing before Covid, but brought more sharply into focus as we came out of lockdown. The good news is that hospitality has been quick to recognise this and take advantage, prioritising their social media coverage and associated drive for pre-booked sales..
There is no doubt that overcoming the monster threatening the future of our beloved hospitality industry has never been harder than it is right now. However there are many with the determination, confidence and vision to do so. Hospitality is hoping for more help from Government, especially considering its position as the third largest private sector employer, doubling the size of financial services and creating £ 130 billion of economic activity while generating £ 39 billion in tax revenues. Every reason for venues to feel valued and confident about the future.