In his first regular column, Peter Hancock explains why, despite being chief executive of luxury hotels marketing consortium Pride of Britain Hotels, he has yet to taste success.
"This is the first of a regular series of columns in Caterer, so please allow me to introduce myself.
Thirty years ago I worked as a waiter at a hotel and country club in Sussex, eventually becoming the general manager there and subsequently at other hotels and restaurants in southern England. After a brief spell in the wine trade, I joined hotel guide publisher Johansens, rising to be director of the company.
Since 2000 I have been managing a small upmarket consortium called Pride of Britain, which was founded in 1982 and whose members are some of the best hotels in the UK. They are my employers.
What we do is marketing, a much-abused term that encompasses advertising, promotions, representation on global distribution systems, online booking, printing and distribution, sales visits, direct mail, website optimisation, telephone reservations, PR, exhibitions and more. Everybody is an expert on the subject these days, though few can explain clearly the difference between marketing and sales.
I realised long ago that there is no such thing as succeeding in marketing because the job is never completed - you devise initiatives, try them out, then improve or abandon them like a gardener constantly nurturing plants and banishing weeds.
Measuring results is critical in today's harsh business climate and technology has made it possible to track almost everything in stark detail. But the struggle continues, because for every piece of progress there's a question: "Isn't August a bit late to be promoting Christmas?" or "Why are we only number two in a Google search for ‘costly hotels in Dreamsville'?" You can't win.
That is why I'm so lucky to be working for hoteliers with a broader outlook - who know the value of exposure and branding and who regard tracked sales as the icing on the cake.
Winston Churchill said: "Success is the art of moving from one failure to another, with no loss of enthusiasm." On that basis, I count myself very successful indeed."