This is a External Business Environment Assignment in which we discuss business environment and its external factors and concepts.
Service sector has traditionally dominated the European market. In the UK economy hospitality industry and other related industries are on the surge. Several sectors including hotel, restaurant, recreation and entertainment are contributing towards the country’s economy and GDP. The government policies and attitude towards the hospitality industry matter a lot because of their long ranging impact on the business. The business and services industry has been greatly affected by the recent developments in the social and economic changes in the United Kingdom. Various regulations and treaties imposed by trade organizations like EU, etc., have the potential to change the way business are operated in the UK. Government policies also play vital role in implementing the necessary regulations in the UK hospitality industry. This paper also covers the legal framework of the UK, and political environment in the region.
AC1.1: Analyse current government economic policy and its effect on business and services industries
Present economic policy of the UK government is largely affected by the global debt crisis. As a result of the global crisis the economic outlook has been toned down, and actual performance has shown the negative impact of the crisis. The austerity drive, which has been devised keeping 2015 as the target year, has resulted in decline in output because of steep decrease in the demand from the market. The latest budget policy indicated clear motive of the UK government towards more stringent austerity policies. The drive for austerity however is under question whether it will be helpful in boosting growth or it will act negatively impacting the economic downturn further. The government’s stand about the 2012 European Union summit in Brussels was not very clear whether it wants to move the economy forward or to wait and watch the results of the EU crisis. The unemployment is on the rise, and there is decline in demand and market output; the hospitality sector especially the hotel industry in the UK has played a vital role in reviving the employment and boosting the economic growth. However the taxation on hotels, pubs, restaurants and other hospitality industry components needs to be lenient in order to boost the morale of the people employed and invested in the sector. It will also result in high production output and hence better revenue contribution towards the overall economy. Taxation levels and red tape laws are in the need of immediate reform so that the industry can feel better in the difficult times (Lucas, 1995).
InterContinental Hotels Group plc is one of the largest hotel groups in the UK, and also in the world. The company owns and operates a number of brands across the globe, including Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn, Hualuxe, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental, Staybridge Suites, Hotel Indigo, and Candlewood Suites. The company experienced its dependence on the confidence present in the prevailing consumer market, and the resulting sentiment among buyers. The company has been trying to do few updates about finding out new possibilities in its range of services, because of the tightened consumer spending which is a resultant factor of continuous prudence of the UK economy and the government’s austerity measures. The frugality started by the government is clearly affecting the consumer’s spending and has taken a shape of consumer frugality. The company has presence and operation in several continents and countries. Hence the foreign currency exchange rate is important in terms of realising the actual revenues and profits. The visa policy for employees is also important because the management moves around the globe to align the global network of business with the parent company’s strategies.
AC1.2: Discuss income, wealth, employment and occupational distribution in relation to the provision of business and services operation
The employment scenario in the hospitality industry is not a smooth ride. The new and incoming fresh candidate entering into the sector will experience a fast paced work environment and busy day at office. The employment will come with a number of roles in the same job; the same employee may have to play numerous roles in order to fulfil the demand of customers. The customer interaction level in the industry is very high; hence it requires human interaction and interpersonal skills to be sharp enough so that job will be easier. In terms of wage and salary the hospitality sector has traditionally been on the lower side. It offers one of the lowest figures in terms of average hourly wage per employee as compared to all other sectors. However the figure is better for few companies and for a few roles in the company. Better performers and employees with higher roles get better compensation. Because of the low wage and high employment opportunity, most of the employment is part time. About 40% of the employment in the hospitality sector works on part time basis to gain handy experience at work and earn quick money (Kelliher&Perrett, 2001).
There has been continuous rise in the employment of new recruits in the hospitality sector, along with the steep increase in the number of applicants seeking opportunity in the sector. In the UK context, power of hospitality sector in terms of employment is quite phenomenal. It can be hardly matched up by any other industry in generating new jobs in the entire UK.
The hospitality sector faces direct correlation with the rise in the country’s tourism attraction. For better tourist income the tourism outlook of the country needs to be robust and friendly. The UK travel and tourism sector is doing fine even in the time of financial frugality. Major sources of income are the foreigners who visit attractive locations of the UK. The number of incoming visitors did not see drastic changes in the recent times. However the expected growth rate has been affected. There has been increase in revenue generation from the meetings and conferences taking place in hotels. The meeting industry has been growing steadily with further promise of healthy growth. However along with the growth in the industry, the competition has been rising heavily. Number of new entrants and their initial low pricing strategies has made the playing ground even tougher (Novelli, Schmitz, & Spencer, 2006).
AC1.3: Assess the demographic trends that influence the employment patterns in the hospitality industry
The demographics trend which is noticeable around the world has the capability to shape the future of the hospitality industry in the UK. The changing trend suggests that in the last few years and also in the coming years, there will be anew pattern in the demand scenario of the hospitality sector. Two key demographic trends which holds key to change the industry pattern are baby boomer population which is getting old, and the advent of middle class population in India and China. Emergence of middle class will attract new customers who are healthy in spending towards travel and tourism (Jones, Comfort, & Hillier, 2006). The new patterns will be the key sources from the East, but they will change the market perception and trends in the West. The leaders and operators in the hospitality industry need to understand the changing pattern and hence modify their approach towards the global market (Theobald, 2005).
The service sector plays a large role in contributing revenues to the UK government. Especially the hospitality service industry dominates the contribution scenario. The size of the employment contribution is also high. Employment in hospitality sector in the UK is varied and wide just like the variety of the sector itself. But the employers face difficulties in recruiting better and high skilled workers. The UK labour force also faces the problem of immobility, because of the cultural barrier. Hence it is difficult to give everyone their choice of jobs in the market. There is an overall shortage of skills in the job market and hence the high vacancies in the organisations (Blake, Sinclair &Soria, 2006; Lucas, 1995).
However the hospitality sector needs to understand the changing pattern of demographics in the market. They need to carefully observe the changes taking place at global level and which hold impact making influence on the business. There is a need of increasing the workforce which is skilled and diverse. It is very important to possess culturally diverse workforce in order to appeal to the greater customer base which encompasses non-Western lifestyle and attitude. The new employments in the hotel industry need to have culturally sound knowledge, and ability to adapt to the new challenges occurring from cultural backgrounds. They need new approaches and require different actions at all levels of service. Hence it is very important to hire employees who understand the new pattern in the global travel market, and it is critical to teach the new recruits about the changes they need to adapt and encourage innovations at work (Jenkins, 2001).
AC1.4: Analyse the social structure of people employed in a major UK hotel group
People who are employed in hospitality sector face comparatively tougher situation when it comes to social stature. The impression of working in hospitality sector and other related tourism and leisure sector is the reflections of facts which are present on the ground level at workplace. Few factors which play key role in determining the image of the work are conditions of workplace, amount of wage or compensation, social structure, amount of professionalism at workplace, and status because of the job. Interaction of the companies with each other, both within the hospitality sector and also with the outside sector also matters in determining the social structure of the employees. Employees at InterContinental Hotels Group try to compare the factors with other similar industries and measure their social structure with respect to other peers. However the company makes sure that the employees should understand the sector is labour intensive and they should not feel underestimated or develop any sort of poor image (Hoque, 1999). In most of the developing countries employees face unfavourable condition in hotel industry and the factor gets coupled with lower payment, it gives rise to lower esteem for themselves and also from outsiders. InterContinental Hotels Group makes sure to understand the social structure of its employees before hiring them. The practice is uniform across all geographies and places of operation. Social structure is the way people lead their lives differently in various social contexts. The human resource department at InterContinental Hotels Group hires employees carefully and trains them according to the company’s requirement, but keeping in mind that the employees’ social structure should not play a role in their job (Wood, 1997). InterContinental Hotels Group practices giving importance to employees by proving timely information about business performance and company’s business strategies so that everybody is aligned with a same organisational vision. Proper communication is given utmost importance at the company and employees are made aware about international customer trends and developments in the hospitality sector. It treats the lower level employees in such a way that they can develop their soft and hard skills in order to excel at their workplace.
AC2.1: Discuss the structure, operation, and influence of local government on a major UK hotel group
The major UK hotel group which I choose is InterContinental Hotels Group plc. The company follows a business model which suits its organisational vision and long term strategies. The business model which is termed “asset light” is followed by the hotel, through which it has ownership in a limited number of hotels. However the company has management contracts and franchising agreements and it has helped in the growth of the business. The business or organisational structure is to own, manage and franchise the hospitality business. The business works on the fundamental of making best use of outsider’s capital and being able to deliver stable and quality stream of revenue income. Almost 85% of the company’s hotels are being operated under the franchising model, and rest majority of the hotels are operating under the management contracts. A very small number of hotels are actually owned by the company. The company takes responsibility of the branding and marketing activities for all the hotels operating under various ownership models. The flagship Intercontinental Hotels are owned by the company, and the rest brands are given opportunity to reap benefit of the company’s management dividend and expertise. The companies which are operating under the InterContinental Hotels Group plc fall under the beneficial ownership of the group. It has hotels spread across different countries and continents, including presence in the UK, the United States, Hong Kong, and France. The company also works towards increase awareness about environment in order to gain implied benefit from its activities of corporate social responsibility.
The company follows the regulations of the countries wherever it has presence. In few jurisdictions the tax rates are multi-levelled and comparatively complicate to follow. Some local government require the hotel to abide by certain social norms in order to keep security and other social factors. Other major factors of running a smooth business are also influenced by the local governing authorities’ requirement. A number of such regulations affect affordability and availability of capital required, provision of suitable business sites, business planning and development of business under franchising and management agreements. Other factors such as market saturation and consumer behaviour also matters while dealing with different local governments.
AC2.2: Evaluate the role and influence of EU, its impact on the business and services industries
The European Union was founded to foster trading relationship between the participating members. The economy policy which is rational and helpful provides mutual beneficial business environment. The decisions are centralised through the centralised decision-making machinery, which are made for the trading with foreign entities (even in the Europe but outside the EU). Some of the proficiencies possessed by member countries are encouraged to be shared with the other members. Moreover centralised decision making power makes the lobbying capability of the EU members even stronger. The EU doesn’t hamper the member countries’ tendency towards getting closer with non-EU members in term of trade and mutual beneficial matters. However it is difficult to comment on the success rate of providing a multifaceted liberalisation by the EU (Zielonka, 2006).
European countries, especially members of the European Union are historically known for the service sectors, and advanced manufacturing sector. But the role of service sector in enhancing the importance of European economy has been seen in a number of exhibitions. The role of service sector is very important in terms of providing employment opportunity for most of the workers. With advent of EU, there has been increase in the free movement of services and goods. The positive effect on the free movement of labour and capital is also significant. With open opportunities, business and service sector firms have taken steps towards being competitive enough in order to exceed each other in terms of quality and efficiency. The service sector has benefited from the single market concept. It has also resulted in improved efficiency, more investments, reduction in cost, and availability of labour and capital.
AC2.3: Assess role of pressure groups and their political influence in relation to national issues in regards to hospitality industry
Pressure groups are non-governmental and mostly non-profit organisation working towards benefitting a particular cause of the political or social system. They do not have active political decision making participation, but they play vital role in influencing the political machinery of a country by lobbying or by pressurising. The groups are also known as lobby groups or interest groups. These groups externally play their roles in changing the policies of a government by not being part of it.
The British Hospitality Association is probably the largest and most influential pressure group present in the hospitality sector of the UK. It represents the interests of a number of sectors falling under the hospitality umbrella; hotels, leisure facilities, restaurants, and other similar organisations have their interests promoted through the association. The patrons of the pressure group are the large corporate from the hospitality industry, and also from the related but non-hospitality industries. Most of the pressure groups operate through a membership based system, which allows the individual members to represent their company or sub-sector in the hospitality industry.
An example can be exhibited in regards to the pressure groups’ role in active policy making. Action on Smoking and Health is a lobbying group which works towards increasing awareness about bad effects of smoking and other harmful health related practices. The group had long tried to pose a ban on smoking in the UK, which was opposed by the tobacco industry. But over a period of time, the lobbyists from the hospitality industry in coalition with other health advocacy groups were able to convince the health selection committee of the UK government. The results were partly shown in the practice by the British government. Recent actions taken by the pressure groups of the UK hospitality industries are towards cutting down the Value Added Tax for accommodation, meals, and tourism related services. The pressure groups have been successful in lobbying for tax changes, fee structure in some of the hospitality sectors, and rising up the minimum wage in the industry.
AC2.4: Analyse legal framework within the UK, identifying the main difference between the English and Scottish system
The parliament in the United Kingdom is responsible for enacting legal system in the English & Welsh legal system, and the legal system in Northern Ireland. Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the apex authority in the legal framework. The immediate subsidiary courts of law are divided into civil division and crime division. The hierarchy is followed by the High Courts of Justice comprising the Queen’s Bench Davison, Family Division, and Chancery Division. The bottom row of the UK legal framework comprises county courts, crown court, and magistrate’s courts. The UK legal framework is largely dominated by the practice of the English Common law, which practices legal delivery processes through derivation form former cases. There is also the Statute Law which is superseded from the common law. The Statute law is enacted by the British Parliament. Being part of the European Union the UK also abides by the European Laws. Those are already absorbed and incorporated in the British legal system. Legal framework in Scotland is independent of that in the other jurisdictions under the United Kingdom. The Scottish Parliament has right to reshape and pose new regulations in the country. The country has a Supreme Court as the apex authority. It is followed by the High Court of Justice, Court of Session, and Court of the Lord Lyon. The bottom row of the legal frame work is comprised of Sheriff Courts, Scottish land courts, Tribunal, and Justice of the Peace Courts (Kiralfy, 1967).
AC2.5: Evaluate the UK and EU legislative process as it affects a major UK hotel group’s business and services at both national and local level
InterContinental Hotels Group plc has been reshaping its operation related strategies and modifying business requirements with accordance to the UK and EU laws. According to the EU laws and the UK regulation, employees of the group have to be shielded under Working Time Regulations. The regulation has resulted in the company’s active control and monitoring of minimum rest time, maximum working time, minimum wage policy and off-hour policies (Zielonka, 2006). It has impacted the human resource policies and has forced the company to take policy shift on order to keep the organisation aligned to the regulations. The National Minimum Wage Act warrants the companies to pay a minimum hourly wage to employees between 18 to 21 years (most of who work on part time basis), which is more than the actual service offered by the employees. It has direct impact on the hospitality sector, and on the company. Employees of the company are also covered under the trade union bargaining agreement, which makes the human resource decision making more careful. It is important for the company to maintain good relationship with the trade unions and similar organisations in the UK and other European countries. The EU and the UK regulations mandate the company to have a continuous and cautious approach towards the external factors which may have adverse impact on the employment of its workers (Christiansen & Larsson, 2007; Lucas, 1995).
A major economic policy of the UK after the debt crisis is the austerity drive which has caused tighter expenditure in consumer market. It has direct impact on the company’s business and if it continues then it may pose further adverse impact on the business. Other major change is the tighter policies in money lending adopted by the UK lending authorities, which makes it difficult to get required capital for business expansion (Christiansen & Larsson, 2007).