The search is on for the 35th Hotelier of the Year, sponsored by Casna Group. Last year's winner, Craig Bancroft, managing director of Northcote in Langho, Lancashire, tells Janet Harmer how he has been driven to speak out about the need to promote the hospitality industry as a rewarding career.
On receiving the 2016 Hotelier of the Year award, Craig Bancroft made an impassioned pledge "to make a difference" in doing all that he could to tackle the skills shortage that is threatening the future of the hospitality industry.
"Being announced Hotelier of the Year was an overwhelming moment, and I felt a responsibility to raise the issue of a subject troubling all of us in the sector," he said.
Nine months on from that moment at Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire, when 2015 winner Nick Jones passed on the Hotelier of the Year baton, Bancroft thinks he helped light a touch paper. He repeated his call for action at the Master Innholders' Conference in January and has spoken out about the staffing crisis in several high-profile articles.
However, despite all the support and the steps being taken by the likes of Adopt a School and charity Springboard in encouraging young people into the industry, Bancroft said there is still a long way to go.
"Northcote is a little beacon in the middle of nowhere and there is only so much I can do personally," he said. "We are all talking about it, but the government is not yet listening. A key group of us needs to have an audience with the prime minister, so she understands what an enormous contribution hospitality makes to the economy."
Alongside the potential threat of a loss of staff as a result of Brexit, Bancroft said the skills shortage is heightened by the expansion of the sector at all levels, whether it's by the opening of a hotel at the luxury end of the market or the launch of a café in a garden centre.
"All of us are looking for staff," he said. "Across the group, we are looking for about 14 staff across all levels, from a bar host to a senior sous chef, gardeners, maintenance staff and duty managers." Northcote Leisure Group, which comprises the Northcote hotel, Ribble Valley Inns, Northcote at the Rovers and Café Northcote at the Cathedral, employs 220 full-time and 90 part-time staff.
"We have to get the message across that hospitality is an exciting prospect for young people, where they can rise up the ranks very quickly," said Bancroft. Far from being disillusioned, he is confident that the wealth the sector creates will eventually result in a seismic shift in the government's thinking. Meanwhile, he will do all he can as Hotelier of the Year to continue to promote the benefits of working in hospitality.
How to nominate your Hotelier of the Year 2017 The Hotelier of the Year award will be presented on 8 November at a celebratory lunch at Northcote in Lango, Lancashire, hosted by Craig Bancroft. The winner will then be introduced to the audience at the Hotel Cateys at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge in London on 24 November.
If you know a hotelier who embodies the many skills and qualities outlined below, please go to www.hotelcateys.com to nominate or email details with a supporting statement to Martha Allardyce at firstname.lastname@example.org by 18 August 2017.
What makes a Hotelier of the Year?Personal attributes
- Total commitment and dedication to the hospitality industry
- Demonstrates fair and decisive leadership skills
- An excellent communicator
- Well respected in the industry
- Exemplary business track record
- Innovative and creative
- Strong attention to detail
- Manages by example
Commitment to employees
- Focuses on developing employees' careers and maximising potential
- Willing to impart knowledge to employees
- Organises staff surveys and acts on them
- Empathic and approachable
Runs a well-maintained hotel that consistently surpasses its competitors
Consistency of delivery: ensures all guest stays exceed expectations
A personal touch with guests
Offers value for money
Develops and introduces new services to enhance customer experience
Commitment to industry
Supports government initiatives to promote hospitality as a career of choice and raise standards of training
Engages with the local community to promote the industry
Supports hospitality organisations and events, both personally and with
his/her hotel/business resources
- Contributes personally, and with hotel resources, to help charitable initiatives;
as well as involving staff in charitable or community events
- Has a well-communicated and effective environment policy
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