Brexit impact on UK hospitality and events industry – the good and the not so good

Key findings of a second annual Brexit survey on the events and hospitality industry have just been released. Some of the news is good and some not so much.

The impact of Brexit on recruitment in the UK hospitality and events industry is increasing but its influence on business in the sector generally has apparently reduced in the last 12 months.

Major impact on recruitment

A year ago, on the first anniversary of the referendum, only 2.3 percent of respondents said that Brexit had had a major impact on recruitment. 12 months later that figure has risen to 9.6 percent. Those saying that it has had little effect have increased from 17.4 percent to 23.1 percent while the proportion of members seeing no impact on recruitment has correspondingly gone down from 80.3 percent to 67.3 percent.

Similarly, 13.5 percent report that Brexit has had a much greater impact on recruitment in the last 12 months and 7.7 percent slightly more effect, with 71.2 percent saying the consequences have stayed the same and 7.6 percent seeing less impact.

When asked which positions are proving challenging to fill, 90.6 percent say entry level posts, 62.5 percent are having difficulty with middle level roles and 56.2 percent report problems filling senior positions. However as yet 86.3 percent of organizations have not changed their recruitment policy since the Referendum vote.

Juliet Price, Consultant Executive Director of the HBAA and a member of the Event Industry Board’s Talent Taskforce commented: “These results give a clear picture of the growing issue that the industry is facing and why the Talent Taskforce initiative to provide evidence to government and secure support in addressing the potential consequences is vital and urgent.”

Impact on business

Considering whether Brexit has had a noticeable impact on their business as a whole, 57.7 percent now say it has had no impact, up from 47.7 percent a year ago. The number saying that it has had a significant impact has gone down from 7.0 percent to 5.8 percent while those saying it has had a slight effect have declined from 45.3 percent to 36.5 percent. 20.2 percent say that the Brexit impact has increased in the last year, 63.5 percent report that it has been the same and 15.3 percent have noticed less effect.

Louise Goalen, Chair of HBAA, the organization that conducted the survey, says: “The consensus among members commenting on these trends is that the immediate impact two years ago was a rise in costs due to the significant drop in sterling, and a more cautious attitude among clients towards booking events. Over the last 12 months these challenges seem to have settled down slightly and businesses have adjusted. Now everyone is warily waiting to see what happens next. It will be fascinating to see what everyone thinks 12 months from now when we will have been out for three months!”