Being top of the tree can be a lonely place, says Pride of Britain chief executive Peter Hancock. Which is why working with peers is rewarding
It's easy to view those who run successful businesses with envy. After all, their status and financial rewards often far outweigh those of the people who work for them.
For many, getting to the top is one of life's ambitions and yet, having reached the pinnacle, it can suddenly become a very lonely existence. With whom can they confide their problems? Who else has faced the decisions they must make?
I write purely as an observer, of course, but have noticed a very positive manifestation of this among leading hoteliers.
Deprived of the camaraderie that comes from being "ordinary" members of a team, general managers seem to thrive on contact with their opposite numbers from similar establishments elsewhere. I think this helps to explain the collaborative nature of our industry and the willingness of so many independent operators to form consortia and other groupings.
By working together to some degree, managers are able to make far better use of their marketing budgets, for example, and can achieve huge savings when linked in a buying group. The relationship often goes beyond these practical advantages and leads to genuine friendship.
In terms of learning from each other, the Master Innholders stand out as an organisation and their forthcoming General Managers' Conference promises to be among the best ever. Needless to say there will be interesting and inspiring presentations on how to stay ahead of the pack, including a keynote speech from American hospitality guru Danny Meyer.
You don't have to be a Master Innholder to go to the conference, which is just as well because apparently it is jolly difficult to join. There are only about 120 of them, fewer than half the number of Masters of Wine in the world and just a quarter of the number of astronauts. What they lack in size, however, they more than make up for in shared interests.
Having attended many in recent years I can vouch for the educational value of the conference, although for many delegates I suspect the biggest attraction is the chance to mingle with their own tribe and to discover the truth about how everyone else is doing.