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The Collaborative Advantage: Treating Competitors as Allies in the Hospitality Industry

There is power in collaboration.

But often, when it comes to business, there are people I know who tend to overlook the potential of mutual growth, but instead focus on the cutthroat of competition.

A New Way Of Thinking

Recently, I witnessed a profound example that just made overwhelmingly, and positively, blown away.

I found myself in the company of the Head of Recruitment for a reputed group of restaurants soon to open in a seaside city.

What intrigued me wasn't just the plan of launching a new brand but their unconventional approach towards local competition.

In an environment where luring away the best talent from competitors is often seen as a smart business strategy, this individual was making a conscious effort to avoid such tactics.

They had prepared a detailed spreadsheet enlisting restaurants from where the applicants hailed, not with an intention to poach, but to prevent any harm to the local economy. The objective? To ensure no local establishments were left understaffed and struggling.

This kind of thinking is both welcome and needed in the hospitality sector. It made me wonder:

"Can't we all survive and thrive without the bloodlust of cut-throat competition? Can we transform our industry into a true "Hospitality Family"?


This innovative approach towards competitors reminded me of the concept of SkillsSwap, a unique initiative aimed at bridging skills gaps through mutual learning and sharing.

Coordinated by Rinova and their EU partners, the platform offered hospitality businesses a chance to exchange employees for short periods, allowing them to learn and acquire new skills in a different environment.

The benefits were multifaceted – from improving service quality to broadening employees' horizons and fostering a sense of camaraderie within the industry.

Consider, for instance, a cocktail bar exchanging a staff member with a high-end restaurant. The bartender from the cocktail bar, accustomed to the artistry of mixology, acquires practical knowledge about serving food and interacting directly with dining guests. Simultaneously, a waiter from the restaurant gets the opportunity to learn the intricacies of cocktail creation and managing a busy bar front, typically outside their usual realm of work.

The bartender, with his newfound skills, can now offer an enhanced experience to patrons looking for a dining component with their drinks. The waiter, now well-versed with the bar operations, brings a new skill set to the restaurant, and is now able to enriching the customer service experience by blending the roles of a waiter and a barman.

In this scenario, both establishments benefit tremendously from the new skills their employees bring back. This transition transforms what might have been a competitive standoff into a mutually beneficial partnership, demonstrating how collaboration can lead to shared growth and prosperity.

Not only that, as talked about in other blogs on this website, training also leads to longer retention of staff.

Initiatives like SkillsSwap are not only innovative but also a testament to the fact that treating our competitors better can be mutually beneficial.

These ideas emphasise the philosophy of collective growth, strengthening the industry from within and promoting a healthy work culture.

Most importantly, it helps to retain talent within the industry, reducing turnover and increasing job satisfaction.

This kind of collective approach to progress also fosters a sense of community and family within the industry, promoting the notion of the "Hospitality Family".

But is this concept a mere romanticised ideal or a practical possibility?

Can It Be Done?

When we look at the approach of the recruitment head from the Brighton restaurant group, or initiatives like SkillsSwap, we see a glimmer of hope.

It's a hope that this industry, marked by its relentless pace and intense competition, can also be a nurturing and supportive family.

The hashtag "caring" isn't just for social media. It can be a real sentiment, a guiding principle in our industry. It is possible to care not only for our establishments and employees but also for our industry colleagues – our competitors.

This kind of holistic, caring approach will only strengthen the hospitality industry, reinforcing its resilience and ability to adapt to challenges.

To dive deeper into this subject and explore more stories of innovation and collaboration in the hospitality industry, tune into my podcast "Timothy Put the Kettel On" podcast by, which champions a more supportive and united approach to the industry.

In Conclusion

To conclude, let's remember that the path to success doesn't always have to be solitary.

The hospitality industry can flourish through cooperation, innovative initiatives, and the fostering of a real sense of family.

It's time to rethink our approach to competition. #caring #recruitment #hospitality #hospitalityindustry #family #timothyrandrews #podcaster

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