As the Pride of Britain hotel consortium marks its 25th anniversary, chief executive Peter Hancock ponders what the next 25 years will hold
In 1982 a small group of UK hoteliers were persuaded by Gerald Milsom to start a new consortium. It was intended to provide marketing support along the lines of the larger international groups but would be non-profit-making, exclusively British and controlled by its members.
A quarter of a century later, Pride of Britain is still adhering to those principles, even though the range of services and the demands of our members have grown considerably.
So what do the next 25 years have in store? Will hotel rooms become a mere commodity, like car insurance, sold on the day through a seamless network of inventory and payment options? Will the green lobby stop us going away for short breaks? Will the value of property fail to support investment in luxury hotels? It's anyone's guess.
My personal theory is that consumer behaviour will split our industry into two polar opposites: functional and cheap at one end, and thrillingly exotic at the other.
Expect the throttling effects of regulation to continue. Left unchallenged, governments will pile on the costs with every new law to the point where running a hotel is simply unviable. So my next prediction is that, one day, with enough pressure from us all, we'll get a minister for tourism who actually tries to help us by lifting some of the regulatory burdens and who puts real money into overseas promotion of the British Isles as a destination.
As to whether there'll still be jobs for people such as me, well, that is for hoteliers to decide. We've seen arguments for and against brands on Caterer's pages before but, in my opinion, they are here to stay, and membership of a consortium is one way to add the strength of a recognised brand to an independent business.
Of course, in 25 years' time, Pride of Britain's members may be lamenting the obscene size of the consortium and the arrogance of its chief executive. If so, there's only one thing for them to do: start another one!
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