The hospitality industry is used to working together to achieve a shared objective, so the new political coalition could do worse than looking to us for a lead, says Pride of Britain Hotels chief executive Peter Hancock
Watching David Cameron's Jaguar transport him from Buckingham Palace to the door of 10 Downing Street was, for me, a mighty relief after the nail-biting days following the election.
To my mind, more years with Labour at the controls would have been bad for the economy and could have dragged Britain deeper into the hole from which our new Government is now pledged to extract us - painful though it will be for some. In particular, I believe debt reduction is vital if we are to retain the low interest rates that are so important to businesses and their customers.
Most of us are getting used to the idea of a coalition for the first time and can only marvel at the skill of the two negotiating teams who managed to find common ground where significant policy differences had been aired so publicly just days beforehand. It's really quite refreshing to see Conservatives and Liberal Democrats treating one another with respect. I do hope it lasts.
For the hotel and catering trade, though, coalitions are omnipresent. For decades there have been associations and consortia that number rival hoteliers and restaurateurs among their members. Working together for a shared objective can bring huge benefits and gives independent operators some of the advantages enjoyed by large brands or, as in the example of the Master Innholders, a pool of unrivalled knowledge and expertise.
We've all carped on about funding for tourism in these pages for years and I have a nasty feeling this will be low on the list of "essential services" as the axe falls. If so, this will not be due to complacency. Lots of the constituencies held by Conservative and Lib Dem MPs are in holiday resorts, especially the South-west of England, so they will be keenly aware of the needs of those local economies.
Coalitions can work, especially under good leaders such as we now have. And if politicians feel they could learn anything from this industry it might be the notion of putting all one's energy into looking after the customers and treating competitors as friends.