– Marisa Bidois
As we step into the year 2024, we do so with cautious optimism. Our industry is no stranger to change, and the coming year promises a mix of opportunities and challenges.
In 2023, our industry marked a momentous milestone with the establishment of a dedicated Hospitality Minister—an accomplishment that fills me with particular pride. At the Restaurant Association, we tirelessly advocated for this change over several years, and witnessing it finally come to fruition is truly gratifying. We believe that this development is of utmost significance, as it cements our industry’s permanent place in the Government’s narrative. We are optimistic that this newfound influence will lead to positive changes that benefit our industry as a whole, enabling us to drive meaningful improvements for the betterment of all involved.
Along with this major milestone achievement, we also see the reinstatement of 90-day trial periods, and the repeal of the Fair Pay Agreements. These changes have brought much needed optimism for our businesses.
Nonetheless, it was also a year marked by substantial cost-of-living challenges. Coupled with adverse weather conditions that severely impacted various regions in the North Island, these factors presented formidable hurdles for our industry to overcome.
Looking at the economic landscape, we are seeing five key risk areas: inflation, fiscal policy, population growth, the housing market, and geopolitics. Encouragingly, experts forecast a gradual decline in inflation. This reduction is expected to ease the financial burden on households, which has historically resulted in increased patronage at our establishments.
Turning to regulatory changes, two significant have happened. First, Trial Periods will are accessible to all. Second, the unwinding of Fair Pay Agreements will provide another welcome respite for our businesses.
Visitor numbers are also expected to continue their growth trajectory, but not at the rate that has been predicted previously. However, it will still increase, and this trend not only benefits our industry but also bolsters the overall economy. As tourists flock to our beautiful country, our members across the nation are poised to showcase the diversity and excellence of Aotearoa’s culinary scene.
Despite ongoing skills shortages, our recent surveys suggests that the severity of this issue has lessened compared to recent years. However, it is still an area for us to focus on and to address this challenge, we must persist in developing our workforce through training and development programmes. The Restaurant Association remains steadfast in its commitment to working with our members to find innovative solutions and bridge the skills gap. Investing in our workforce is pivotal to delivering exceptional dining experiences.
Profitability remains a central focus for our industry. After enduring some of the toughest years on record, it is imperative that our businesses continue to review their systems and processes vigilantly. Many have persevered through trying times, and the upcoming year presents an opportunity to rebuild and ensure sustainability. The Restaurant Association is dedicated to providing support and resources to help our members flourish.
2024 holds promise and potential for the restaurant industry, along with its fair share of challenges. We must remain adaptable, responsive to change, and committed to delivering the exceptional dining experiences our customers have come to expect. By seizing opportunities and collaborating, we can surmount obstacles and guarantee a prosperous year for our industry.
Our focus continues to be on working collaboratively to pathways for rebuilding, developing resilience and repositioning the hospitality sector for the future.
Our industry is generating annual sales in excess of $15 billion (year end September 2023) and employing more than 145,000 people, across 19,500 businesses.
We remain committed to continuity planning and business resilience, to help members develop strategies through our support, services, tools and training to build their resilience.
The Association itself is not immune to the challenges our industry is facing and we work hard as a team to try and balance this as much as possible. The Restaurant Association has already set out our vision for the future and how we can get there, in our Future of Hospitality Roadmap, which we continue to use as a guiding document to map out our priorities. We want out sector to be seen as a national leader: providing better, skilled workforces, sustainable and safer workplaces, more adequate resources and investment, to ensure a well-rounded, productive sector that provides a growth story for the wider New Zealand economy.
Skills shortages continue to plague the industry, however this has softened in our last member survey. However, this is will still be a key area to focus on for the Association in 2024 as we know this will continue. With that in mind we are continuing our key work in these areas, including Hospo Start, our industry accreditation programme, HospoCred and our professional development training.
In 2024 we know there will still be challenges on the horizon but at the Restaurant Association we are optimistic that the economy will start to pick up and we will start to see solid trade in our sector and continued growth. We have increased our voice and influence greatly over the last few years and we are in a good position to assist members through whatever challenges may be around the corner.