Overview of the hospitality and events sector in the UK
A key player in the jobs recovery in recent times, the hospitality industry is the fourth biggest employer in the UK, while events management has been boosted by London’s 2012 Olympics
What areas can I work in?
Job opportunities in the hospitality and events management sector can be grouped into:
- contract catering/food service management;
- leisure attractions;
- pubs, bars and nightclubs;
- restaurants and coffee shops;
- self-catering, holiday centres.
Within these areas there are roles in catering, housekeeping, entertainment and management.
- conference management;
- corporate days out, product launches;
- entertainment and sporting events;
- exhibition management;
- weddings and parties.
Companies in the hospitality sector also recruit graduates to a range of head office functions such as finance, IT, HR, customer services, sales and marketing, property and legal as well as general management roles.
According to The economic contribution of the UK hospitality industry (September 2015), a report prepared by Oxford Economics for the British Hospitality Association (BHA), hospitality accounts for 2.9million jobs, which is equivalent to 9% of the total UK workforce.
The fourth biggest UK industry in terms of employment is also one of the fastest growing. It was responsible for 17% of total UK net employment growth (one in five of all new jobs) between 2010 and 2014, making a significant contribution to the jobs recovery in the private sector.
The BHA reveals that there are just under 46,000 hotels in the UK. With investment set to continue, the estimated 512,000 jobs in hotels and related services is expected to grow further over the next few years. The UK restaurant industry employs 1.5million people.
For examples of job roles in this sector, see graduate jobs in hospitality and events management.
Who are the main graduate employers?
Examples of companies operating in the hospitality industry include:
- Compass Group (contract catering);
- Greene King (pubs);
- Hilton Hotels and Resorts;
- InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG);
- Marriott International;
- Merlin Entertainments (includes Legoland, Alton Towers Resort);
- Mitchells & Butlers (pubs and restaurants);
- Sodexo (contract catering and event management roles);
- Spirit Pub Company;
- The Deltic Group (nightclubs);
- Whitbread (includes Costa Coffee, Premier Inn, Beefeater, Brewers Fayre).
However, the majority of UK hotels and restaurants are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and those that are independently owned. Most pubs and bars are small businesses, employing fewer than 10 people.
Events management companies include:
- Clarion Events;
- Live Nation Entertainment (concert venues);
- London Business Conferences;
- Reed Exhibitions;
- Theme Traders (events, corporate days out, parties).
You could work for an events management company, a venue (such as the O2 Arena), or an event supplier. Large companies, such as hotel chains and contract caterers, recruit event managers.
Some large charities have fundraising roles which may include event planning. For example, Cancer Research UK runs a fundraising and marketing graduate scheme which includes an events management component.
There are many opportunities for self-employment, for example, running a pub or bar as part of a franchise, opening your own restaurant or freelance work in the events industry.
What's it like working in the sector?
Graduates entering the hospitality and events management sector can expect:
- opportunities to work throughout the UK or overseas;
- salaries to be dependent on the type of organisation you work for;
- to work unsociable hours, including evenings and weekends;
- performance related pay, commission and bonuses in some events management roles.
To find out more about typical salaries and working conditions in your chosen career, see job profiles.
What are the key issues in the hospitality and events sector?
The BHA predicts that the hospitality industry will provide at least 3.31million jobs by 2020.
According to People 1st, the sector skills council, the accommodation and food and beverage services will require almost 524,000 staff by then. This is due to a current shortage of skilled chefs, while customer service and management skills are also in demand.
The Hospitality Guild is keen to point out that for candidates with the right personal qualities, there are opportunities for responsibility at an early stage in your career, rapid progression and a clear route to management - especially in the food and beverage industries. Its website has a detailed career progression map and information about job roles, as well as job and apprenticeship vacancies.
Not only did the London Olympics in 2012 generate £10billion for the UK economy, the government’s legacy impact report suggests that the total gross value added (GVA) could reach £41billion by 2020. The UK and especially its capital city has become a key and diverse hub for the global events industry.
Therefore, while events management is a growing career area with increasingly more structured opportunities for graduates, it is also rising in popularity, so this brings strong competition for jobs.