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Mini-series - Staffing and recruitment in hospitality: how to find service staff

We speak to Richard Bodin, Director of Travel Services for MATCH Hospitality as part of our Staffing mini-series, looking at the challenges in the industry, putting on large-scale events and managing such a large time. MATCH operate hospitality events all over the world. While they have a core group of experts, they source people to bring hosts, wait staff, caterers and managers as required for each event.

In this discussion, we explore staffing the FIFA World Cup, as well as:

  • Assessing the human resources required to create a staffing strategy

  • Where is hospitality struggling to recruit staff

  • Role of technology

  • Recruitment and onboarding processes

  • Benefits, payment and training


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Programme Notes


Ryan Haynes:

Hello. and welcome back to Travel Market Life. And we've been exploring Staffing and recruitment in hospitality as part of a mini-series. Today we're going to be speaking to Richard Bodin, director of Travel Services for Match Hospitality which operates hospitality events all over the world. While. they have a core group of experts. they source people to bring hosts, waiting staff, caterers and managers as required for each event. Richards has spent the past 35 years working within the travel industry across Easy Jet, Virgin, jet two, TUI and Amman Air. Most recently he oversaw Match providing critical support for the FIFA world. Cup, Qatar 2022, delivering one of the largest and most challenging hospitality programs.


Ryan Haynes:

Hi Richard. thanks ever so much for joining us today. So, working on FIFA must have been a really fascinating project. So, to start with, when looking at such a broad program, how do you assess the human resources required to create a Staffing strategy?


Richard Bodin:

Well, thank you very much, Ryan. It's great to be on, on today. I would say that the Staffing is an integral part of our planning process that started many, many years before the actual event itself. There are substantial departmental requirements in terms of Staffing. So, whilst we have a core sort of 250 members of staff that work throughout the year on permanent contracts with match the increase of staff requirement to the point of service delivery goes from that core 250 all the way up to close to 10,000 staff. So can you, you can appreciate that.


Richard Bodin:

That's a huge amount of people to employ to, in some cases provide uniforms for certainly training and so on. And then in this particular case, bring into the country and all of the logistics around that. It's, it is a considerable, a considerable effort.


Ryan Haynes:

Absolutely. Interesting, really, as you say, you're looking at all the different dynamics and logistics required to get Staffing into different regions or cities in order to be able to cater the event. Now, I mean, as we know, Staffing and recruitment in hospitality have been particularly challenging since the pandemic. Where are you particularly seeing hospitality, struggling to recruit staff? Are there any particular areas within hospitality that are really hard to recruit for?


Richard Bodin:

Well, the match has been established for some significant period of time, and one of the things, one of the characteristics of the company is that we build very long-term and deep relationships with suppliers. We approach challenges very much in a sort of partnership mentality. And so, we were able to use those extended relationships to help bring those staff planning decisions into the thinking at the very earliest point and work with our suppliers to ensure that they were aware of the sort of requirements that we had and could obtain and access the staff that we needed for the World Cup.


Richard Bodin:

So, we've really benefited, I think, from those long-term relationships that where both sides have, have really enjoyed working with each other and, and so that's been key. But obviously, in terms of the point of delivery, we had hostesses that we needed to recruit. We had a significant amount, I mean o of catering staff, I mean talking many thousands of staff all the way through from the sort of back kitchen all the way through to the, to the delivery. And we also built incredible facilities on the ground here. And to give you an example, we built 42,000 square meters worth of temporary structures just to deliver our products.


Richard Bodin:

So, you can appreciate that takes a vast number of resources, both local and international.


Ryan Haynes:

When recruiting in the UK, are you finding that it's as easy to be able to fulfil the needs of your partners? Or are you actually having to have conversations with them to look at how you can best resource, so you've got the, the right level in order to cater for the event without necessarily the guests or the delegates noticing any of these staff shortages?


Richard Bodin:

Well, it wasn't just the UK that we were recruiting from. I know for example, that our hostesses, for example, it's 700 hostesses within our team. They came from 20 different countries. So, it isn't necessarily just the UK that we're recruiting in. It's all the way across, all the way across the world. We have not just the companies that we have long-term relationships with. We also work with a staff that enjoys working with this and want to come back when the next event is on putting to one side the sheer excitement and euphoria that you would associate with being part of the World Cup final and one of the most remarkable World Cup finals.


Richard Bodin:

Putting that to one side, I think we have a policy where we use both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards to really engender that sort of relationship with staff. So, we pay, we pay well, I think we, I understand we pay marginally over the average or the market average. We certainly recognize and reward success and achievement and we'll have regular hostess of the day or catering staff of the day or the week or the event or what have you. And we'll get, we'll put some big prizes behind those, those awards and recognition. So a and we do try and build a very communicative environment whereby staff feel that they're aware of what's going on, their voice is heard.


Richard Bodin:

So, it's as far as we can get given the temporary nature of the way we employ them. But we do work as hard as we can to ensure that, you know, that the staff really enjoy working for us and indeed want to come back for more.


Ryan Haynes:

Yeah, I mean, as, as we've seen the impact of Brexit and not being able to get such staff from, from Europe, particularly for, for some of these short-term contracts, has been particularly difficult for UK businesses. So, when you’re actually doing events that are hosted in the UK and working with those partners here, you’ve got obviously some great initiatives lined up there where you are paying above the average, and you are looking at being able to reward and recognize those staff that are delivering and performing at the level that you need them to. But, you know, I, is there other ways and, and, and other thoughts that UK companies and hospitality businesses need to be thinking about in order to really attract the right people?


Richard Bodin:

We are lucky to be involved in some headline-grabbing activities and events. We are, we're preparing now very hard for the British Grand Prix in Silverstone, for example. So, there's naturally going to be an attraction for staff that work within hospitality to be involved in such blue ribbons-type events. So, at Match Hospitality we're very lucky that our broad product offering EnCap encapsulates such significant, significant events.


Ryan Haynes:

Is it a matter as well when you are providing these sorts of staff and people resources that you also look to harness technology where possible to make those efficiencies and maybe, you know, reduce the impact on staff resourcing?


Richard Bodin:

I think there are opportunities, although perhaps limited, somewhat limited in, in terms of other industries. There's no way that I can think of for replacing, you know, a fabulous host or hostess welcoming you to a stadium or to an event and showing you to your table and so on and so on. So, it is hard to see how you can cut those down. But certainly, in terms of information provision, and booking, we've developed a fabulous website. In fact, during the last World Cup, we had 24-million-page page views on our hospitality website.


Richard Bodin:

We have developed an app which will allow customers to access information when they're on the ground in situ so they can find out where the latest parties are or who's playing at this particular VIP event or what have you. So, information provision, of course, is now increasingly digitized, but at the point of service, at the point of service delivery, I think increasingly it's, it's, it's still going to be a sort of human resource heavy requirement.


Ryan Haynes:

So, you have no place for waiter robots just yet?


Richard Bodin:

No, I wouldn't have thought so.


Ryan Haynes:

Now there's a lot of talk about the need may be for hospitality to change its culture and change the perspective on how it values staff. What do you think needs to be addressed particularly by hospitality businesses to start attracting the right people?


Richard Bodin:

Well, I would look to the characteristics Match Hospitality currently enjoys, as I said, big world-leading events that we, that we enjoy delivering hospitality for, maintaining very high standards, which means the customers keep coming back, which means that we have more events to offer, to event opportunities to offer to our staff and to the temporary staff that we use. And as I say, those relationships with the agencies that we use and have done so for decades.


Ryan Haynes:

Wonderful Richard, thank you ever so much for joining me today and sharing your insights and expertise.


Richard Bodin:

Thank you very much.


Ryan Haynes:

So that was Richard Bodin, the director of Travel services for Match Hospitality, looking at the need to staff and resource large events across the world and how they go about doing that. Please explore more of our episodes on Travel, Market Life and the other parts of the mini-series, looking at staffing and recruitment in hospitality.

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