Is there a growing feeling in the UK economy that the seeds of recovery may well be taking root and that the shoots of new growth may well be seen as soon as the final quarter of 2009?
RICS announced today that “house values were on the increase”, the bank of England held the interest rate at 0.5%, car sales are improving and Barclays and HSBC announced respectable profits. So are we seeing a positive turn in the economy?
In terms of the Hotel and Leisure sector, we are noticing that for the first time in year, management training and conference bookings are ahead of the run rate at the same point in the calendar in 2008. The rolling forecast looks more healthy than it has been since the beginning of the year and rates are steadily – if slowly – working their way back to sustainable levels.
The wholly positive side to the last twelve months has been the continued growth in our Spa and Leisure business. Short breaks and personal pampering seem to have become an essential rather than an indulgence, as both business and family pressures have become more intense. The Leisure Club initially lost over 100 members as the uncertainty became reality – but with the huge reductions in mortgage rates, more acceptable fuel prices and thereby a sharp increase in disposable income for many, the numbers are now re-building quickly.
Well, if it is indeed the case that we may be on the way out of this gloom then businesses need to be prepared to meet the expectations of both customers and shareholders. Over the last year, UK industry has been hit hard, none more so than the big brands, such as BA, Woolworths and RBS – and at the same time many small businesses have disappeared, particularly those in the retail sector on the High Street. The majority have of course adapted and continue in business. They have done so by cutting costs, reducing manpower and driving the remaining individuals hard. Reducing training and development, putting a hold on rewards and recognitions schemes and expecting longer hours to be worked for the same or less pay.
Employees worth their salt have grafted, and seen this last year as an opportunity to earn trust, respect and gain valuable experience within their organisation. If we believe that we are now ‘on the up’ then our trusted, respected and valuable employees will have choices. They will be sought out by those looking for talent and possibly enticed away by those businesses now looking to invest in their teams and human resource once again.
Whittlebury Hall Hotel and Spa, as a leading Management Training Centre, is seeing bookings for just such investment increasing and a number of clients that have spent the last several months re-structuring and changing their business processes are now looking to train and develop the team that will take their business through into recovery. There are many ways in which individual companies and organisations approach this investment, varying from intensive and certificated technical training, that needs an efficient learning environment, to motivational time spent together so that a new sense of purpose and belief in the future can be shared and absorbed. Whatever the approach adopted, there has never been a better or more cost-effective time to use professional facilities to add value through improved skills and enhanced business techniques. If you combine genuine hospitality, a clear understanding of client objectives and the resources to be able to achieve those objectives then you will find yourself calling Whittlebury Hall Management Training Centre, Hotel and Spa.
Michael Stott, Director of Sales and Marketing says ,“You can not enjoy the view without climbing the hill, and businesses need to start that climb now, back on the road to recovery. They need to invest in staff so that they hit the ground running at full pace by the time the economic cloud lifts.”