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Front and centre


Research by employment group Manpower has revealed four in five businesses are struggling to fill vacancies because of a lack of skilled workers and UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls says recruitment continues to be a key challenge for the industry.

“It is a challenge,” admits Angelico, “and it’s precisely why we approach recruitment differently by expanding our search beyond individuals with a background solely in hotels or hospitality. We embrace a broader perspective, exploring candidates from the arts and neurodiversity community, which helps to create an authentic environment.”

Bennett Hay emphasises the opportunity to work regular hours in a sector which usually requires unsociable hours.

Says Watts: “We promote the fact that – unlike a hotel or restaurant – we are very much 9-5:30 and weekdays. It’s led us to attracting top talent from five-star hotels and big-name restaurants who love the premise of the service industry but who want time to enjoy their family life with a more regular working week.”

For its part Portico recently launched an enhanced employee benefits scheme, designed to reward success and place the wellbeing and satisfaction of team members at the heart of the business. The first phase of the scheme includes access to enhanced health and wellbeing services, nutritional and mental health consultations, and a cycle to work scheme.

“This is as well as a paid charity day to support causes close to employees’ hearts, gym membership discounts, and free opportunities for learning and development available to all staff,” says Saez.

Customer facing roles can be challenging advises Perry: “So it takes someone with the right attitude who understands that service in the workplace is more important than ever before. To remedy this, FOH employers need to create a positive working environment that prioritises wellbeing, culture and an appealing career trajectory. Front-of-house employers should work harder to highlight career development and upskilling opportunities.”


Devices that track footfall from workers, guests, contractors, and suppliers as they enter and leave a site took off over COVID, so it’s no surprise that technology is playing an increasing important role in FOH services. According to Watts it’s part of the reason Bennett Hay has partnered with Lolly to enhance, develop, and create bespoke client front of house experiences.

“With Visitor Management Systems we can log visitor details, print badges and have real-time information of who is in the building at any given time,” she says. “This helps us ensure we’ve planned the right amount of support such as catering to meet demand. We’re also working to support clients with mobile apps which can enable meeting room reservations, service requests for food and drink, as well as be the focal point for extra-curricular workplace activities such as classes, talks and employee experiences.”

Perry believes the use of AI to understand office space is something we’ll be seeing more of. “Its capabilities will help with optimising office space allocation, schedules, and maintenance needs and could be key to enhancing the front of house experience.”

Portico’ uses an IT solution and services provider transACT, as an advanced visitor management system that streamlines the guest check-in process to enhance security measures, simplify automatic check-in procedures, handle a smart locker system and ensure efficient handling of visitor data.

To help enhance the client experience Portico Pulse is a digital hub that provides an extensive online catalogue of partners that offer on-site experiences across six categories including wellbeing, food and drink experiences, retail pop-ups, and charity and community.

Says Saez: “The hub, open exclusively for Portico clients, was created to stimulate footfall into offices and enables the company’s guest services teams to go beyond providing a wonderful welcome to becoming social organisers generating shared collaborative and creative experiences that transcend the workplace.”

Angelico discloses that the inconsistent habit of users registering their guests is an issue the FOH sector faces regularly and believes this requires a cultural shift to ensure that this process becomes ingrained. However, she says the latest tech is proving invaluable when it comes to training.

“We use an online platform called Synergy to aid our team training, offering concise sessions that are completed in less than five minutes. Gone are the days of enduring lengthy, tedious training sessions that drain enthusiasm. This tech-enabled training allows us to collaborate with our geographically dispersed team effectively. It fosters knowledge sharing, encourages collaboration, and fuels innovation, enhancing the overall experience for everyone involved.”

About Sarah OBeirne

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