How To Run a Great Hotel – book review

12 August 2010
How To Run a Great Hotel – book review

How To Run a Great Hotel: Everything You Need to Achieve Excellence in the Hotel IndustryBy Enda LarkinHow To Books, £16.99ISBN 978-1-84528-346-9

I wanted to be able to classify this book as another ghastly tome written by someone who did not really understand our trade. However, a public vilification of Enda Larkin and his book will not be possible. How To Run a Great Hotel is a book that anyone in a senior management role should read, and then re-read every now and again.

As a relative newcomer to general management (11 years), I found it jogged the old memory bank into remembering what we should be doing more of the time. It is especially relevant perhaps to those who, like me, run smaller hotels with limited head counts in terms of management structure, assistants or human resources.

The book helps you focus on what is important above and beyond the day-to-day. Larkin advises on employing a steering, engaging and facilitating style of leadership, something I already try to employ.

It also serves to remind us that, without time spent on plotting for the future, the day-to-day could very well cease in terms of business success. But, as Larkin helps the reader plot the strategic map, he reminds you that "if your operation is based on a bad idea… then a strategic map will be about as useful as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."

As those of us who run a boutique or country house hotel know, we spend so much of the day charging around the place taking orders, carrying luggage and changing light bulbs that it can be a challenge finding the time to just sit, think and plan.

What Larkin does is bring that real need into focus. You may find it difficult to set aside the time to read the book, but I urge you to. It is a book so unlike the type thrust upon us at college. It reminds those of us at the top of our particular tree how, despite our finely honed "people skills", we can always do better.

You will find yourself snorting when he hits the nails on the head regarding issues that we all face - as he clearly has, too. It really helps that, as a hotelier, Larkin understands that most of the time we are all striving for excellence.

Rupert Elliott, general manager, Bibury Court, Gloucestershire

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