Working in hospitality is perceived very differently around the world. Having operated in both Australia and New Zealand, have you experienced any major differences in attitudes towards the industry in the two countries? And does this affect recruitment and retention?
Apart from the top tier of New Zealand restaurants, working in hospitality is still very much considered a transitional role for the majority for our workforce. Unfortunately, that often means staff are not as engaged as they would be, if this wasn’t the case. Fortunately, this is not the case in Australia, so it has a much stronger, professional and passionately engaged workforce.
I truly believe that New Zealand could be a world leader in hospitality – I believe we need to review the education around it, make it more accessible and give people a reason to feel proud and respected to work in a service industry… THEN we will get the results.
The hospitality business is as old as time, but the casual dining sector in particular has seen a really positive transformation in the past decade. Are you witnessing changes in customer attitudes and behaviour as younger generations increase their spending power?
I think the increase in casual dining, through its value proposition, opened the doors of an all encompassing dining experience to many walks of life, both young and old – and I love that more than anything. One of our top three focuses when we opened Burger Burger was to provide table service at a price point that almost anyone could afford. I think that any occasion when we can be entertained and cooked for, whilst spending time with the people we love in our life, can only make our lives more positive!
You’ve already achieved a huge amount during your career – tell us about some of your favourite/biggest milestones?
There are too many! My favourite moments are when someone’s face lights up, and they share a story of an occasion at Burger Burger that has clearly meant something special to them… At the end of the day that’s what I work for and why I make sure I am surrounded by good people who are clever and just as passionate about delivering great hospitality experiences – no matter what.
Do you have a vision for the future of the hospitality industry? Or at least, for your part of the industry?
YES! My dream is that our industry becomes the #1 go-to for young Kiwis looking for a job, either as a short-term or long-term career, because they know it will provide them with invaluable life skills, enriching relationships and personal growth through the selfless act of service.