Andrew Stembridge, managing director of Chewton Glen and Cliveden House hotels and chairman of the Master Innholders, is urging fellow hoteliers to continue to retain and invest in their staff, claiming ‘the power of people’ is enough to keep a business afloat during the recession.
Ahead of the Master Innholders Annual Hotel General Managers’ Conference in January, Stembridge believes the event will serve as a good reminder for hotels about what’s important; improved value through better service –a strategy which can be instilled in existing staff members.
“Our industry is about the power of people and in times of the recession the most important asset is our staff,” Stembridge told BigHospitality. “There’s a natural tendency to drop some of the good staff because it saves you money but actually at this time if we can make sure we’re engaged with our people and we inspire them, then actually we’re going to outperform our competitors.
“People are without question looking for better value now, and that better value can be service. So often, business owners are leaning towards things that cost money as a way out, but improving your levels of service doesn’t necessarily coast anything.
“The Master Innholders Conference is good at reminding people about what’s important. This year will really focus on the power of people; everyone will be able to take something from the event, no matter how big or small the business.”
Von Essen sale
Having been managing director of Cliveden House hotel while it was in administration earlier this year, Stembridge revealed his relief at the 41-bedroom Thameside hotel being sold to the Livingstone brothers in February.
“The sale was absolutely a good thing for Cliveden; the place hasn’t seen any investment for years and ultimately, we’re making the place sparkle again.
“All the properties that have been rescued from Von Essen are in a better place now than they were during that administration period, without question.”
The hotelier is also optimistic about the two properties he oversees being outside of the capital, concluding that other businesses ‘must not stand still’ in 2013 – a year in which many believe will be incredibly tough for the sector, given the lack of major events for hotels to capitalise on.
“The guys in London probably aren’t as optimistic as the rest of the UK,” Stembridge added. “We’re entering a year where there isn’t anything major happening which isn’t giving anyone a lot of confidence.
“A lot of London hotels didn’t benefit from the Olympics as they wanted to. But overall, the Royal Wedding, the Jubilee and the Olympics couldn’t have been better for our industry and our reputation is as good as it’s ever been.
“But we do have a tendency to talk ourselves in and out of recessions in a sense and I think it’s important that we remain optimistic because of the industry we’re in.
“You have to just focus on what really matters – it’s very easy to lose sight of what your core business is and what makes people come back.
“So, going back to my original point, You have to love your staff and your guests. It doesn’t matter what scale you’re at, in this day and age, missing an opportunity is a crime but so many companies still do it.”
Master Innholders Conference
The Master Innholders Annual Hotel General Managers’ Conference will take place on 14 and 15 January at Grosvenor House, Park Lane London.
The organisation’s 20th annual conference, ‘Stretching the Boundaries’, will focus on the economic issues currently facing the hotel industry. The two-day event will include presentations from a range of hotel and finance professionals who will share their experiences and provide delegates with ideas and advice for boosting their business.
- Winning Through the Best Companies Experience by Jonathan Austin and Wayne Clarke, chief executive and international partner of the Best Companies Partnership
- The Corporate Athlete - Managing Wellness and Resilience for Business Leaders by Dr Dorian Dugmore from Wellness International
- The Art of Service by Fred Sirieix, general manager at Galvin at Windows
- Global Tourism: The Opportunity for the UK by Dr Taleb Rifai, secretary general for the UN World Tourism Organisation.
For more information about the conference and booking details, please visit www.masterinnholders.co.uk