CEOx1Day could tick the box for a Welcome Break

By Holly Addison, Head of Travel, Leisure and Hospitality at Odgers Berndtson

A key issue for the hospitality and leisure sector has long been the sense that young people “fall into it”, often from casual jobs in bars and restaurants, rather than aspire to careers in the sector. Encouragingly, it seems this may be a concern for some Chief Executives too.

The CEOs of two of the biggest players – David Wild of Domino’s Pizza Group and Welcome Break’s Rod McKie – have just signed up for ‘CEOx1Day’. Along with 19 other top leaders, they will share a working day with an undergraduate, aiming to give them a unique one-to-one experience to see for themselves how varied, demanding and exciting running a major hospitality business can be.

I challenge any student to do this and still think at the end of their day that hospitality and leisure wouldn’t be a fulfilling and rewarding career choice. No doubt, as they shadow Messrs Wild and McKie they will also notice some of the following future trends.

Welcome Break CEO Rod McKie

1/ Experiential Marketing is critical

Like other consumer industries, hospitality and leisure businesses depend on generating memorable experiences and building a close personal bond with their customers. They must be authentic, display heritage, espouse values and have a soul. They need to create a two-way dialogue in innovative and engaging ways. In a crowded market, where no-one’s really listening, this takes skill - our industry needs more creative communicators.

2/ Bring your digital skills here, please! 

Reaching consumers in entertaining and inventive ways across digital, social and mobile media platforms is a critical part of this and, here too, the sector needs to attract greater technical talent. Immersive technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, could be a big part of the story moving forward but right now few are doing much around this. Fortune favours the brave.

3/ Events and entertainment are key to the mix

As the ‘experience economy’ heats up, lines are blurring between events, hospitality, entertainment and travel – the same brands increasingly looking to feature at more stages of the consumer experience. Previously, event management might have been a career in its own right – now, with a proliferation of events, festivals and consumer experiences – this is likely to feature as a bigger part of the mainstream commercial mix for any lead brand in the sector.

4/ Poised to lead on diversity

Finally, this sector should be breaking all boundaries on inclusion and diversity – not only of gender but ethnicity, ability, orientation and class. As McDonald’s has long boasted, hospitality is a sector in which everyone can find a pathway to the top – although, in truth, they could be doing so in bigger numbers. Hopefully, our students may have some suggestions for their CEOs on this one, as it’s a high priority and key to attracting bright fresh talent.

CEOx1Day enables young people to see for themselves what this industry can offer, and open doors to the incredible career potential many wouldn’t otherwise know existed.