Robin Hutson’s social media campaign designed to drum up support for the creation of a Minister in Hospitality role in government has gathered strong momentum, securing over 8,000 signatures in just 36 hours after launch.
Founder of The Pig hotels, Hutson is pushing for his #seatatthetable campaign to help get the petition to 100,000 signatures, the number it needs to be debated in Parliament.
Launching yesterday, Hutson told Boutique Hotelier that while ‘there is a long way to go’, there is now momentum behind the campaign, having seen a 20% lift on signatures in less than two days.
“We have reached out far and wide to different industry organisations and trade associations in the sector to hopefully gain some real traction, but we’ve got to now dig deep and keep going to reach our goal,” he says.
Frustrated that the initial campaign had stagnated, Hutson engaged with a handful of management trainees with The Pig Hotels to come up with the idea for #seatatthetable, and who are now driving forward the social media initiative.
“I was constantly banging on about it on Twitter and not really getting any traction; we weren’t reaching the younger crowd,” Hutson explains, “so I tasked some of our management trainees to initiate the campaign on Instagram.”
Thanks to Hutson and his team, the petition has now reached 50,000 signatures.
Hutson, who operates the seven-strong Pig group and Limewood hotel, said that if 2020 highlighted anything, it was ‘how little the government understands the complexities and power of the sector’ and how vital hospitality is for employment and to the nation’s happiness and overall mental health.
In parliament, representation for hospitality is currently split between two crowded government departments: the department for business, energy and industrial strategy and the department for digital, culture, media and sport.
A Minister of Hospitality would be the champion and guardian of the sector in parliament, promoting the importance of the economic, social and employment contribution of the industry to society.
The Pig group currently has hotels spread across each tier in England, from Cornwall in tier 1 to Kent in tier 3, and Hutson says it’s been ‘exhausting’ keeping up with the constant movement of rules and regulations.
“The demand is there,” he says, “but it has its challenges and we are restricted on numbers which has been tough. We also have the challenge of managing the guest expectation.
“It goes against hospitality nature to enforce strict rules,” Hutson adds.
“Christmas is looking ok; we’ve had a lot of movement in bookings and the cancellation of parties and reductions in size and number because of the restrictions, but we will be ok where we are open.
“Kent is difficult because we will only hear on December 16 (if we can move down a tier and reopen) so that doesn’t give us much time to change plans.”