One of the best things about the hotel sector is our willingness to see and help others achieve. Long may it continue, says Peter Hancock
A t the Pride of Britain's annual conference a few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to be joined by Fiona Duncan, a leading writer on hotels for The Sunday Telegraph for many years. When I asked her if she had a favourite hotel, she cited several contenders, but singled out one, Hambleton Hall, which triggered instant, warm applause for the hotel's general manager, Chris Hurst, from everyone in the room.
It is just one of thousands of examples of the generosity of spirit among hoteliers; a desire for their competitors to succeed almost as strongly held as their own ambition in that regard.
Naturally, this tendency is most apparent within an intimate grouping such as a marketing consortium like ours, but you can see it more widely if you go to the Independent Hotel Show, Hospace or any of the events organised by The Caterer, among others.
This month we can expect senior managers from around the UK to descend upon the London Hilton Bankside for the Hotel Leadership Conference, organised by the Master Innholders. I have a small supporting role in the proceedings, so have seen the trouble and care they take to ensure the programme is relevant for today while very much concentrating on the future.
What is especially striking is that almost everyone involved in putting this event together is doing so for no financial reward. In fact, the organisation itself, the Master Innholders, uses the conference to raise money that is then spent on leadership training opportunities for the general managers of tomorrow. The whole thing is therefore an exercise in helping others to succeed. It is hard to think of any other industry in which leading practitioners go to such lengths to assist their peers.
One of the speakers will be Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, who you will know has quickly become a powerful champion for hoteliers and caterers by showing politicians how our sector can help to solve many of this country's challenges and what they could do to help us in return. It is a refreshing change from the incessant grumbling by some other trade bodies, which serves only to alienate, and has already produced good outcomes, in recent Chancellors' budgets, for example.
It is worth noting another positive step with which readers may wish to get involved. The Caterer's Hotelier of the Year, Sally Beck of the Royal Lancaster London, is using her year in the spotlight to encourage owners and management to sign up to a charter to follow good employment practices, including flexible working patterns, fair pay and career development. The idea is to dispel negative myths about careers in our industry by committing publicly to proper wages and decent terms.
I suspect we shall hear much more about this in the months ahead and hope to see the charter supported by almost every operator in our sector. Given the munificence of those I see on a daily basis, they'll be only too glad to sign up.
Peter Hancock is chief executive of Pride of Britain hotels
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