Chair of the Board: Letter to Membership
By: Paul Hess | May 2022
Hello and happy springtime! One year ago, as I wrote to you at this very time of the year, I was slightly hesitant in sharing my thoughts on how we as an industry were fronting the challenges of the day while at the same time, attempting to glimpse into the forthcoming evolution of the pandemic and its inevitable consequences. In doing so, I could not have fathomed the new and different complications we would face. The business and economic conditions of our industry today are unlike anything our country has ever seen before. So, here we are, moving on from a pandemic into supply chain issues, outrageous inflation, and unprecedented workforce issues; a remarkable trifecta to be sure.
Once again, we are faced with the burden of finding new ways to grind it out, work harder, be more innovative, persevere, and triumph. And triumph we will. As with the pandemic, we are not in this battle alone. We have our association and its staff, leadership, membership, and resources; all of which give us a big advantage in winning the long game. Alongside the MRLA, we must now train our focus on solutions to succeed in today’s hospitality setting. By examining the contents of this magazine, we can discover answers to help us address the issues of the day. This issue focuses on the importance of registered apprenticeships, new training and talent gathering opportunities, and ways to utilize artificial intelligence and emerging technologies to save time, conserve resources and effectively combat workforce issues and other developing complications.
Given the current conditions, now is the time for our industry to take decisive action to evolve our talent practices to systemically improve our organizations. This effort has greater urgency now than ever before. As we try to navigate each of our unique circumstances, we can quickly recognize that this effort requires an individualized approach to our specific contexts with customized solutions to meet our unique needs; a one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t cut it in today’s world. For these reasons and many others, the MRLA has launched the Hospitality Training Institute of Michigan, to complement ProStart, The Hospitality Opportunities for People (re)Entering Society (HOPES), the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program, and the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, all of which are designed to help all of us solve our most pressing business challenges related to the workforce. This coordinated approach delivered to us through the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association Educational Foundation connects us as employers to training organizations that are already part of our state’s dynamic workforce. These resources are already helping restaurants, hotels and catering operations reduce unwanted turnover, attract new sources of talent, and create diverse and inclusive cultures, all of which ultimately support our bottom line.
As restaurateurs and hoteliers, many of us have been notoriously slow to adopt new technology, but over the past two years, we have had no other choice but to dive in head-first or risk extinction. We are now reemerging as a transformed industry with updated POS systems, electronic check-in and room keys at hotels, mobile apps, electronic menu ordering, ghost kitchens, and an exploding restaurant carry-out business with third-party delivery partners. For us technophobes in the hospitality restaurant industry, the pandemic was a once-in-a-century kind of event as we learned about the value of technology provided through a myriad of hospitality tech companies including some of our corporate sponsors like BYOD and SpotOn.
In the end, our guests will dictate what we do next, but one thing is for sure; sophisticated and robust training programs along with evolving technologies are now the price of entry for participating in our industry. With that in mind, let us recognize our good fortune in that the MRLA has positioned all of us to be able to afford the price and once again win the day!
In closing, if you have not already done so, I encourage you to learn more about the different avenues and solutions referenced in this letter. Take advantage of an abundance of hospitality resources by frequently visiting the MRLA website at www.mrla.org.
And as always, a big thank you to MRLA President and CEO, Justin Winslow, and the tremendous staff in Lansing that we are so very fortunate to have leading the way for hospitality in Michigan.
With a great deal of optimism, I wish you and your families continued health, happiness, and prosperity.
Epoch Hospitality Group