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Clear vision defined at JHA annual general meeting

Clear vision defined at JHA annual general meeting

The committee would like to thank all members who attended our AGM and also our guest speakers, Keith Beecham of Visit Jersey and Senator Lyndon Farnham.  Members supported the association’s new fee structure, which has an unchanged basic membership but adds Superior and Premium ‘bolt-on’ packages which members can subscribe to, which include tickets to the AGM lunch, a networking dinner and a winter party.

For those who couldn’t make it, here is a transcript of our president, Fiona Kerley’s, speech:

“It is a great honour to speak to you today as President of a Jersey Hospitality Association full of renewed energy and purpose. I am privileged to lead a committee brimming with talent and ideas who are not afraid to challenge the status quo. We’ve come a long way in the past 15-or-so months. Towards the end of 2016, there was considerable doubt over our very existence, as a number of people who had loyally represented our industry for many years stood down and there were questions over our future resourcing and even relevance. 

“Thankfully, the JHA did not pack its bags and check out. Instead, we realised that an association of almost 160 members that represents an industry employing more than 6,000 people and contributes over £160m to the Island’s economy each year was too important to wind up.  

“Instead, a new committee was formed and together we defined a fresh vision for the JHA –  one that would ensure that our industry continued to attract talent, that our voice was heard and our contribution explained, that would promote discussion and the sharing of ideas, and that would commit to provide help, guidance and training for members.  

“As I speak at my second AGM as President, I am very pleased with the progress that we’ve made with JHA 2.0. The new committee set itself a clear set of strategic objectives, defined by our four P’s: Policy, People, Partnerships and Packaging. These helped us to clarify our activities under the overarching aim to act in the best interests of the membership as a whole.  

“And we also set ourselves a target of growing that membership, particularly among attractions; restaurants and cafes; and holiday rentals.  

“We also set Key Performance Indicators, based around reviewing and updating our strategy, working with the States to be the ‘voice’ of the industry, proactive representation of our various sectors, better media relations and communications; and our work in recruitment, education, skills and training. We were also rather keen to celebrate our 60th anniversary. 

“Reviewing these KPIs 12 month on, I am pleased to report that many were achieved. Not all, but many.  

“I would hope you agree that the JHA has re-found its voice. Part of this was born out of necessity: last summer, we were called into action when the Council of Ministers attempted to introduce an unfair and poorly researched liquid waste charge that would adversely affect hospitality by the States’ own admission. Through a focused campaign, which included meetings with politicians, submissions to Scrutiny, appearances in the media, and coordinating with other affected groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, Institute of Directors and Jersey Farmers’ Union, we successfully repelled this attack … for the time being. We expect this proposal to return and we are already building our defences. 

“Unfortunately, the Council of Ministers seem determined to undermine our industry. Work Permits, Vehicle Emissions Duty, a levy on alcohol distributors, a Living Wage and a less-than-perfect Liquor Law have all been proposed without proper consultation with us, when often we’re the ones standing in the centre of the target.  

“As the States restructures – and we fully support a more-joined-up government – there is a danger that consultation may be a casualty in the race to reform. We urge our political leaders to listen to us, and we intend to let as many electoral candidates know why hospitality is an industry worth supporting. 

“Since our liquid waste campaign, we have been the subject of over 80 pieces of media coverage, including radio and television interviews and a new monthly column in the JEP. We are also doing more on social media. We now have 600 Followers of our Facebook page. That is still modest but it is considerably more than the 130 we had this time last year. 

“Our own confidence is mirrored by a new confidence in tourism as a whole. Recent statistics show that over 400,000 staying leisure visitors came to Jersey in 2017, an increase of 16 per cent on the year before. Total visits, including business travel, were up five per cent to 727,000, the highest since 2007, and visitors spent £250 million (or more than half a hospital), which was ten per cent up on 2016. 

“Encouragingly, over half of these holidaymakers were first-time visitors and there was growth in the number of people coming to the Island during the off-season following the promotion of these months by Keith and his team at Visit Jersey.  

“Of course, there is a huge amount of work to do but we need to build on the momentum of Visit Jersey’s digital approach and the new energy that we have at the JHA. We also have new air routes, a soon-to-launch inter-island ferry service, a weak pound that not only makes Jersey more attractive to Europeans but also to Brits, a new Premier Inn, and a busy programme of events.   

“My message to government is clear: thank you for supporting our industry by investing in Visit Jersey and events such as the Battle of Flowers and Super League Triathlon. But please don’t undermine your own good work, as well as ours, by introducing poorly considered  taxes and changes that will drive hotels, bars, restaurants and attractions out of business. Be patient, invest wisely and you will enjoy the harvest. 

“Returning to our KPIs, as I mentioned, we still have a lot more to achieve. We will, for example, be a stronger voice with more members, yet we first need to approve a new fee structure that we hope will make membership fairer and more inclusive. Once that structure is set, our focus will turn to growing our number. 

“When it comes to education, recruitment and training, I will let my Vice-President Natalie Duffy talk more about our work with Skills Jersey and other agencies to attract more young people to our fantastic industry. But suffice to say, we are making significant progress and we expect our new events and training programme will also make membership even more attractive. 

“We also appreciate that our membership is made up almost exclusively of businesses yet underneath that is a talented and committed workforce. We want to offer something to them so we’re in the process of setting up an Employee’s Club.  

“Our vision is to offer club members discounts in our own businesses – perhaps a special stay-over package, or a free main course, or a reduced entry fee – not only to say thank you to our hardworking staff but also to help you fill rooms, tables and seats during quieter times. Club members will also receive a newsletter giving details of training courses and events to further their careers, and we will build up a social media forum to exchange ideas and opportunities. It is a win-win but it will require you to come on board.  

“This concept, like many others, is being driven forward by our new manager Simon Soar and at this point I would like to thank Simon for his significant contribution to the JHA since he joined us in January. With his background in establishing new venues, Simon has brought fresh-thinking and new energy to the role, together with first-hand experience of the need to innovate and think differently.  

“Simon did, however, have a running start because of the tireless commitment of his predecessor, Helen Hart, and even though she’s not here today, I would like to take this opportunity to record my committee’s huge appreciation for Helen, who did a fantastic job in her three years with us, which culminated – quite fittingly – with her faultless organisation of our 60th anniversary in November.    

“At this point I would also like to thank my fellow committee members for their support, determination and enthusiasm. They, like me, are volunteers but they are never too busy to put the interests of our industry before their own.  

“We, are, however, fortunate to be supported by lots of members who don’t sit on the committee, whether it be to address issues that specifically affect their business or simply because they want to be involved. In any association of members, from PTAs and golf clubs to Scout groups and service organisations, it is often tempting to let the committee get on with it but I don’t want the JHA to be remote from its members. Your very presence here shows that you want to engage and I thank you for your support. Please tell members you know who aren’t here to please get in touch if they have something to contribute, which I’m sure they do. Let’s make this an active, vibrant and member-led association. 

“To strengthen our lines of communication with you, we will soon be launching a new website, which will have an exclusive members’ section. This will become especially relevant as we launch our new training academy. With more of your staff trained to a high standard, our levels of service will improve, the pool of talent in the Island will deepen, our businesses will prosper and our contribution to the Jersey economy will become even greater.  

“I am genuinely optimistic for the future. The May election gives us an opportunity to tell candidates – incumbent members and first-timers – about why hospitality is important to the Island. We’ve been here for hundreds of years and our selling point is not low taxes or business-friendly laws, it is our beaches, dunes, headlands, attractions, golf courses, delicious food, weather and warm welcome – as well as our world-class hotels guest houses, bars, restaurants, attractions and infrastructure. 

“We’re on an exciting journey and I thank you for joining me and my fantastic committee on it.”

At the meeting, vice-president Natalie Duffy also outlined the JHA’s efforts to develop career pathways in the industry and our involvement in writing a coordinated five-year action plan, working alongside Skills Jersey, Highlands College, the Population Office, Jersey Business and Visit Jersey. Here is her speech:

“I’m here now to talk briefly about one particular element which is our vision for attracting talent and developing skills in our industry in the coming years. It is a vision which has 3 key parts:

  • We want to see businesses delivering a world-class service to all their customers
  • We want to see career pathways for talented individuals to embrace
  • We want Islanders to proudly support our hospitality offering

“As we all know in hospitality the hard work is done behind the scenes and we’ve been working hard on behalf of the industry to make our vision a reality. There is a lot to do but no one in our industry is afraid of hard work.

“We have started to put together a coordinated 5 year action plan to move industry forward … working together with Skills Jersey, Highlands College, the Population Office, Jersey Business and Visit Jersey. This is some powerful backing. This will result in a single vision for hospitality in Jersey that all members & business owners can buy in to and all members   and business owners will benefit from.

“Already we are working closely with our partners:

  • Developing initiatives to support training of our young students
  • Rolling out quick fix courses to up-skill and motivate our current employees
  • Promoting hospitality as a career of choice and engaging students, parents and teachers in understanding the diversity and quality of career options in our industry
  • Supporting innovative projects such as Adopt-a-School which is lead by talented and inspiring chefs and committee members Andrew Baird and Steven Smith

“We are also developing a marketing strategy to change the perception of our industry not only to our young students, but also their parents, to promote hospitality as a viable, valuable and rewarding career option.

“We will build on the work that Visit Jersey has been doing to promote Jersey as a destination and demonstrate the value of our wonderful hospitality sector to Jersey as a whole.

“All this activity is designed to address the problems we have in attracting skills and talent into our industry, but let’s face it, if we don’t have the businesses that people want to work in then we’re just training people who will move away and work elsewhere.

“We are forging a strong relationship with the team at Jersey Business who are helping us to adapt to the changes we face as an industry so that our business are fit and ready for the future, so that we become magnets for young home grown talent.

“It is achievable?  Yes, we think so.

“It is an ambitious, long-term plan and achievable if we all work together. We in this room have the passion and energy to achieve this. We all want to attract skills into our industry.

“Do you remember your own introduction to hospitality? What was your attraction? Why did you choose to become involved in hospitality?  Think back … for some of us that was a long time ago … but I think you’ll agree we remember the feeling, we remember the passion we remember the excitement of stepping into a hotel: serving wonderful food, the satisfaction and reward we felt. That is the message we need to share.

“The meetings that the JHA committee have been having recently have convinced us that our partners are as keen as we are to embark on this journey along side us and to share our vision of seeing a thriving hospitality industry.

“So, it is up to us in the industry to step up to the mark, take the help that is being provided and become a part of that future.

“Please come and talk to us after the meeting or contact us with any questions and how you can get involved …  and I hope you all enjoy your lunch later.

“Thank you.”

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