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A Glimpse of the Real Challenges a Venue Faces After Re-opening

Make no mistake - running a normally exceptionally busy venue in the midst of a global pandemic can be a challenging task. You might be forgiven for imagining that the catastrophic crash in business to numbers of a group of 4 here and 6 there, and 10 for breakfast rather than the normal 100+ breakfasts every day, would be a cinch to manage.

You'd be wrong. Even the simplest tasks become mountains to climb when 95% of the team are furloughed and the few of us that remain have turned into multi-tasking whirling dervishes. The phrase "chief cook and bottle washer" ought to also include security guard, bedroom cleaner, lawn mower, window cleaner, receptionist, accountant, sales-person, conference room cleaner, general assistant, maintenance person and, last but not least, and quite literally, runner.

For run we have... the sprawling nature of our venue, ideal of course for social distancing and outdoor events, is not quite so ideal from a perspective of delivering first class service and attention to detail when you are trying to keep staffing levels to a minimum. Our new job requirement should include juggling as a pre-requisite - and it has been something of a circus here at times.

Take luncheon for 4 people for example. Simple you might say... and I agreed, airily waving away offers of help from our F&B manager. "Don't be ridiculous," I told him, "Piece of cake! You go and enjoy a hard-earned rest and don't give it another thought." I was secure in the knowledge that over 30 years of experience in the business had taught me a thing or two about catering. Ha.

It wasn't a good call. That night I fell asleep on the sofa utterly exhausted from the exertions of multi-tasking the purchasing, preparation, cooking and delivery of the lunch, all in a covid-19 face mask, my glasses steaming up so I couldn't see what I was doing and making me even more irritated. I managed to use at least triple the number of pots and pans and utensils appropriate for the task and I must have walked 10,000 steps doing it too, running here for the keys and there for the oil and back again for the ramen bowls.

Our clients however, I'm pleased to say, thoroughly enjoyed their socially distanced meeting and lunch (they had 26 acres, 5 dining areas and 30+ meeting rooms to choose from) and I emerged from the battle hardened and experienced... and very, very appreciative of everything our staff normally do here so seamlessly as they welcome, cater and look after hundreds more guests.

And those guests are starting to return in numbers now - and with them more of the team that we have missed for over 5 months. And boy, I for one am truly glad to see them! And of course it hasn't all been that bad really - all our guests since we returned from lockdown have left us great feedback. Click here to take a look at our guest reviews here - highlighting why Lane End was recently awarded the HotelsCombined Recognition of Excellence.

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