hotel & catering

Hotel & Catering Outlook For 2022

Hotel & Catering Key Trends

For many industries, 2021 has been a year like no other… but for the Hotel & Catering industry, it’s been one of the hardest and strangest years of all time. The hospitality industry essentially closed for over a year and we’ve seen firsthand the huge impact it’s had on Hotels, Bars, Restaurants and Corporate Catering sectors.

When the time finally came to re-open (some doors are still closed and may never re-open) those that were lucky enough to still be in business faced a number of challenges with staffing being the most critical issue of all.

Let’s start with front of house:

A large proportion of people working as Bar staff, Waiters and in Accommodation come from countries outside of Ireland. Travel for the most part has been off the cards for many people for quite some time, and we simply don’t have the numbers of people available to fill the amount of jobs that we have.

What about hiring local staff?

Since March 2020, the industry has been virtually closed and we no longer have the interest from people who are finishing up in schools or colleges. This is mainly because the Hospitality Industry is now seen as a precarious one that could be closed again within a few weeks or months at best.

Looking for experienced staff?

A lot of people coming into the industry work part-time or during holidays while in college, but the industry has been closed more than it’s been open which has led to a massive shortage of people that have a year or two experience in the market.

What’s happening in the kitchen?

The Chef crisis is still in full swing, but the big issue of the moment is where are all the kitchen porters and the reply is simple… there are none!

As with front of house, we simply do not have the people coming into the country that we used to. The English Language Schools are back open, but we’re seeing people making the choice to study online. This is mainly because they can now do this from the comfort of a warmer and cheaper climate. Candidates are also realising that the salary and conditions are better in the manufacturing or distribution industry.

In addition to all of the above, many people who were only working part-time in the past and who earned circa €200 to €400 per week are now getting the PUP payment at €350 per week. So, with no questions being asked for staying at home and receiving (in some cases) higher wages, this brings another massive challenge to the Hospitality Industry.

Solutions – Can We Throw Money At It?

With many establishments not being able to operate at full capacity, it leads to a high proportion of events, weddings and conferences getting cancelled or being put off for the foreseeable future. Money is in short supply, so the emphasis is put on ‘what else can we offer’.

Working from home is not an option for most roles, so the industry can’t jump on this bandwagon. However, they can take a look at what else is important to the people they employ like flexible rosters, job sharing, or ongoing training and development.

The feeling that workers are being valued is the most important thing that we are hearing from candidates. But of course, supply and demand along with more increases to the minimum wage have also played their part and we are seeing a lot of movement in the traditionally lower paid positions. For example, Kitchen Porters and Accommodation staff along with Bar and Waiting staff have all seen increases. The new normal wage is close to €12 and €13 per hour for Kitchen Porters / Accommodation staff while Waiting and Bar staff positions are moving closer to €13 and €15 respectively.

Chefs have also taken a huge leap forward with €34,000 now being the standard salary paid by the 3 & 4 star Hotels for Chef de Partie and increases in the Commis rates all down the line.

The only place we are not seeing much movement in is the area of Head Chefs, but our Director Shane McLave believes that when the corporate catering sector fully re-opens without closures, there will likely be more competition in this area.

What’s Next?

Between the combination of an uncertain future and the over heated market that we are currently seeing, a lot of companies are moving towards the temporary and contingent workforce. This is particularly evident in traditional areas such as Waiting staff, Chefs and the emerging trends of Accommodation Staff / Management.

The industry is now seeing the benefits of having a recruitment partner that both understands their business and has the ability to flex up and down when required. This leaves businesses in a much better position as they will be more equipped to deal with staff shortages.

Get In Touch

If you’re looking for a recruitment partner or you wish to find a job in Hotel & Catering, please visit our Hotel & Catering section on our website by clicking here. Alternatively, you can email us at


Shane Mclave General Manager

Budget 2019: Why Brexit is only one reason VAT at 9% must be saved

With the Budget looming, General Manager Shane Mclave offers his analysis on what this Budget, Brexit and the question mark over 9% VAT could mean for the hospitality industry

It’s the same story every year, as the hospitality industry winds down from a hectic summer season, attention turns to October’s Budget announcement and the debate around the industry’s 9% VAT rate begins again.

So will the 9% rate be kept this year or will it return to the rate of 13.5%, which was last in effect in 2011? The speculation is rampant again this year with no indications as yet from the Department of Finance as Budget Day draws nearer.Many commentators like to discuss the ‘cost’ to the Exchequer but this is an inaccurate analysis of a much bigger picture and completely ignores how beneficial the VAT rate has actually been. According to the Revenue’s own figures, in 2012, the first full year of the 9% VAT rate, income to the Exchequer was €630m from the tourist industry. This figure is anticipated to reach 1.04bn as a result of the increased activity in the sector. The 9% tourism VAT rate has been fantastic help to the Exchequer, not a hindrance.

Since the introduction of the 9% rate, the tourism industry – hotels, attractions, restaurants, B&Bs, caravan and camping sites, activity providers and many others, have created thousands of jobs. Recent figures from the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) show a staggering 79,100 jobs have been created in the tourism and hospitality sector since 2011.

68% of those new jobs are outside of Dublin, a feat no other industry can come close to achieving. Tourism and jobs it creates, particularly in the regions, must be supported and nurtured.

The ITIC has set ambitious goals for the industry, such as growing overseas earnings by 65%. This is only possible with government support… and the retention of the 9% rate. Any further increases in costs will achieve nothing other than stifling demand and damage one of the country’s biggest employers. Now is not the time to meddle with a successful formula that has worked so well and has so much more to offer. With unemployment so low and the minimum wage set to increase further, salaries and wages are increasing meaning the industry is facing mounting labour costs in the coming years. Now, is the exact wrong time to place further financial pressure on the industry.

What many seem to forget is that the 9% rate is not that unusual and actually brings Ireland’s tourism industry in line with the rest of Europe. 16 of 19 eurozone countries have tourism VAT rates of 10pc or less, making Ireland fully competitive with other European cities. This point can’t be stressed enough considering we still don’t know what Brexit will look like. No matter how hard or soft it is, Brexit will have an effect on Irish tourism, a fact the government must keep in mind. Irish tourism is uniquely exposed to Brexit with 40pc of all international visitors coming from Britain.

The VAT rate has enabled Ireland’s hospitality industry to do fantastic things- attracting more tourists, grow across the country and employ thousands of people. For all these reasons and so much more, Keeping Vat at 9% is an absolute must.

hotel jobs

New study shows rising costs for hotels due to staff shortages

A new study has highlighted the risk of rising staffing costs for hotels as the industry faces fierce competition for staff in an economy with falling unemployment.

According to Crowe Ireland’s annual survey of Ireland’s hotel sector, the industry has seen increased turnover for the seventh consecutive year and is reaching record profitability, record occupancy and record room rates in all regions across the country. The annual Crowe Ireland survey of the country’s hotel sector said that the industry has enjoyed the seventh consecutive year of increased turnover.

The survey found that average room rates across the country rose 6.9% last year compared to 2016. In Dublin, the average room rate was 6.8% higher at €136.96. The pace of growth in average Dublin room rates last year was half that recorded in 2016, despite just 237 new rooms coming on stream. In the southwest and western seaboard, average room rates soared 8% and 9.7% respectively to €100.67 and €87.49.

Luxury hotels saw room rates rise 6.2% to €218.02, a new record. Economy hotels saw the biggest growth in average room rates, which rose 11.8% last year to €68.43.

The survey found that Dublin hotels increased their profits by 12%. Profits at hotels in the southwest jumped 17.4% on average, and by 17p% along the western seaboard. At hotels in the midlands and east, profits were 13.9% higher on average.

While this profitability is welcomed, it puts the special 9% VAT rate for the hotel industry , introduced by the Government in the depths of the financial crisis, under scrutiny as budget day approaches.

In a review of the 9% rate , the Department of Finance said it had cost the Exchequer €2.6bn since its introduction in 2011, and was now a “significant deadweight”. The Department said the reduced rate cost €490m in 2017.

Crowe Ireland partner Aiden Murphy said that payroll cost increases were the most significant threat to the hotel sector’s profitability.

The falling unemployment rate in Ireland means the premium that hotels must pay for staff above minimum wage “will have to increase”.

“There is a concern that the payroll cost for hotels, which was 34.5pc of revenue in 2017, could return to much higher levels,” he said. “Going back seven years, it would have been as high as 38pc or 39pc.”

The minimum wage currently stands at €9.55 an hour but just last month, the government agreed that the rate will rise to €9.80 from next year, following a recommendation from the Low Pay Commission. Mr Murphy said that hotels typically pay between €1 and €3 an hour above minimum wage.

Mr Murphy also said that the cost of living and accommodation in particular could push hotel workers in Dublin to move to hospitality jobs outside the capital.

“There’s a concern for certain staff in Dublin about the cost of living increasing,” he said, pointing out that workers at regional hotels would find the cost of living much lower.

Ballyfin Demesne named Irish hotel of the year


Ballyfin Demesne has been named the AA’s hotel of the year 2018.

The five star hotel in Co. Laois is a former boarding school which underwent an extensive nine-year restoration before opening as a luxury hotel in 2011. It stands on 600 acres of grounds and is home to a series of formal gardens designed by Jim Reynolds. The hotel was previously voted best hotel in the world in 2016 by readers of US travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler.

The B&B rate at Ballyfin starts at €960 for a double room, running to €1,710 for the best suite in the house. Most guests, however, opt for the full board package (from €1,275 for two people), which includes lunch or afternoon tea on arrival, cocktail hour, dinner in the State Dining Room or the Van Der Hagan Room, and breakfast the following morning.

Until 2015, Ballyfin was open only to residents, however reservations are now accepted for dinner for groups of up to six guests, who have variety of menu options to choose from, costing from €105 for three-courses à la carte, to €125 for an eight-course tasting menu.

Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, presenting the award to Ballyfin’s general manager Damien Bastiat in Dublin last night, said: “The story of Irish tourism over the last 10 years has been one of hard work and perseverance to get through the troubled times of the economic downturn in order to come out the other side as a thriving industry. “Ballyfin Demesne, with its welcoming staff and steep history only highlights the best of what the hospitality industry offers to visitors from at home and abroad.”

The other main award winners were Aldridge Lodge in Duncannon, Co Wexford (AA Guest House Accommodation of the Year), and The Twelve hotel in Barna, Co Galway (AA Courtesy and Care award).

Job vacancies in hotel sector increased 200% in last five years

Job vacancies in the hotel sector have increased by almost 200% from 2013- 2017 according to

The job board said demand for key hotel roles such as hotel chef, bartenders, waiters, receptionists, porters, cocktail mixologists and concierges have all increased hugely. Every role has experienced growth in the last five years, particularly since 2016. Vacancies for hotel chefs increased by 149 percent over the five-year period and although vacancies were down by 9pc in 2017 compared to 2016, the number remains high. Hotel bartending, mixologist and concierge vacancies all soared by 80 percent in 2017 compared to just the year before.

Ireland’s hotel sector has demonstrated remarkable resilience,” said Christopher Paye, general manager of Despite a drop in visitors and revenue from the crucial British market, 2016 proved to be a turning point for the sector, thanks to rising numbers of tourists from the rest of Europe, North America and Asia. Paye continues, “However, there is a mounting risk that demand for workers will outstrip supply, and this is already proving the case for chefs,” and he warns the growth of Ireland’s tourism industry will be “short-lived” if the skills shortages are left unaddressed.

The hospitality sector is worth €7.2bn to the Irish economy and supports an estimated 235,000 jobs. There was welcome news for the sector last week when Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys announced changes to employment permit regulations which saw the removal of certain chef grades from the ineligible occupation list. These changes will make it easier to source chefs from outside the European Economic Area.

Meanwhile, hotel group Dalata has said it expects to add some 300 jobs in Ireland this year thanks to the opening of three new hotels, two in Dublin and one in Cork. The new properties are expected to open by the end of the year.

IHF Conference- The Key Take Home Points

Not even the looming threat of the Beast from the East could put a damper on the success of the Irish Hotel Federation’s annual conference last week. Held in the Slieve Russell Hotel, the conference included a fantastic line-up of speakers, interesting insights and informative discussions. General Manager of Excel Recruitment Shane Mclave talks through the main talking points from the event.

2017 success for the industry

There was plenty of positivity new stories from the event. According to IHF chief executive Tim Fenn, 2017 was another strong year for Irish hotels and guesthouses and the seventh year in a row that overseas visitor numbers have grown. The average national room occupancy rate was 73% during the year, a figure driven by a substantial increase in visitor numbers from the US and continental Europe, as well as from the domestic market. This was welcome news for hoteliers and helped to offset the drop in visitors from the UK, where numbers continue to fall. Fenn asserted that the outlook for the sector remains positive with hoteliers confident about the future growth of the tourism and hospitality industry.

Craic alone not enough for tourism

Niall Gibbons of Tourism Ireland also discussed the dramatic drop in British visitors and said “the craic” won’t be enough to recover plummeting visitor numbers. Mr Gibbions said Ireland must hone in on outdoor activities to entice visitors from Great Britain, which is the country’s biggest tourism market. Visitor numbers from Britain have fallen steadily since the Brexit referendum vote in June 2016 and dropped 6% last year to 4.7 million visits. As a result, tourism officials have focused more on opening up ‘emerging’ markets like India and China and winning more business from North America and mainland Europe. Tourism chiefs are hoping to look beyond traditional boozy holidays and hope to win more business in the activities market. Daragh Feighery who will be opening the much anticipated Center Parcs in Longford gave us a sneak peek at what is in store for what will be a huge jewel in the crown for the Midlands with over 1000 staff in employment once the doors are open to the public mid-2019

End to the Chef Crisis in sight?

One of the most exciting talking points from the conference came from TD Brendan Griffin, Minister for State and Tourism. The TD casually mentioned that changes to work regulations for work permits are on the cards for 2018, potentially easing the country’s chef shortage. The statement was met with huge support and enthusiasm from all, particularly hoteliers and business owners all too familiar with the struggle of recruiting and retaining chefs.

Salary Series 2018- Hotel Salaries


Excel Recruitment are delighted to release our 2018 Salary Survey. Our Salary Survey covers all aspects of the Hospitality Industry including Hotel, Chef and Industrial and Corporate Catering salaries. In a series of blog posts, Excel’s expert team give their take on the year ahead and the factors affecting salaries in each industry.First up, General Manager of Excel Shane Mclave discusses hotel salaries and the effects of Brexit. To view our Hotel and Catering Salary Survey in full click here. To get consultant Laurence Roger’s take on the much-discussed issue of Chefs salaries, click here.

It’s been an interesting year for the hospitality sector in general, and the hotel industry in particular. Brexit and all its consequences, both real and potential, were on everybody’s mind. Its first effects were definitely felt with a 54% decrease in the national average of UK visitors in the last year, according to Failte Ireland. Despite this, it was still a great year for the industry with 69% of hotels and 63% of national attractions welcomed more visitors than in 2016

The minimum wage

We can see that from a salary perspective, there is not a huge difference on 2016 except for salaries at the lower end of the scale, up to €30,000. The general consensus within the industry is that the biggest challenge in 2018 will be to manage the increase in the minimum wage. The jump to €9.55 at the beginning of January has had a knock-on effect. In previous years, employers could allow for an extra 10c or 15c above the minimum wage to create more attractive packages. However this year, with a jump of .30c, this is not possible. We are seeing employers make the decision to raise the hourly pay rate to €10 per hour for entry-level positions. This is pushing up all the lower pay scales to a higher level making it very difficult for businesses in a candidate driven market.

Retention and reward

The next big obstacle for hospitality is to retain the staff that they already have in place through progression and reward. We can see that there are more and more internal promotions, allowing Owners and Managers to keep their core staff in key positions. While this may be a way of retaining staff without any immediate financial cost for the business, if not managed properly, it could lead to inexperienced staff holding senior positions, for which they are not yet ready. They also run the risk of staff getting frustrated at increased workloads and responsibility without feeling a financial benefit. Reward is a different approach that some key players within the hospitality industry are taking and it seems to be working quite well, rewarding staff financially for achieving milestones within the company, usually loyalty and length of service.



Dublin Hotels

Dublin hotels full over 300 nights of the year

There has been a call for the development of new hotel properties after a Fáilte Ireland report found that limitations on accommodation capacity in key areas are a major barrier to future growth. Reports have shown that business is strong from overseas visitors and bookings and performance are ahead of last year, despite a decline in U.K candidates.

Total overseas arrivals to Ireland from January to August show a record 6.7 million visitors, which is an increase of 2.5%. This increase comes from an increase in the number of North American visitors, up by 18%. This increase shows that North Americans have overtaken UK visitors, traditionally the most important group to the Irish hospitality industry, in terms of revenue spent.

There have been 5 hotels opening this decade in Dublin City Centre and only 1 new hotel opening this year. Property management company JLL have called upon industry stakeholders including planning authorities, hoteliers and developers to encourage and pursue the development of new hotels in the capital’s city centre.

Commenting on the report, Senior Vice President at JLL, Dan O’Connor said, “New hotel rooms are urgently needed in Dublin City and we welcome the publication of Failte Ireland’s latest SOAR report which calls for new hotel supply now.” He added, “With one of the highest hotels occupancy levels of any European City, new hotel supply is necessary to cater for the significant leisure, corporate and group demand now facing Dublin City. We will lose out on millions of spend for the capital, if we don’t deliver new hotel and apart-hotel supply swiftly.”