The hotel and catering industry is one of the most dynamic sectors of the Valencian economy, especially in the summer months, as this is its busiest season. In this context, Fundación Mahou San Miguel, which works to promote and enrich the training of young people who want to enter the sector, has prepared the first report “Trends and challenges of hospitality professionals in the Valencian Community” together with the Valencia Hotel and Catering Business Federation. Its objective? To present an x-ray of the sector from the point of view of both customers and Valencian hotel and catering staff.
It is clear that the hotel and catering trade is a profession of vocation and dedication, and although it may seem to be based solely on practice, nothing could be further from the truth. According to the study, 82.4% of Valencians say that staff must be qualified professionals and must be trained before starting work. By provinces, Castellón is where most agree with this statement (92.7%), well ahead of Valencia (82.6%) and Alicante (77.6%).
Furthermore, 56% of those surveyed believe that training should be received both at school and in the workplace, and should be updated and revised to adapt to the changes and new needs demanded by the sector.
There is a clear need to continually update educational content to encourage and awaken the interest of future hospitality staff, something that is corroborated by 9 out of 10 hospitality professionals, who value training as a prior step to working in hospitality.
In this sense, in September last year, the Mahou San Miguel Foundation launched for the first time in Valencia its programme Creamos Oportunidades en Hostelería, in collaboration with the CIPFP Ciutat de l’Aprenent. With the aim of promoting the strengthening and dynamisation of the sector through a more innovative and specialised educational proposal, in the case of Valencia it has two different itineraries: Intermediate Degree in Catering Services and Higher Degree in Catering Services Management, a modality that is being taught for the first time in the centre.
Customer service and communication, the main areas of training
There is no doubt that Valencian customers are increasingly demanding and are looking for higher quality service, so it is not surprising that they consider that the subjects in which a waiter or waitress should be trained are mainly customer service and communication, together with others specific to the sector, such as safety and hygiene in the handling of foodstuffs.
For 94.2% of those interviewed, the service offered by catering professionals is key to the image of a restaurant, above and beyond the gastronomic offer or the opinions of other customers. By provinces, Valencia (95.4%) is the one which gives most importance to the care taken by the staff in terms of service, ahead of Castellón (93.9%) and Alicante (92.3%).
The hotel and catering industry and new technologies
In the Valencian Community, 4 out of 10 professionals in the hotel and catering sector say that the sector is sufficiently adapted to new technologies and 70.3% believe that investment is the main need to achieve this.
Furthermore, 83.2% of the professionals surveyed believe that the new digital systems improve the user experience.
For Valencians, the social skills and knowledge of professionals outweigh the use of new technologies. In this sense, more than half of Valencians prefer the combination of new technologies and traditional methods in the hospitality industry, rather than opting for one method or another.
According to the report drawn up by the Mahou San Miguel Foundation, both customers and professionals in the hotel and catering sector in the Valencian Community are clear that the sector is one of the region’s economic driving forces. Moreover, for 3 out of 4 Valencians, the on-trade in the region is in a similar situation to the rest of Spain and 16% think it is better.
One of the main and most important results of the study is the high level of vocation shown by waiters and waitresses. This is the opinion of more than half of the Valencians surveyed, who believe that those who work in the hotel and catering sector are people who have a great vocation for customer service.
The main challenges faced by professionals in the sector include, in first place, the need for qualified personnel (88.1%), followed by the closure of businesses due to rising costs (60.4%). For more than half of Valencian professionals (55.4%), the current context could be a good opportunity for establishments located in rural areas.
According to the president of the Valencia Hotel and Catering Business Federation, Manuel Espinar, “our strategic objective is to continue to advance in the professionalisation of the sector. The hotel and catering industry must be socially recognised as a sector with the capacity for professional development, for the future, and we must all work together on this, from the business organisations, the Administration and all the entities involved in the sector. Training is vital to attract talent and to achieve excellence in work teams and, for this reason, it has been our priority in the new collective bargaining agreement for the coming years”.
In this sense, the new collective bargaining agreement for the hotel and catering sector in the province of Valencia establishes adequate and permanently updated training as a fundamental and necessary condition for the development and maintenance of a competitive sector and for its workers, in order to achieve stable and quality employment. The new agreement represents an important step forward in the professionalisation of the hotel and catering industry, as it aims to promote training and ensure that workers have the necessary knowledge and skills to provide a quality service to customers.
For her part, the director of the Mahou San Miguel Foundation, Virginia Luca de Tena, states that “with this first report we wanted to analyse the situation of the hotel and catering industry and its professionals, in a region where this sector is as important as the Valencian Community. We want to bring the reality of the needs detected by society closer to the profession itself and, in this way, continue to advance in our work as an expert entity in the most innovative and up-to-date training of future hospitality professionals, especially in the area of the dining room”.