Certificates, stars and prizes may not have monetary value, but they are priceless, says chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels Peter Hancock
Some years ago I sat with hotelier Terry Holmes in his office at the Stafford, surrounded by framed certificates charting his illustrious career. His only comment when I looked at them was: "They don't pay the bills, you know." It was a typically modest remark, given the huge value we all place on any recognition that happens to come our way. But he was right, too. Awards don't make us richer; they are merely proof that someone else has noticed a job well done. So why do they matter so much?
My personal view is that running a business can be a very lonely existence indeed. The responsibility stays with you even when you're not there, the problems are all ultimately yours to solve. Who is there to give you a pat on the back and say "well done"? I've watched seasoned professionals in tears as they receive a Catey; the look on their faces screaming out: "At last, you've noticed my dedication." Either that or they've been too busy with the refreshments over dinner.
There is no doubt that the harder an accolade is to acquire, the more it is prized. This certainly applies to Michelin stars, AA red stars and coming first among one's peers in a national or regional contest. I was lucky enough to be involved in the recent Moët Sommelier of the Year competition, won by 67 Pall Mall head sommelier Terry Kandylis, and watched the three finalists complete devilishly challenging tests in front of an appreciative audience. No money changed hands, but those guys worked their socks off, understanding the career-enhancing kudos such an award confers. A similar day led up to the presentation of the Gold Service Scholarship to Jennifer Santner by none other than the Queen, topping all previous attempts to show how much service matters to our business.
It's not for me to say whether my occasional outings as a presenter of awards are any good, but I can claim to be genuine in my respect for the recipients, especially those who have inspired others along the way. Having accepted long ago that my job is to applaud winners rather than be one, it has become a pleasure to witness these events. It's just a shame that in some years panels struggle to identify anyone worthy of the gong they are tasked with handing out, while in other years incredibly deserving individuals are pipped at the post by rivals who just happen to tick more boxes. That's life I suppose.
Anyway, now that the awards season is fully under way, I should like to use my remaining space here to congratulate every hard-working person in the hospitality industry whose efforts exceed their job specification, and to offer a quote from Sir Winston Churchill to those who have yet to receive acclaim: "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." Do that and the gongs will find you in the end.
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