Nominations are now being sought for the 2012 Hotelier of the Year, sponsored by Casna Group. Winning the award is often regarded as a stand-out moment of a career in hotelkeeping. We ask last year's winner, Stephen Carter, what the award has meant to him
On receiving the news from the editor of Caterer and Hotelkeeper that he had been awarded the title of 2011 Hotelier of the Year, Stephen Carter, chairman of De Vere Cameron House on Loch Lomond, felt very humble. "There was also a touch of incredulity and I still feel the same way at times today," he explains.
Carter's response is typical of the man who is totally self-effacing about his long record of success. In the lead-up to carrying off the Casna-sponsored accolade, Carter had been awarded the Manager of the Year Catey in 2005, an OBE in 2007 for services to the hospitality industry and the Fellowship for Outstanding Industry Contribution at the 2011 Scottish Hotel Awards.
"It gave me a huge feeling of achievement that my peers acknowledged me a worthy recipient of what is probably the leading accolade of the industry," says Carter of the Hotelier of the Year award.
"Many of the previous recipients have been colleagues whom I have admired and revered for their contribution to the industry and I take an immense pride in being in their number now. I have been very moved by the warmth of how the announcement was received by everyone and particularly how previous winners have embraced it."
As a direct result of the award, Carter has been in touch with many old friends from within the industry and been asked to speak at several events which have, in many instances, given him the platform to raise issues close to his heart. "In particular, I've spoken about the future leadership of the industry, the development of our people within the industry, opportunities for addressing skills shortages and the current tragedy of high youth unemployment," he explains.
As well as being a director of the International Leadership School, which is launching an executive masters in hospitality and tourism, Carter is chairman of Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, which awards scholarships to young people in the industry - allowing them to achieve their full potential - and is also involved with the De Vere Academies, which offers national apprenticeships.
"Through the Hotelier of the Year, I have also been able to bring recognition to De Vere as a potentially good employer - after all, they did offer me an opportunity by employing me in the first place and I was able to do something with that opportunity."
CRITERIA FOR THE HOTELIER OF THE YEAR
â- Demonstrates fair and decisive leadership skills
â- Excellent communicator
â- Well respected in the industry
â- Exemplary business track record
â- Innovative and creative
â- Strong attention to detail
â- Manages by example
Hotelkeeping skills â- Runs well-maintained hotel that consistently surpasses its competitors
â- Consistency of delivery: ensures all guest stays exceed expectations
â- A personal touch with guests
â- Offers value for money
â- Develops and introduces new services to enhance customer experience
Commitment to employees â- Focuses on developing employees' careers and maximising potential
â- Willing to impart knowledge to employees
â- Organises staff surveys and acts on them
â- Empathic and approachable
Commitment to the industry â- Supports government initiatives to promote hospitality as career of choice and raise standards of training
â- Engages with local community to promote industry
â- Supports hospitality organisations and events both personally and with his/her hotel/business resources
Social responsibility â- Contributes personally, and with hotel resources, to help charitable initiatives
â- Has well communicated and effective environment policy
STEPHEN CARTER'S TIPS FOR BECOMING A LEADING HOTELIER
â- Have an ability to enjoy mixing with people, both guests and team members.
â- Show a talent for making people feel at home when sometimes wishing they were!
â- Be skilful in developing team members, for the benefit of the organisation and the individuals concerned, recognising that continuous development inevitably means that employees move on to other opportunities to further develop their potential.
â- Have an eye for the detail and a rigid and uncompromising application of standards.
â- Be part of the community. I feel very strongly that a hotel's reputation will only be as successful as the local community will allow it to be. As well as being active oneself in the community and the industry, encourage those around you to be like minded.
â- Be short on promises and long on delivery in all your dealings.
â- Stay focused on making a profit, after all, that's one of the principal reasons we are in business. This then allows further investment in maintaining and improving standards; bigger training budgets; increased salaries; and a sharpening of mind, thought and actions in taking the business forward.
â- Be able to listen to guests and team members, using what's relevant and useful about what they say. Also, don't forget the need for quiet thoughtful periods of reflection, with a chance to dream of the future before getting on with achieving it.
â- And, not least, appreciate taking time with friends and colleagues to enjoy a glass of Champagne or, better still, a dram of fine malt whisky and chew the fat!
PAST HOTELIER OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS
â- 2011 Stephen Carter, De Vere Cameron House on Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire
â- 2010 Andrew Stembridge, Chewton Glen, New Milton, Hampshire
â- 2009 Jonathan Raggett, Red Carnation Hotels
â- 2008 Andrew McKenzie, Vineyard at Stockcross, Newbury, Berkshire
â- 2007 Michael Gray, Hyatt Regency London, the Churchill
â- 2006 Richard Ball, Calcot Manor, Tetbury, Gloucestershire
â- 2005 John Stauss, Four Seasons, London
â- 2004 Patrick Elsmie, Gleneagles, Auchterarder
â- 2003 Robin Hutson, Hotel du Vin
â- 2002 Gordon Campbell Gray, One Aldwych, London
â- 2001 Karen Earp, Four Seasons Canary Wharf, London
â- 2000 Peter Crome, Chewton Glen, New Milton, Hampshire
â- 1999 Nick Ryan, Crinan, Argyll
â- 1998 Nicholas Rettie, the Metropolitan, London
â- 1997 Peter Lederer, Gleneagles, Auchterarder
â- 1996 Chris Rouse, Turnberry, Ayrshire
â- 1995 Ricci Obertelli, Dorchester, London
â- 1994 David Levin, Capital, London
â- 1993 Ken McCulloch, One Devonshire Gardens, Glasgow
â- 1992 Dagmar Woodward, Mayfair InterContinental, London
â- 1991 Martin Skan, Chewton Glen, New Milton, Hampshire
â- 1990 George Goring, Goring hotel, London
â- 1989 Grete Hobbs, Inverlochy Castle, Fort William
â- 1988 Ronald Jones, Claridge's, London
â- 1987 Eion Dillon, Copthorne Tara, London
â- 1986 Harry Murray, Imperial hotel, Torquay
â- 1985 Terry Holmes, Stafford hotel, London
â- 1984 RamÁ³n Pajares, Four Seasons, London
â- 1983 Richard Edwards, Chester Grosvenor, Chester
HOW TO NOMINATE
The Hotelier of the Year award will be presented at a celebratory luncheon at the De Vere Cameron House on Loch Lomond on 6 November. The winner will then be introduced to the audience at the Hotel Cateys at the Lancaster London hotel on Friday 16 November.