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Published: 25 January 2018

Engaging Surrey-led workshop at HOSPACE 2017

School of Hospitality and Tourism Management leads insightful workshop dispelling the myths about the impacts of the EU referendum on hotel staffing.

Since Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016, there have been a number of alarming news stories in leading tabloids and broadsheets about how it has affected the hospitality sector, particularly in regards to employment.

With headlines like “Brexit could tip us over the edge” and “Brexit: Restaurants and hotels feel the pinch as EU workers leave the UK”, there has been lots of speculation about the impacts of Brexit, but what are the facts?

Exploring the stats

Professor Andrew Lockwood of the University of Surrey teamed up with Professor Chris Cowls of Eproductive to analyse statistics over the past two years to explore hotel employment trends and dispel some of these myths. They presented their findings at their workshop ‘Lies, damn lies and (Brexit) statistics’ at the HOSPACE 2017 convention on 2 November at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. The annual convention is hosted by HOSPA, the UK's leading educatioal organisation for professionals involved in financial engagement, revenue management and IT within the hospitality industry.

Lockwood and Cowls' research found that since the referendum the number of hours worked by UK employees had gone down, in addition to the number of UK employees, while labour from the EU was up and the number of hours EU labour had worked was up. Their research also showed that productivity in the hospitality sector has improved over the past two years, with hotel revenue going up but the number of hours worked going down. Lockwood and Cowls concluded that the four hotel chains they investigated rely heavily on EU employees for nearly one third of hours worked, and that replacing them will be a difficult task.

A successful workshop

The workshop was attended by 25-30 delegates and stimulated a lot of discussion, which resulted in the workshop running over time. Lockwood and Cowls' findings have since been reported in Hotel Analyst and on the HOSPA blog.

Aside from Brexit, other hot topics at the conference were technology, cyber security and employment pay, and overall the event was attended by 500 delegates. Next year’s conference will also take place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel on 1 November 2018.

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