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Viewpoint: Obsession over detail stems from the top

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Viewpoint: Obsession over detail stems from the top

The very best hotels are run by perfectionists with a constant drive to improve at every level and in every department, says Peter Hancock

Like many other readers of The Caterer, I spend a lot of my time in the company of hotel owners and general managers. In fact, I’ve been lucky enough to interview some of them at various events over the years, so I have made a conscious effort to try to understand what drives the best of them and then to serve up appropriate questions. To say they are all alike would be wildly mistaken, but certain themes keep on recurring, and the biggest of these is a close attention to detail, almost to the point of obsession.

Robin Hutson, chairman and chief executive of Lime Wood Group and Home Grown Hotels, once told me that hotel-keeping is a matter of “paying attention to a thousand little details every day”, and others have said very similar things. Diego Masciaga described the delicate art of detecting whether a guest wants to engage in conversation or be left alone, and anyone who saw the recent fly-on-the-wall documentary about the Corinthia London will be in no doubt about how much time and care managing director Thomas Kochs devotes to achieving perfection in all aspects of a guest’s experience. The programme revealed he had staged no fewer than 21 planning meetings before launching a revived afternoon tea service. What I particularly liked was his thoughtfulness towards the staff, understanding that they must enjoy their work too in order to excel, something I have also witnessed time and again at the hotels we represent in Pride of Britain.

Bearing in mind how much competition is out there, and that luxury can never be delivered cheaply, those who run high-quality hotels are on a continuous quest to delight their customers in new ways. I believe this explains their desire to go on learning, even when they have reached the top and why organisations such as the Master Innholders, and their leadership training alumni the St Julian Scholars, have centred more of their own events on broadening the mind and, if you will forgive the annoying jargon, “thinking outside the box”. For these reasons I look forward to attending the General Managers’ Conference (January 28-29 at the InterContinental London – The O2) where experts, partly drawn from outside our industry, will provide insight into what’s on the horizon and maybe teach us some good new habits along the way.

To those who are nearing the end of their education and wondering whether they fancy a career in hospitality, I would say just look at these potential employers and the happy teams so many of them create. We saw several examples on the Corinthia programme of individuals, at all levels, who are proud to be part of a successful business that attracts the rich and famous. Who wouldn’t want a slice of that?

Peter Hancock is the chief executive of Pride of Britain hotels

Viewpoint: service isn’t a science, it’s an art >>

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