How flexible can the hospitality industry be during the Olympic Games?

How flexible can the hospitality industry be during the Olympic Games?

It seems to be the new trend in business brought about by the Olympic Games and the public transport chaos expected to come with it, but is flexible working all it's cracked up to be?

Well if you work in the hospitality industry then you may well think it's not. After all, what are you going to say to your guests - I cleaned your hotel room from the comfort of my own home?

Those working in the industry do not have to miss out however, as a certain amount of flexibility can be introduced, it just depends on the management. Hotels, restaurants and bars all have a responsibility to their customers and must maintain their standards despite all that is going on around them. There will be added pressures, especially as other parts of the supply chain are likely to be affected, but they must be trusted too. Deliveries may be delayed or changed due to the busyness of roads, especially in the capital, but the hospitality show must go on.

Ben Plowden, director of planning at Transport for London, said: "Parts of London's road and public transport network will be exceptionally busy during the Games and this will affect firms around Games venues and across central London."

It is important that management have contingency plans put in place ahead of the Games and that they are properly communicated to staff. Allowing staff to come in early in exchange for leaving earlier as long as the job gets down can be a good way to help them get around transport issues. This depends upon the type of role the particular member of staff performs of course, but all of this must be taken into account.

Perhaps a hotel should relax checking in and out rules in order to make it more flexible for staff, just for the duration of the Games. A bit of give and take with customers may lead to more leniency with staff meaning that solutions can be found that are mutually beneficial.

Another approach is to reward staff for managing to adjust their travel in order to make it into work on time and also allow them to get involved in the Olympic excitement too. Lindsey Venter, HR director for the Zetter hotel group, said: "We're providing incentives to staff, such as free cooked breakfasts for the early bird team, plus we're having a party room for all the team to watch the Games at lunch and dinner breaks as well as chill out and nap in if they are doing split shifts. Most importantly, we're testing our plans ahead of time so we're in a place to take advantage of the benefits the Games bring."

Failure to implement a strategy or flexible alternatives could leave the hospitality industry missing out on the chance to cash in on the biggest tourist event the country has seen for many years.
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