The case for 2024

Happy New Year! Most of us are fortunate to be entering 2024 in a more positive place than 2023.

Predicting what 2024 will bring is challenging – with the prospect of a general election and the constantly shifting sands of economic policy creating an uncertain future.

While the year ahead is less clearly defined than the one just gone, business experts say loyalty is one of the key drivers going forward, with companies that invest in their employees and customers destined for success.

In a New Year message, UKHospitality outlined its priorities for the next year.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said hospitality businesses will be hoping this year brings some respite from the endless price rises that have plagued the sector over the past 18 months.

What has become more apparent, she noted, is that despite falling inflation, government action is still needed to bring costs down and allow businesses to reach their potential.

UKHospitality’s three-point plan includes generating investment through root and branch reform of business rates, creating jobs through Apprenticeship Levy reform and driving economic growth through a lower rate of VAT.

“With a General Election set to take place in 2024, this clear plan will be our focus with all political parties to ensure hospitality is at the front and centre of policy making,” says Nicholls. “With the potential our sector has for growth, it’s essential we receive the support and investment needed to achieve our goals.”

According to Love2shop, 2024 will be the Year of Loyalty – meaning businesses that focus on customer and employee experience will give themselves a platform for success.

Love2shop produced analysis that indicates traditional loyalty programmes no longer have the influence they once did. According to data from customer experience managers Qualtrics, 61% of consumers base their loyalty to a brand on the quality of the service or product and 47% on the customer service support. Only 43% base it on low prices. So the impact of sales – with the possible exception of Black Friday – is diminishing in customers’ eyes.

These significant shifts in consumer behaviour will filter through to all businesses in 2024. Businesses that can offer wraparound care with tangible benefits will see real growth in 2024. But those packages need to offer real value at the right price.

Retention is still king for employers. Recruitment remains challenging for business, with significant numbers of unfilled vacancies across the economy.

Businesses that get it right will be in a strong position when the economy begins to truly grow again.
With technology paramount, AI will find its place. 2024 could be the year more businesses employ AI strategically.

The experience of the last 12 months – and in some ways the last three years – has created in consumers and workers a greater sense of their own value – to themselves, the places they work and the businesses and services they use.

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