There may be no global gold medals to be won but the industry has its own examples of dedication, says Pride of Britain chief executive Peter Hancock
Even someone as clueless about sport as me can appreciate the towering achievement of those who have won Olympic medals this summer. To be the best in the entire world at your chosen specialism, proven by such an exact test as a race, is indeed something deserving of the nation's praise.
A bronze medal confers on the recipient their place in history as one of the top three on the planet, a remarkable claim by any standards. Silver signifies being perhaps a fraction of a second behind the absolute master, while gold is that near impossible-to-reach pinnacle of one's sport.
It is very hard to equate these achievements to anything accomplished in business, where the measurements of success are far more subjective. A culinary "gold" would, I suppose, be the attainment of three Michelin stars… or would it? Some might say that having the largest number of happy customers is the ultimate dream; others that sheer profit is the only meaningful benchmark.
For a hotelier to claim the highest placing they would presumably need to achieve the greatest revenue per available room of any in the world - not a level playing field once location is taken into account; make the most profit; and receive the most exuberant compliments from their guests. A panel of judges could argue for eternity over that one.
What we certainly can see in our industry are examples of dedication, even obsession, verging on the Olympian quest. My late father liked to use an angling term to describe total application to any task - he called it "going hook, line and sinker" in pursuit of one's aim. This, of course, means focusing on the job to the exclusion of all else, which can often mean making sacrifices in terms of family time, leisure pursuits and even one's health (if you missed it, I recommend Neil Kirby's Viewpoint from 27 July on that subject).
There is no global contest by which the best caterer or hotelkeeper can be fairly judged. In any case, great hoteliers are always quick to point out that their success is the result of a team effort rather than a solo one. My wish is that greater attention can somehow be paid to the most excellent operators in our industry, be they owners, managers or heads of department, and perhaps a little less to chefs, who, with all due respect to their skill and hard work, do seem to enjoy the lion's share of public attention.
I cannot pretend that Pride of Britain deserves the hospitality equivalent of a gold medal - we are, after all, a mere support act to the real stars - but we can attempt to perform our limited role better than any comparable organisation, and so I hope it's not stretching the analogy too far to say we have our eyes on the podium, too.