York’s hospitality braces for the 2023 summer rush


Bailey McIntosh speaks to local hospitality venues to investigate how they are preparing for the summer season.

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By Bailey Mcintosh

With such rich historical notoriety and scenic attractions, York has become one of the most popular summer break cities in the UK, hosting a variety of incoming national and international tourists. However, the floods of tourists into York do not come unnoticed, and hospitality businesses are overcome with opportunities that they must acclimatise to, in order to reap full benefits.

As the students begin to filter out, the hospitality industry adapts to the altered expectations in type and size of clientele. Moreover, following the Covid-19 pandemic, attitudes towards holidays abroad have shifted and consequently promoted a surge in ‘staycations’. In addition to the temperature increasing each summer, the picturesque city grows as a choice for families, couples and group holidays – both travelling from abroad and elsewhere in the country. Across York, businesses within the hospitality industry begin to prepare for their increasing expectations of customer intake.

As with most businesses expecting a surge in customer base, York businesses are expanding their staffing levels, offering seasonal jobs and altering the division of work hours to accommodate expectations. Hiring extra waitstaff and bartenders allows businesses an opportunity to man-age the increasing demand and attain the full benefits from the upturn of trade. In addition to offering the highest chances to benefit from the influx, increasing staffing levels allows for a positive customer experience and staff being able to monitor and control the chaos of a bustling tourist city.

Some businesses begin to offer additional training to place members of staff at ease and enhance confidence in these busy months. Not only are many businesses offering training to staff in order to attune to the changes in the hospitality industry, but businesses are also aware of the benefits in working collectively to create the ‘dream holiday destination’ that is York.

As a result, waitstaff, bartenders and front of house members of staff are also trained on their knowledge of the city itself. Being knowledge-able about recommendations for what to try next is a crucial part in creating a welcoming, helpful experience for tourists. Working as a collective, businesses promote other surrounding local businesses in a hope for reciprocation of recommendations. The summer surge is a crucial example of how businesses in York begin to work together to reap the full benefits of the heightened footfall and secure a stable return of customers for the coming years.

Furthermore, managing the in-flux of customers brought to York in the summer rush is not a simple job but far more calculated. In addition to the initial concerns to rectify staff levels and staff training, the general operations of the business must undergo alterations.

As these businesses increase their staffing levels, many alter their open-ing hours to accommodate the longer periods of sun and to offer the inundation of customers a greater chance to extend their evening out. SPARK York, based in Piccadilly, commented how they’re “expecting this summer to be our busiest one yet.” As well as this, SPARK York have increased capacity of their upstairs terraces, which has now allowed patrons to look out towards Clifford’s Tower across the River Foss. Other venues like Evil Eye are adjusting to summer hours by opening past midnight.

However, businesses must be able to ensure that they have adequate resources, in terms of both staff and supplies, to meet this increase in demand. Steve Tomlin, a manager at the Stone Roses Bar, gave an interesting perspective on a predominantly student bar and how it retains its popularity to appeal to a new demographic. Opting to present itself as a must see tourist attraction with its eccentric and distinct décor, the Stone Roses Bar sees an increase in “families and couples on a couple of days break”. Stone Roses will advertise itself not as a busy, cheap spot before a student night out, instead presenting as a far more friendly spot to appreciate and admire the unique appearance. Consequently, Stone Roses alter their staff levels in alignment to the “late after-noon early evening” trade upturn. De-spite not offering outdoor seating, the Stone Roses Bar attracts customers from neighbouring pubs once the sun has started to set. Tomlin stated that the main measures taken are “increasing staffing levels and adjusting  stock levels to accommodate”.

For many hospitality businesses in York similar to the Stone Roses Bar, the summer surge is a time for calculated analyses of previous years to aid in predictions for the coming months. The build up towards the summer rush is a fundamental moment for many businesses, particularly in a city with a plethora of independent cafes and bars. Collaboration amongst businesses to promote York as a dream destination further strengthens the appeal of York as a summer city break. With careful planning and execution, the hospitality industry in York can make the most of the summer season and help to promote a stronger and healthier summer surge in the coming years.