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What is Better Hospitality?

What do we mean by Better Hospitality?

Business success is no longer just a question of profit. As people recognise the importance of strong business ethics, the ability for businesses to consider and support both people and planet too is increasingly affecting their profitability. We have also seen how industry wide crises can challenge the resilience of businesses to survive. The success of hospitality businesses is now dependent on how well they cover four key factors: sustainability, people, nutrition and business resilience. Better Hospitality is about driving continual improvement across these four factors to generate business success for people, planet and profit.

Based on the insights of pioneers and experts speaking at our Better Hospitality Conferences over the last few years, we have derived a set of six simple principles to guide people towards better hospitality practices that turn cost centres into profit drivers.

1 Zero waste

This principle is about examining your entire process, from supplies, to packaging, to food waste both in the kitchen and at the table. It is about planning to eliminate waste as far as possible, with strategies such as using the whole ingredient with your chef designing tasty, creative dishes, or implementing a recording system so you understand what is coming back as plate waste from customers. More broadly, zero waste practices can help your profitability by allowing you to examine other business areas for waste such as tying up cash resources in too much stock and inefficient processes wasting time and/or skills. Technology, creativity and good communication can all help identify and eliminate wastage and streamline processes.

2 Only take what can be replaced

We are all aware by now of the issues of overfishing, deforestation and what climate change is doing to the habitats of a variety of species that we rely on for food production. It is, therefore, critical to think about the longevity of the supplies you are using, and how you will be able to continue using them in the future. Are your processes taking more from the environment than can be replaced? As an example, bagasse, a by-product used to create environmentally friendly disposable packaging, is made from sugarcane, which grows quickly and can be harvested annually.

3 Out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind

Some aspects of hospitality are less visible than others. For example, waste from customer plates is easily observable (before it leaves the premises that is!), whereas the waste from a supplier generated by your specific requests, or the food miles ingredients travel are much more intangible and part of an indirect cost to the planet and your business that is easy to ignore unless we make them part of what we measure on a regular basis. Thinking about ways to measure these hidden impacts and ensure they are included in a KPI dashboard representing the interests of all stakeholders including the planet, your employees and your customers as well as your shareholders, will make your sustainability goals and other measurements more comprehensive and keep you from overlooking important factors.

4 You can’t improve what you don’t measure

In order to find out what areas you may need to work on, you need to have baseline measurements for each part of your business. You also need to decide which scales you will use. Are you trying to attain an external measure of sustainability, for example, BCorp, the Sustainable Restaurant Association and Green Key? Or is this strictly an internal framework? Harry Cragoe, owner of The Gallivant, for example, uses a Happiness Review to analyse and reward front-of-house and back-of-house teams. Measurement can also include looking at the return on investment for any ethical practices you introduce, for example, saving on supplies by looking at local sourcing and consolidated deliveries.

5 Diversify for resilience

This can be applied broadly across your business, not just in terms of your supply chain, but also the people you hire and your business practices. The more diverse your team, the more diverse the ideas you are likely to generate. The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of resilience and flexibility, with restaurants quickly switching to home delivery, implementing technology to enable social distancing and becoming more connected with their local communities. While a pandemic is in some respects unpredictable, other business risks can be planned for, and building in resilience can help to weather them. To do this, identify what your core dependencies are (for example, people being able to eat out) and build in contingency plans, such as developing new skill sets, so you are able to quickly switch when times are difficult.

6 Speak up about what works well and what doesn’t

This is what all the contributors to Better Hospitality have done! They publicise their findings and discuss the ways that these practices have helped them. But if a method just is not working for you, then it is important that you are honest about this. It may be that other businesses are having the same issue, and this transparency can help everyone to further understand the problem, and suggest new ways to solve it.

Applying the principles to your business

These principles are incorporated throughout our Better Hospitality Guide which you can use for information, or you can apply each of these principles and come up with your own solutions. You won’t necessarily be able to achieve all these principles to perfection. Sometimes the available technology, infrastructure or even willingness of customers to pay will let you down. 

The key is simply to work towards them in everything you do and speak up and be honest when you can’t find a satisfactory solution. You might find someone else has discovered a solution you hadn’t. As David Chenery, sustainable hospitality designer for Object Space Place, beautifully puts it, “Don’t let perfect get in the way of good.”

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