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John Keating: Pearls of Wisdom

By Emma Eversham , 31-Aug-2012
Last updated on 31-Aug-2012 at 10:04 GMT

Irish-born John Keating has been in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years, having worked in hotels and resorts all over the world, including The Ritz in London, Mercantile Club Taiwan CCA, Monolith Club Moscow CCA and Sandals Emerald Bay in the Bahamas.

He joined Cameron House Resort Loch Lomond, De Vere in Scotland in 2011 as general manager before becoming managing director a year and a half later.

I was here for a year and a half as general manager before I became managing director. There are a lot of things that are the same, but the biggest change in the role is being responsible for the vision and the development of the business.

When you get to managing director level you realise you have to get other senior executives to believe in your vision. You can't do it on your own so you need support from your team. 

My mother used to say you've got two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listening is so important in this industry. You have to listen to your staff and most importantly your guests. You have to know what makes them happy, that's what hospitality is all about. 

Cameron House Marina could be like a St Tropez in the middle of Loch Lomond. It doesn't look like St Tropez and it's certainly not as warm, but there's a lot of water and with the Boat House restaurant we have, I think could be very St Tropez-ish. 

Having a well-known chef attached to a hotel restaurant really helps sell a hotel's F&B offering. Martin Wishart has a restaurant here which really attracts the foodies, but then we have lots of other things to bring people here, such as the golf and the loch. 

I love the water. I like sailing, diving, fishing - anything to do on or in the water, so I am really enjoying being here at Loch Lomond where there's a lot of it.

I have worked all over the world in some amazing places, from the Caribbean to Russia. I think the only two continents I haven't worked in are Antarctica and Africa.

It's all about the property in this business. As a hotel manager you are attracted by the property, not necessarily the location. 

I'm really keen to cater more for families. I'm a family man myself now with two young children, so I understand more what families need and I've really focused on growing the number of children's activities we offer here at Cameron House.

Scotland's hotel market seems to be performing very well. Edinburgh and Glasgow have both done very well recently. It could be for many reasons, but there has been a big push recently to promote the country and people have seen how beautiful it is.

The London Olympics actually had a positive effect on Scottish hotels I think. It may have been because tourists wanted to avoid London so they thought 'let's go to Scotland this year instead'. I'm not sure, but Scottish hotels certainly saw a rise in visitors overall this summer.

We need to make it easier for international visitors to get visas to come to the UK. I went out to Russia last year and was made aware of how difficult it is to get visas to the UK. We have got to make it easier if we are going to attract people from the emerging markets like India and China. 

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