Hotel For the independent hotelier who means business www.hotelmagazine.co.uk || £4.95 || March 2011
Better by design Bathroom elegance
Stone House Hotel This month’s featured hotel guest entertainment
The latest sophisticated systems on offer to entertain hotel guests
Former Parisian royal palace transformed into a contemporary hotel
Hotel W Managing Editor
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Andrea Ashfield, Michael Cockman, Mike Kiely, Philippe Rossiter, Andreas Scriven Cover image Stone House Hotel Design
elcome to the second issue of Hotel and I am pleased to say that there has been a lot of positive feedback following the launch. This month we include a new feature that will hopefully offer inspiration on elements of design that you may like to introduce to your own property (page 28). The creative genius behind the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris is Pierre-Yves Rochon who has skilfully fused its Bonapartist imperial heritage with a Far Eastern twist. The hotel bathroom takes centre stage in our Better by Design feature (page 38), with Gary Crosbie from Ramparts Interior Contracts revealing what key features go into creating a good design. In this issue, I also catch up with Penny Moore (on page 32) and learn more about her role as chief executive of the charity Hospitality Action, and how the organisation helps those in the hospitality sector. First founded in 1837 as the London Coffee House Keepers Association, the charity has for 174 years supported a wide range of people from Michelin-starred chefs to hotel managers and receptionists. This month’s Front of House feature (page 18) takes us to the Dales in North Yorkshire where we catch up with Chris Taplin. With his brother-in-law Peter Westwood, he has successfully run the Stone House Hotel since 1991, taking control of the hotel after his parents retired. With many sources now predicting an upturn in the hotel sector including director at Christie + Co Andreas Scriven (page 43), it seems that hoteliers can look ahead to the coming year with a degree of optimism. Andreas believes that a particular area for growth for 2011 will come from the corporate sector as more companies increase their conference, training and events expenditure. I hope you enjoy the issue. Sam Guiry firstname.lastname@example.org
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In 1929 John Corby designed a non-electric horizontal trouser press in a room above a garage in Windsor. Eighty years on the company he founded, Corby of Windsor, services the world's top hotels providing over 200 great value products for the hotel and hospitality industry. industr Along with the world's favourite trouser press our wide range includes irons and ironing centres, kettles, hairdryers, minibars, safes, bedroom and bathroom amenities and our recently launched Corby Spa range. All of our products can be purchased online and most are available via next next day delivery.
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MARCH 2011 • CONTENTS FEATURES
Save the historic Three Cups
Campaigners are fighting to save the Three Cups Hotel in Lyme Regis
Let us entertain you
Andrea Ashfield explains why guests want the best in entertainment technology
Talk is cheap
Mike Kiely looks at the key role social media sites can play in promoting a hotel
Whiter than white
The pros and cons of on premises laundry facilities and laundry and linen hire
Hoteliers can take inspiration from the newlyopened Shangri-La Hotel in Paris
The latest news from the industry
Recent career moves in the hospitality sector
A selection of exciting new products and services for hotels, restaurants and bars
Philippe Rossiter of the Institute of Hospitality explores the global challenges facing the hospitality sector in the first of a two part review
Front of house
Chris Taplin of the Stone House Hotel in North Yorkshire reveals more about his successful business partnership with his brother-in-law Peter Westwood
Marketing matters Michael Cockman explores the importance of search engine optimisation
This month Penny Moore, chief executive of the charity Hospitality Action, reveals more about how the organisation helps those in the hospitality sector
Better by design
Gary Crosbie of Ramparts Interior Contracts explains the importance of the hotel bathroom
With a sense of stability returning to the hotel sector, director at Christie + Co Andreas Scriven advises hoteliers to capitalise on the rise in trade
Little touches can make all the difference to a hotel stay, we look at the latest in guest supplies
Upcoming shows, forums and meetings in the hospitality sector
Bannatyne attacks TripAdvisor
Glasgow hotel creates 100 jobs Following the £20 million transformation of one of Glasgow’s ornate Victorian buildings, up to 100 new jobs will be created in the Scottish city when the Hotel Indigo Glasgow opens this Easter. The hotel and neighbouring sister property the Limelight Bar and Grill will be run by local hotel management company Chardon Management, owned by veteran Glasgow-based hotelier and restaurateur Maurice Taylor. The company currently manages almost 35 hotels and restaurants across the UK, employing over 1,500 staff. Recruitment is under way to fill the posts at the 95-bedroom hotel on Waterloo Street with a variety of positions still available, including head of department roles, housekeeping and hotel reception staff. General manager Denis MacCann commented: “Hotel Indigo is the newest 4-star-plus luxury brand of the InterContinental Hotels Group, so where better than Glasgow to become the first city in the UK outside of London to welcome this chic and stylish new concept?”
Hospitality magnate and Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne is spearheading a new campaign against TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website, after it refused to remove a user-submitted review comparing one of his luxury resorts to Fawlty Towers. Bannatyne has said that the US-based site should commit to removing defamatory reviews – rather than its current policy of simply offering management the right of reply – and is considering suing the “despicable and cowardly organisation”, which receives 40 million hits per month. The attack comes after hundreds of hoteliers and restaurateurs threatened to take legal action against the website last year, over claims some reviews – all of which are authored by the site’s users – are defamatory, untrue or fake and are damaging businesses. “As a recent victim of a rogue review, I am well placed to lead the campaign for more protection against the perils of TripAdvisor,” said Bannatyne. Chris Emmins, founder of online reputation management company Kwikchex, which is acting on behalf of around 800 hotels and restaurants that claim they have fallen victim to unfair reviews, is also planning to bring legal action against TripAdvisor and other similar websites. He stated: “Our estimate is that there are at least 27,000 defamatory comments on TripAdvisor; allegations that are false and should, if necessary, be tested in court. We also estimate there are several million reviews that are out of date by more than 18 months, and more than 100,000 businesses listed on the site that are closed, some for many years.” He further added: “A huge number of businesses are under attack from people carrying out absolutely fraudulent reviews; totally false, malicious and often vile allegations, often by competitors and disgruntled ex‑employees.” However, spokesperson for TripAdvisor Emma O’Boyle said a team of “quality assurance specialists” investigate suspicious reviews, and that it takes a “zero tolerance” approach to any such postings.
Massive hike in cotton prices will have to be passed on to hoteliers Hoteliers are facing further increases in running costs as the price of cotton continues to rise. The latest figures show that the price of cotton rose by 76 per cent in 2010, translating into a 38 per cent hike in the cost of a bed sheet. This all-time high is threatening the UK’s commercial laundry sector, which is likely to pass the cost on to the hospitality industry, one of the largest consumers of commercial laundry. Murray Simpson, chief executive officer of the Textile Services Association (TSA), believes that current prices are not sustainable and said: “Hoteliers, restaurants, hospitals and other sectors dependent on cotton-rich textiles should be ready to work creatively with their crisis-hit suppliers to help ensure their needs are served over the coming months.” He believes that not only are thousands of skilled jobs at stake, but a failure to recognise the challenges may lead to serious supply and quality issues. Industry leaders are to gather to discuss the crisis at the Cotton Summit, due to be held on 15 March at the Marriot Hotel in Leicester. To register to attend, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Marriott opens first Finnish hotel Acting on behalf of investment concerns BMZ Invest and Ultivista, Christie + Co has secured for Marriott International the operation of a 17-storey, 272-bedroom hotel in Finland, which will become the hotel company’s first property in the country when it opens in 2013. The hotel, which is located in the prestigious west end district of Espoo, Finland’s second largest city, is likely to become one of the grandest hotels in the country and will be opened under the flagship brand, Marriott Hotels and Resorts. Estimated development costs are approximately €63 million. Kimmo Virtanen, director at Christie + Co for Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic States, said: “This will be a welcome internationally-branded addition to the market supply of Helsinki’s metropolitan area and will bring a fresh product to the sector. There continues to be selective opportunities for further developments and brands in this market.”
Gay-only hotels breach anti-discrimination law The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is to investigate whether gay-only guesthouses breach anti-discrimination legislation. The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations outlaw discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities, services, education and public functions on the grounds of sexual orientation. However, supporters of same-sex-only establishments fear they could be put out of business if they are forced to open their doors to heterosexual couples. The news follows a high-profile January court case in which a homosexual couple were awarded damages after being refused a room at a Cornwall hotel; a legal action supported by the EHRC. The equality watchdog now similarly says it must strike an “objective balance” concerning gay-only accommodation. Same-sex hotel owner John Bellamy said the Sexual Orientation Regulations are a “double-edged sword.” He added: “We’ve been campaigning for this law for years so that everyone is equal, but it could spell the end of gay-only resorts.”
Signature Card enables hoteliers to wow brides Wedding seminar organiser the Wedding Salon has introduced a discount card that will make it easier for hoteliers to cash in on the lucrative bridal market. The Signature Card is issued by the hotel or venue to a bride-to-be interested in making use of the hotel’s premises and gives her preferential rates and discounts at local wedding companies, allowing her to receive upgraded services. Participation is by invitation only to 4 or 5 star venues, so bridal clientele who are issued with the card, feel they are viewing and potentially booking facilities shrouded in exclusivity. Furthermore, there is no charge to the venue for participating in the card scheme. Other benefits include hosting Signature Card evenings to encourage brides to enhance their wedding day and a unique concierge service available online for confirmed brides, which automatically recommends the hotel’s services to other cardholders seeking a venue. Shanine Jajh, director of sales, said: “With the bridal market the most competitive it’s ever been, venues need to find new and innovative ways to attract clientele. Participating in the Signature Card scheme not only manages to do this by making the bride feel special, but also has the added bonus of being able to increase sales through cross-selling to other revenue areas such as food and beverage outlets, spa and leisure.”
AND BRIEFLY First self-funding booking service Glasgow-based travel company US Booking Services Ltd is offering independent accommodation owners access to what it describes as “the UK’s first self-funding booking service.” freetobook allows hoteliers to easily set up and manage their room inventory online. Director and founder of US Booking Services Craig Stewart said “Our new software gives these properties access to the best booking technology.” For more information, visit www.freetobook.com Hospitality industry most breached Cyber-criminals are shifting the target of their attacks to mobile users and endpoint devices in the hospitality sector, according to the 2011 Global Security Report from Trustwave. With food and beverage-related investigations representing 57 per cent of the year’s inquiries into cyberattacks, CEO of Trustwave Robert J McCullen urged those working in the industry to keep a close watch on mobile devices and educate staff about the dangers. A full copy of the report is available from http://bit.ly/fjWsNZ Dolphin Dynamics shows growth Travel technology supplier Dolphin Dynamics has commenced a recruitment drive and move to new premises following a 33 per cent growth in sales turnover during 2010. The new positions will primarily be focused in areas to support the increased roll-out of Dolphin systems and the delivery of major product developments during 2011. President Roberto Da Re said: “We believe these will enable us to compete even more effectively during 2011, when we are again forecasting double-digit growth.” Procure4 scoops supplier award Travelodge has awarded supply chain and management specialist Procure4 the Supplier of the Year award at its annual staff management conference at the ExCeL centre in London’s docklands. The hotel chain had commissioned Procure4 to help it review its procurement programme at the beginning of 2010. Travelodge’s director of operational finance Robert George said: “The programme delivered impressive savings, exceeding the efficiency targets set at the beginning of the project.”
Britain shuts door on hotel managers Many hotel managers will be barred from working in the United Kingdom under proposed new immigration limits that will cut migrant workers by up to 10,000 a year. The list of jobs open to workers from outside the European Union will be cut by more than a third under recommendations published by the Home Office’s immigration advisors, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). The proposals are part of government plans to raise the threshold for skilled worker visas to graduate-level jobs, meaning the door will be closed to non-EU workers in more than 70 professions including hotel managers, hairdressers and estate agents. The Conservatives pledged before the election to cut net migration from around 200,000 to the tens of thousands by 2015. MAC chairman Professor David Metcalf said: “Skilled foreign workers make a valuable contribution to the British economy, but in the context of limits on migration, it is essential that the immigration system is designed to select those migrants we need the most. We have recognised this by ensuring our recommendations will allow the most skilled to continue to come and work here.”
Thwaites launches Inns of Character Lancashire pub company Daniel Thwaites has unveiled plans to launch a new chain of hotels, Thwaites Inns of Character. The inns are to revive the traditional aspects of inn-keeping with a strong emphasis on good hospitality, quality en-suite bedrooms, locally-sourced food on all menus and a wide range of cask ales and fine wines. They will be managed by sister brand Shire Hotels, and initially located within an hour of one of Shire’s existing four-star properties, in order to enable the Shire team to support the new hotels. “We’re looking to deliver a very different experience to both the corporate and leisure traveller,” commented Antony Spencer, managing director of Shire Hotels. “Service style will be informal, but standards will be high – we see them being a real alternative to staid and impersonal, budget-type accommodation, offering character and personality to engage with our guests.”
Permission granted for luxury country club
Permission has been granted for the refurbishment of the historic Grade II listed Broxbournebury Manor into a 95-bedroom luxury golf hotel at the Hertfordshire golf and country club, following an application submitted by chartered surveyors Humberts Leisure. Humberts’ application, despite three previous failed attempts for similar planning permission, was recommended for approval and supported by the local authority planning committee. Members agreed there was strong demand for a new luxury golf hotel to help support local businesses. The committee also felt the proposed designs would be an improvement to the listed building, through significant refurbishment and the removal of a large and intrusive tennis dome which projected above the manor’s garden walls. Martin Taylor, director of planning and consulting at Humberts Leisure, said: “There has been a lot of criticism of the government’s localism agenda and how it could potentially stifle new development. However, here is an example where the Secretary of State has empowered a local authority to consider all the matters before them, including important national policies to protect the green belt and listed buildings, and to reach their own decision to approve a new development that will support local business growth, improve an important listed building and preserve the openness of the green belt.”
Whitbread appoints international MD for budget brand Premier Inn Whitbread plc has confirmed the appointment of Paul Macpherson as international managing director for Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants, in which he is to assume responsibility for the company’s international strategy for budget hotel brand Premier Inn. Macpherson joins from the Jumeirah Group, where he has been chief development officer for the last five years. Prior to this, he spent over 10 years working in Asia and the Middle East in development roles for Hilton and PKF Consulting. Premier Inn currently has four hotels outside of the UK – three in the Middle East and one in India – with a further three under construction. Andy Harrison, Whitbread chief executive, said: “Premier Inn has a significant opportunity in the international hotel market. Under Paul’s leadership we will continue to develop our strategy, building on our recent experience in the Middle East and India. Paul brings a wealth of experience and we are delighted to welcome him on board at this exciting time in Premier Inn’s growth.”
More on board for top catering show The exhibitor list for this month’s Hotel and Catering Show in Bournemouth is increasingly looking like a Who’s Who of the hospitality and catering worlds, as the organisers finalised the event’s line-up schedule. The list of confirmed exhibitors includes names such as Nestlé Professional, Molson Coors, Douwe Egberts, DCA Equipment, Ringwood Brewery and Wrights Dairies, while leading hotelier Andrew Stembridge of Chewton Glen is set to officially open the show. Show features include the UK’s largest young chef and waiting competition, the Wessex Salon Culinaire, which will provide exposure to aspiring chefs and hospitality service personnel, and provide hoteliers and restaurateurs with the perfect opportunity to talent spot for all those potential employees. Among the highlights of the competition is the unique cook and serve contest Taste of Toque, which will feature famous faces such as television chefs James Tanner, Cyrus Todiwala OBE (pictured) and Masterchef: The Professionals semifinalist Alice Churchill. Show organiser Anna Wallis commented: “When economic conditions remain challenging, businesses have to become inventive to set themselves apart from competitors and offer something more to meet customers’ changing demands. For a full schedule or to register to attend, visit www.hotel-expo.co.uk
London to see rise in luxury hotel supply According to figures published by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), there could be a 27 per cent increase in luxury rooms in London by 2012. With around 2,400 luxury rooms in 18 hotels currently under construction or planned in the city, PwC said that investors are eager to enter the capital’s luxury sector, where the barriers to entry are high, trading has been strong and high-quality assets are relatively scarce. Liz Hall, head of hotel research at PwC, said that while absorbing the new rooms may not be too much of an issue in central London, it may be more difficult for sites further out of the central tourist core and business districts. “Luxury hotels are often the most volatile and cyclical of all hotel segments and the first to take a dive when times are bad, due to a high cost base and high service levels,” Hall commented. “On the other hand, they are susceptible to a very rapid recovery when times are good, as we have seen in the past and are starting to see now in London.”
AND BRIEFLY Quarter of UK hoteliers absorb VAT increase A quarter of UK hoteliers have decided not to pass on the New Year VAT rise to their guests, a survey undertaken by hospitality website HotStats has found, while a further 27 per cent are only passing on part of the rate increase. The Hotel Confidence Monitor Q1 2011 survey questioned general managers from 267 hotel chains from around UK. “Confidence levels and performance expectations are beginning to improve, albeit gradually,” commented HotStats MD Mark Dickens, “but we will see soon whether the VAT increase will have a negative impact on the UK hotel market.” Pub owners fined for streaming football games A father and son team caught streaming Premier League football games over the internet at their chain of Hull pubs are facing a bill of £116,000. Alister and Charles Darroch, who run 11 venues throughout the city, were fined £33,000 each, plus £25,000 in legal costs, following a prosecution brought by law firm Media Protection Services acting on behalf of the Barclays Premier League. Media Protection Services managing director Ray Hoskin said that he was “disappointed that a minority of publicans still ignore the many warnings given by the courts and ourselves over a period of years.” Travelodge sells over seven million rooms in 2010 Budget hotel chain Travelodge sold a record 7.2 million bedrooms during 2010, a rise of 13 per cent compared to the previous year. Despite last year’s uncertain economy, the company continued to expand, with 70 new hotels throughout the country. Travelodge chief executive Guy Parsons said: “We served record numbers of customers, grew total sales and opened 70 new hotels in excellent locations, targeting sites that would have been beyond our reach before the recession.” The company has already opened four hotels this year and is currently building a further 36. Rodrigues re-appointed as VisitBritain chairman Christopher Rodrigues has been appointed to serve a second four-year term as chairman of Britain’s national tourism agency as the industry stands on the brink of its greatest opportunity for years. He will be providing the strategic leadership at VisitBritain as it takes on the task of using major events such as the royal wedding, the Queen’s diamond jubilee and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to showcase Britain and deliver a permanent increase in tourism to this country. News of his re-appointment comes after Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the tourism industry has responded magnificently to the challenge of creating a unique public-private partnership to fund a global marketing campaign. Hotels missing out on valuable guest feedback Too many hospitality managers are missing out on valuable guest feedback they could be using to improve service, inspire loyalty and ultimately boost their bottom line, according to a leading customer experience consultant. Glenn Jones, managing director of business consultancy iBuzcon, has teamed up with specialist technology provider, Partner Tech UK, to help hoteliers generate clearer customer feedback and make their venues more appealing to guests. Jones believes outmoded methods of eliciting customer views are the biggest barrier to capturing useful information.
New appointments Keeping up to date with the representatives of your industry
VisitBritain Christopher Rodrigues CBE has been appointed to serve a second four-year term as chairman of VisitBritain, Britain’s national tourism agency. He will be providing the strategic leadership at VisitBritain as it takes on the task of using major events such as the upcoming royal wedding, the Queen’s diamond jubilee and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to showcase Britain and deliver a permanent increase in tourism to the country. Christopher, a graduate of the Cambridge University and Harvard Business School, became chairman of VisitBritain in January 2007. He is also chairman of International Personal Finance Plc, the Windsor Leadership Trust, the Almeida Theatre and a council member of the National Trust. He has also been an independent non-executive director at Ladbrokes Plc (formerly Hilton Group Plc) since 2003 and is an executive committee member of the World Travel and Tourism Council. His past experience includes time as president and chief executive of Visa International between 1997 and 2003, and chief executive of Thomas Cook between 1988 and 1996. Christopher said: “I am absolutely delighted to be re-appointed to this challenging role at such an opportune moment for British tourism. In a few months the eyes of the world will be on the royal wedding at Westminster Abbey, and next summer focused on the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Games. These and other iconic events present us with an unprecedented opportunity to boost Britain’s image abroad and promote our attractiveness as a destination.”
QHotels Steven Hodgkinson has been awarded the job of general manager at the QHotels-owned Aldwark Manor Golf and Spa Hotel, near York. Steven, who has over 12 years of experience in the hospitality industry, joins Aldwark Manor following his position as general manager of the Hotel du Vin, Henley. Steven will oversee the management of the picturesque 54-bedroom hotel, which sits in 100 acres of parkland on the banks of the River Ure. Commenting on his appointment, Steven said: “I am thrilled to be joining QHotels at such an exciting time and look forward to working with the excellent team we have at Aldwark Manor Golf and Spa. The hotel has long been an excellent golf, spa and leisure retreat and I am looking forward to working with the local and regional market to continue to emphasise its equally beautiful setting as a wedding hotel and flexible meeting venue.”
Barceló UK Hotel group Barceló UK has welcomed James Farrow as commercial director and Nicole Kaufman as head of marketing and ecommerce. James was previously with Hilton Hotels for more than 20 years, most recently senior vice president of sales and regional marketing, where he was responsible for the successful operation of some of the world’s best-known hotel brands. Nicole has nearly 10 years of experience in the marketing and tourism industries and was previously product marketing manager for the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC). James said: “It’s an exciting coincidence that I am returning to my roots and working for a well-established hotel brand in the UK, which includes the Blackpool hotel where I learned so many early lessons! I look forward to utilising my skills and knowledge to grow this inspirational collection of 4 star hotels and put them top of mind for meetings and events in the UK.” Nicole added: “I am particularly keen to work for Barceló UK, as they have exciting plans for integrating ecommerce into their marketing activity. I am looking forward to helping them capture the real benefit for the bottom line.” Barceló UK has 21 hotels throughout Britain, ranging from traditional country and coastal retreats to town and city properties.
Stapleford Park Hotel David Ellams has been promoted to the position of head chef at Stapleford Park, near Melton Mowbray, as it moves into a new dining era. David brings over 13 years of industry experience to the role, including time at Overton Grange, Summer Lodge, Mortons House and three years at Stapleford Park as executive sous chef. David said: “Stapleford Park is such a unique property that really challenges a chef ’s ability, from fine dining dinners for two to grand weddings for up to 180 or even large celebrity parties. Flexibility is key and together as a team we look forward to embracing the challenges.” Commenting on the recent appointment, Shuif Hussain, managing director, said: “We are delighted to see David graduate to head chef. He has a lovely touch, and since heading up the kitchen he keeps getting great comments about his food from our guests. I have every confidence that he will excel in his new role.”
Hotel under threat
Save The Historic Three Cups The historic Three Cups hotel in Lyme Regis has welcomed a long list of illustrious guests, but it could be demolished with proposed plans to convert it into residential dwellings. Campaigner John Dover is fighting to save the hotel and hopes that a purchaser can be found to get the derelict building operating as a viable business again
Grade II Listed hotel in Lyme Regis whose guests have included JRR Tolkien, Jane Austen, Charlie Chaplin and President Eisenhower is under threat. For over 200 years the Three Cups has played a significant part in the town’s history and has been a popular port of call for many influential figures, but after standing empty for over 20 years it has been deemed no longer commercially viable as a hotel. Owned by Palmers Brewery, the hotel has a long and illustrious history dating back to the 1850s, Before this, it was known as Hiscott’s Boarding House. It is here that Jane Austen is believed to have found inspiration for her novel Persuasion and it has since attracted a wealth of famous guests including literary giants GK Chesterton, Tennyson, Longfellow and a JRR Tolkien. During the second world war, it became an unofficial officer’s mess for American troops and General Dwight D Eisnehower briefed his officers here prior to the D-Day landings. John Dover, chairman of the ‘Save the Three Cups as a hotel’ group, explains why the hotel has such an important role in the town’s history: “It’s at the heart of life here; we want to restore it and make sure it becomes a prominent part of Lyme for the future.” However, plans are underway to demolish all but the frontage of the building and convert it into flats and retail outlets. John and the other steering group members have been at the forefront of the battle to not only save the building, but keep it running as fully operational hotel. For over 20 years the Three Cups has stood empty, and time has certainly taken its toll on this once elegant Georgian building which is now in a severely dilapidated state. Actor Jeremy Irons is just one of the high profile figures who has lent his support to the campaign to save the hotel, saying; “It seems to me that owners leaving a building abandoned for a long period of time, when that building is part of the local community, should be prosecuted for vandalism to our built heritage.” He has a particularly interest in the hotel as he was filmed looking out of its first floor bow window in the film The French Lieutenant’s Woman. He is not alone in questioning
Hotel under threat
why it has not been restored since the last hotelier closed the doors in 1990. According to John Dover, “it has taken the company 20 years to produce plans for the site.” In the autumn of 2009, Palmers did commission an independent consultant’s report into the cost of getting the hotel up and running again. Carried out by TRI Hospitality Consulting, one of the options considered was a re-conversion of the existing building into a 13-bedroom hotel complete with restaurant, bar and meeting room at a cost of £830,000. However, Palmers’ property agent Chesterton Humberts feels that restoring the property to its former use as a hotel is simply not going to prove profitable. Director Nigel Jones said: “The reconversion costs are so high, not because the building has been unused but because it needs complete re-configuration to meet modern standards and customer requirements. Radical changes would be needed to room layout and facilities; it is not a case of simple refurbishment.” Many hoteliers in Lyme Regis have been calling for more hotels to be opened in the town, including David Parker of the Lyme Regis Hotel and Restaurants Association. He said: “The local hotels are inundated with bookings. We are desperate for bed space; all the hotels that were in Lyme have been turned into flats and apartments.” This is a point affirmed in TRI’s report, where it is noted: “During the seasonal summer period, hoteliers in Lyme Regis are turning away more than 20 rooms per night.” John Dover believes there is the potential for the Three Cups to become “the jewel in the crown of the tourist industry for the whole of Dorset, as it benefits from a prime location in the town centre and offers access to the Jurassic coastline.” The report further highlights how Lyme Regis has remained mostly unaffected by the current economic downturn and would ultimately benefit from the first branded or boutique hotel in the town and surrounding area. There are many who believe that Palmers Brewery has deliberately resisted plans to redevelop the hotel as it is pursuing a far more lucrative venture by using the site to establish residential housing and several small shops. At the time of reporting, the
campaigners hoping to save the Three Cups have achieved a small victory. John Dover affirms that both English Heritage and West Dorset District Council have recognised the historical value of the hotel and have called for Palmers to present more detailed reports into its development plans. This is a welcome development in the ongoing saga as campaigners are vehemently opposed to any scheme that proposes the demolition of two-thirds of the building. There is also a background strategy of compulsory purchase as a last resort – where local authorities can obtain the property without the permission of the owner where there is a “compelling case in the public interest.” Further help may come in the form of Planning Policy Statement 5 (PP5), which states that a locally listed building may become a designated heritage asset, if it forms a significant element in a
conservation area. This was the case with the Sandford Lido in Cheltenham, which was scheduled to be demolished to make way for a 407-space car park. The inspector concluded that “the Lido forms an integral part of the conservation area and it makes a substantial contribution to its significance.” The same could be said of the Three Cups whose history is intertwined with the town, and as campaigner Andrew Townsend adds: “The re-opened Three Cups should be more than another hotel, it should be the most famous tourist attraction in Lyme Regis, like the Tower in Blackpool, the Castle in Edinburgh or Raffles Hotel in Singapore, attracting visitors from around the world.” In the meantime, the battle continues to save the hotel and to secure someone with the financial means to make this vision a reality. For more information go to: www.savethethreecups.info
From left to right, campaigners John Dover and David Parker
Hotels around the UK can now have a professional three minute viral produced by Big Picture TV and added to their TV programme Discover Britain that broadcasts currently on Sky and Freesat. The company behind this is offering AMI Furniture is pleased to present the Iris Side Chair, available a service that includes script and with three different back styles: show-wood only, show-wood with voiceover to hotels that respond direct upholstered front and fully-upholstered. These compact models to email@example.com expressing their interest. Hotels that combine sleek Italian design with comfort and style, making them ideal have already taken advantage of this service include the Park for hotels, restaurants, bars and casinos. The solid beech frame can be Lane Mayfair, Montcalm Marble Arch and the programme stained to your specification and upholstery can be in fabric, leather or has its official sponsor in place already: the Rafayel London. choice of material. The Iris family also includes three complementary Information: www.bigpicturetv.co.uk armchair designs and AMI is able to supply tables to match. Information: 0115 985 0515 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Vita Audio’s R2i music system can be found in every bedroom of the recently re-opened Savoy Hotel. Featuring a DAB and FM tuner and dock for a variety of Apple devices, Vita states that the R2i is the ideal match for the Savoy, with its products being renowned for the quality of their craftsmanship, elegant, distinctive styling and sound quality that sets them apart from the crowd. Information: 01702 601 410 or www.vitaaudio.com
Are you including or excluding clients? Are you only paying lip service to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)? Are your changing rooms designed to accommodate disabled users in wheelchairs, including those who may have prosthetic limbs or walking aids, or may be visually impaired? If not, Craftsman Quality Lockers offers the unique Equalizer locker, specifically designed for wheelchair users and the ambulant disabled and fully recommended by the Inclusive Fitness Initiative, to ensure your hotel changing facilities are fully inclusive and meet your obligations under the DDA. Information: 01480 405 396 or www.cqlockers.co.uk
With 15 years of experience in sign- and banner-making, HFE Signs Ltd is a leading supplier of mail-order signs, banners and digital print. HFE offers free nationwide delivery with the order of two banners; same-day dispatch if ordered by 11.00 am; many banner sizes on special offer; no artwork fee; and a large range of pre-designed banners and pavement signs. Information: 0845 370 0260 or www.hfe-signs.co.uk
The new ThermaLite 2 from Electronic Temperature Instruments Ltd (ETI) is a cost-effective thermometer ideal for routine day-to-day food and catering applications. The thermometer indicates temperature from 39.9 to 149.9°C with a ± 0.5°C accuracy, guaranteed for the life of the instrument. Each ThermaLite also incorporates a CalCheck 0°C function, which is activated by simply pressing the on/off and hold buttons simultaneously at the time of switching on; auto-power off facility; and an ABS case that contains an additive that reduces bacterial growth. Available in six colours.
Make the best impression on your guests every time, all the time, with quality key fobs from Badgemaster. Made from hard-wearing ABS plastic – the choice of high-tech aero and automotive industries – and safe, durable sprung steel, Badgemaster’s award-winning key fobs have information clearly and permanently engraved and come with a huge choice of colourways and free, expert design advice that can work around any concept, image or corporate logo. Available in standard (36 by 100 mm) and jumbo (55 by 145 mm) sizes.
Information: 01903 202 445 or www.thermometer.co.uk
Information: 01623 723 112 or www.badgemaster.co.uk
AVER supplies the hotel trade with projectors to keep on site for use whenever they are needed. Provided with a flight case for safe-keeping, Kensington lock to secure it to any surface and complimentary maintenance and lamp replacement, there are no daily hire charges, minimum contract or minimum usage – only pay for what is used. AVER currently supplies to Cedar Court, Malmaison, Best Western and Holiday Inn, among others. Call for a demonstration.
Bermar’s award-winning Le Verre de Vin technology is firmly established as an industry leader. An extensive range of standalone and built-in preservation systems, including the new Le Verre de Vin Tower, means there’s a solution to fit any business and budget. Today’s wine-savvy drinkers will readily pay premium prices to enjoy a great glass of wine, provided it’s delivered in tip-top condition. That’s why proven Le Verre de Vin technology sits at the heart of ‘by the glass’ service in more than 33,000 operations around the world.
Information: 01992 897 690 or email@example.com
Satelliet-Browns has come up with a great range of outdoor furniture for pubs, clubs and restaurants that shows the company takes its environmental responsibility seriously. The Resysta range of tables, chairs, stools and benches have the look and feel of natural wood, but not one tree bites the dust in their manufacture. The elegant pieces of outdoor furniture are made from rice husks, salt and mineral oils, but are indistinguishable from wood and can be worked just like the real thing. Satelliet-Brown’s MD Harvey Ockrim said the Resysta collection is “100 per cent wood-free, easy-to-maintain, sustainable and totally recyclable – the perfect alternative to unregulated tropical timber felling.”
Information: 01473 612 062 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information: 0800 977 5722 or www.satelliet-browns.co.uk
Chrysalis Contracts is one of the UK’s leading companies specialising in hotel interior refurbishments. Its projects are both nationwide and international, ranging from simple room re-decorations to more extensive structural refurbishments that redefine spaces. It has a knowledgeable in-house team of design professionals to consider all stages of the design process, from model making, concept sketches, story boards and animations to AutoCAD drawings, product selection, finishes and sample rooms. From concept to completion, Chrysalis has the experience within its team to ensure that a stunning hotel interior is delivered on budget and on time. Information: 01543 429 075 or email@example.com
Offering a simple way to market a hotel’s extra services via in-room televisions, Forbes Hotel TV has developed iNFOTV, a customisable hotel information channel designed to keep guests informed of current offers and provide additional content such as the latest news and traffic information. Fully-bespoke to the client, the system also has the added advantage of creating possible extra revenue streams by charging local businesses, such as taxi firms and local restaurants, to advertise on the hotel’s branded channel. Information: 0845 070 2331 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Cunninghams’ EPoS hotel solution comes in a sleek and economical form: the PAR EverServ 2000, running PixelPoint hospitality software. The hardware combines a spill-resistant, high-impact enclosure that is built to withstand the tough hospitality environment, while the software will improve guest experience, making for an EPoS solution that’s easy-to-use, brilliantly flexible and rock-solid reliable. Key features include room and table management, advanced inventory control, menu management, comprehensive reporting and reservations. Information: 01564 829 999 or www.cunninghams.co.uk
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Global Challenges In the first in a two part review, Philippe Rossiter of the Institute of Hospitality looks at the demands placed on managers in the hospitality sector, from dealing with security threats to actively working towards environmental sustainability
he pace of business life continues to accelerate and managers the world over could be forgiven for occasionally feeling they are not in control. New challenges keep landing on the desk: rapid technological advances, more determined competitors, increased legislation and the growing demands of customers. In a broader context, there are many global issues which impact on the lives of managers, with security and environmental responsibility being two key areas of interest. Managers in the hospitality industry are not immune from any of these pressures and it could be argued they are more susceptible to their influence than their counterparts in other sectors. The global nature of the industry; its reliance on disproportionately high labour levels together with a propensity for rapid staff turnover; its vulnerability to outside forces; and its prime focus on customer service – all factors which create a complex and challenging environment for hospitality managers. Yet, at the same time, these managers have the good fortune to be working within the world’s largest industry, where the predictions for growth over the next 20 years are breathtaking. The expansion of tourism and hospitality across the world continues unabated and even the most conservative of forecasts points to rising demand and an increasingly more sophisticated and discerning customer. There are, however, a number of global challenges which are already beginning to impact on the industry. Increased labour mobility has become a critical issue for recruiters at a time when many populations, not only in the west, are ageing with fewer young men and women entering the workforce. The long-term
sustainability of many tourist destinations is also a serious cause for concern, as more visitors arrive each year. Finally, guaranteed energy supplies and sound security are pre-requisites for a stable and profitable hospitality business. All these aspects are outside the control of the hospitality manager, yet even the smallest shift or change in any one of them can prove potentially catastrophic for the business.
question of keeping an exotic destination as near pristine as possible. All countries are now confronted with major environmental issues relating to energy and water usage, pollution, waste disposal and sustainable food procurement. These aspects are not the unique preserve of the hospitality industry, but it finds itself in a prime position where it can demonstrate best practice to an audience of increasingly more discerning and environmentally-aware customers. At a time when we are confronted by the often alarming predictions for climate change, reduced water resources and the increasing impact of pollution and waste in our societies, modern hospitality managers cannot ignore their responsibilities in the field of sound environmental management, as well as those of their guests.
Of all the challenges facing the modern hospitality manager, security is probably the most difficult to tackle adequately. By their very nature, concerns about security Environment emanate from the unpredictability of the According to co-founding chairman of society in which we live. When speaking the Accor Group, Paul Dubrule: “the of security, there is an immediate focus environment is the raw material of the on terrorism, where in recent years the tourism industry.” This is evident in industry has found itself the target for virtually all countries around the world numerous and deadly attacks. It is not from exotic South Sea islands to the only terrorism which can create adverse dramatic landscape of conditions for the the Norwegian fjords. At unsuspecting manager, The environment is the same time, and for with economic collapses, the raw material of many of these countries, health scares and natural the tourism industry tourism has become one disasters all contributing of the most important to an unstable and contributors to economic growth, often unpredictable environment in which to leading to an understandable desire to service one’s guests safely. capitalise on this rich income stream. In Furthermore, it is not only the grandturn, this causes increased development scale events which impact on the manager’s which, if allowed to continue in an responsibility. More frequently, and often unstructured fashion, can in the long-term more personally, it is local security relating prove counter-productive. to fire hazards, health and safety and guest One of the biggest challenges facing protection from theft and assault which tourism planners and host countries create the greater challenge for the manager. alike, is the need to create sustainable In an age where the customer is more development and avoid saturation. Failure likely to have recourse to litigation, it is to control development runs the risk of important that the hospitality manager destroying the very attractiveness of the is equipped adequately to meet every destination, which, in turn, will lead to a eventuality. Faced with such challenges, he reduction in tourist arrivals and revenue or she needs to be a skilled and competent per tourist, with a potentially catastrophic professional, who can adapt to rapidly effect on the local economy. changing circumstances, while maintaining Yet the environmental challenge is not a a clear focus on the needs of the customer.
Front of house
Front of House Chris Taplin of the Stone House Hotel in North Yorkshire reveals more about its inspirational gardener, coping with life in the Dales, his successful business partnership with his brother-in-law Peter and meeting the needs of some unexpected guests
dream house on a dream site’, the Stone House Hotel was built in 1908 by Hugh Crallan who inherited a considerable fortune and set about creating a gentleman’s residence in his beloved Dales. According to resident manager Chris Taplin, the esteemed Mr Crallan chose the prolific country house architect P Morley Horder to bring his vision to life, and instead of looking to the original Edwardian design took inspiration from the grand homes of an earlier era. Friends and former colleagues were frequently invited for the weekend at Crallan’s country retreat, and on one such occasion it was decided that a local cricket match would form part of the entertainment. As Chris explains, among this party of guests was a struggling young author who was still searching for a name for his principal character. Into bat marched the Stone House gardener Percy Jeeves and a certain Mr P G Wodehouse had the name for Bertie Wooster’s butler! Chris goes on to add that since Mr Crallan’s death the hotel has had several owners including an orthodontist from Sheffield and the authoress Barbara Una Ratcliffe, best-known for her poetry in the Yorkshire dialect. He describes how the hotel came into their family in 1980: “My dad was a retail butcher from Bradford who was looking to retire from the meat business, as the emerging supermarkets were enticing customers away from independent retailers. My parents always enjoyed entertaining friends and family at home with great food and plenty of laughs, but neither had any professional experience in the hotel trade.” Undaunted by the challenge that lay ahead, they saw the property advertised in the Yorkshire Post and decided to take a closer look. Chris says: “The location was enough to convince them that it was a gamble that might just pay off. With only five bedrooms the house was quite modest in size, but there was
Front of house
potential to expand and, with the start of the James Herriotinspired TV series All Creatures Great and Small, the demand for good quality en-suite accommodation was increasing all the time.” He describes how, armed with a small business development grant, his parents were able to increase the number of bedrooms, and before long his father had sold the butchers shop in Bradford to focus on getting guests through the door. Chris says the running of the hotel has always been very much a family affair with “mum doing all the cooking and dad running the front of house.” Not only did this help to keep staff costs down, but it also allowed for the addition of more bedrooms, and a 35-cover dining room that rapidly established a reputation for
The best hoteliers make an effort to get to know who they are dealing with and endeavour to make them feel special
its great food and hospitality. Not surprisingly, occupancy levels rose and from March to October 1990 they had reached 90 per cent. The work was far from over and as Chris explains: “The offseason months were spent refurbishing and catching-up on some much needed R&R, while Christmas and New Year house parties provided a vital source of income in an otherwise quiet winter.” It comes as no surprise that Chris ultimately followed in the family tradition, and after completing a three year diploma in hospitality management, which included a year working at the luxury 5-star Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich, he joined his parents at Stone House. It was around this time his parents decided to take
more of a back seat and allow their son to take over the day-to-day running of the hotel. Chris explains: “I became a partner in the business in 1991 and in 1992 my brother-in-law Peter Westwood joined me. He had left his family business and was looking for a new challenge. We both knew that in order to grow the business to its full potential, we would need not only each other, but to move away from seasonal staff to more permanent contracted employees who could operate over a longer season.” Chris assumed responsibility for the hotel aged just 25 and was soon having to meet some of the challenges of working in the hotel sector head-on. He describes: “We have seen off a couple of recessions, petrol shortages and worst of all the dreadful foot and mouth year of 2001 when the Dales were deemed to be a no-go area and tourism was greatly affected.” Many may question how the hotel not only survived but actually, with the exception of 2001, showed an increase in profit year-on-year. Chris attributes the hotel’s success to his intuitive business partnership and the ethos of hard work, high standards and value for money. He says: “Every single member of our staff gives 110 per cent to everybody who walks through our front door. The creation of a solid customer base over the past 30 years has been the single most important factor in the hotel’s success and this has been achieved by giving customers what they want and adapting to their needs as trends change.” Chris continues: “We do occasionally discount our rack rates but have never been drawn into the downward spiral of rateslashing. We prefer to maintain rates and give a better overall customer experience.” Chris also feels establishing an online presence has been key to the hotel’s growth, adding: “We keep our website fully updated ▶▶▶
Front of house
and, with the addition of a new real-time booking facility our shop window to the world is our most successful marketing tool. Peter and I have grown the business to its current size of 24 bedrooms and 55-cover restaurant, and although 2011 will be a challenging year for everyone, we are confident that Stone House is well positioned to meet this.” Chris and Peter constantly look at innovative ways to improve revenue and have introduced a range of special interest courses. Chris says: “The idea behind these came about when we were looking at ways to extend a traditionally short season in the Dales. We wanted to give people a reason to come to Stone House in the depths of winter when they wouldn’t usually consider taking a break.” If anything is going to get guests warmed up as the temperatures plummet, it’s a shot of single malt scotch. The hotel has hosted whisky tastings, digital photography courses, wine tastings and even sheep-dog training. This year, they have added some new additions to the diary including dry-stone walling and computer classes. One of the key attractions of the hotel is its setting in one of the most scenic areas of the UK, though Chris thinks many guests don’t realise just what’s on the doorstep. He adds: “I do feel the Yorkshire Dales have slipped off the radar for many potential visitors. All Creatures Great and Small provided a massive boost to tourism in the 1980s and I think there is a need to highlight the vast diversity of attractions on offer both nationally and overseas. We often hear guests remark that they stumbled across the Dales by mistake and they never realised the breathtaking beauty of the area.” He hopes this is about to change and reveals that a new TV series in the spring entitled The Dales should hopefully provide a much needed ‘tonic’ for tourism in the area. There can be no doubt that times have been tough for many hoteliers over recent years, but this is a trend the Stone House Hotel appears to have bucked, having its best ever trading year in 2010. However, Chris does admit there’s little cause for optimism over the coming year. He says: “People in the public sector have lost job security and the private sector is being hit from all sides with the VAT increase, rising fuel prices and the high cost of living. This, coupled with massive price reductions in the large hotel chains, increasing competition and the increase in food costs, means that success in 2011 is definitely in the balance.” It’s at times like these that Chris finds himself questioning his choice of career: “Finding a balance between work and play can be very difficult in this job and many long hours have taken their toll on my personal life. It’s only fairly recently that both Peter and myself have managed to let go of the wheel a little and discover that the world will not end if we are not at the helm 24/7!” When it comes to the question of what he thinks makes a good hotelier, he feels it is someone who is both perceptive to the needs of his guests and deals with any request, no matter how strange it may seem. He recalls an incident where one particular visitor, on seeing the hotel advertised in a pet magazine, asked if he could bring along his African parrot. Chris and Peter duly obliged and it is this can-do attitude he feels is essential in his line of work. He says: “The best hoteliers make an effort to get to know who they are dealing with and endeavour to make them feel special.” He
also feels that one of the greatest rewards of the job comes when a guest returns to the hotel, adding: “That’s the only compliment that really means something as actions speak louder than words.” When it comes to choosing a hotel himself, Chris prefers a city centre or seaside location. On the rare occasions he does get time off, he looks for a complete contrast to his life in the Dales. He adds: “Recently I have discovered Edinburgh – I love its vibrancy and fashionable bars and hotels but at the same time it’s steeped in history and great architecture. York is another favourite and I do have a soft spot for the coast, Whitby in particular!” Closer to home, the third generation of the Stone House family is currently learning the ropes with Peter’s son Josh learning about the hotel trade, and this may well pave the way for a new venture for Chris and Peter. He concludes: “Opening a second hotel has always had a great appeal for me and a town house hotel in York or Harrogate would be a logical next step. Our existing customer base with the cross-marketing potential would give us a healthy start.” In the meantime, they continue in their quest to maintain the hotel’s success with plans for a sun terrace, installing a disabled access suite, increasing non-resident trade in the restaurant and catering for any other species of bird that guests may bring along.
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– outbound starts from your own website and leads to another, while inbound comes from an external site. • Relevance of linking site: while the number of sites that have links to yours is important to show how popular you Successful search engine optimisation are, Google now takes into account how will get your hotel noticed on the net. significant they are to the visitor. The Michael Cockman looks at the key more relevant the link on your website the better valued it will be by the search ways to keep ahead of the competition engine, so one from the regional tourist organisation is far more valuable than a link from a shop. • Authority of linking site: it is far better ave you ever been approached by of competitors. If you are a hotel near to have one link from a very important someone offering to ‘do SEO’ for Sheffield then ‘hotel’ ‘Sheffield’ and or popular site than lots of links from less £50 a month? Hopefully by the end of possibly ‘city centre’ would be a good authoritative ones. this piece you will know what they are start. Choose up to five words or phrases • Internal links: these essentially tell talking about. In a nutshell, search engine and when deciding which ones to search engines such as Google and web optimisation or SEO is about getting your choose, try using something like Google’s users where the other pages on your site hotel’s website on the first page of Google, own keyword tool. are. They can also help users navigate Yahoo or any of the other search engine • Page content: when drafting your through the site more easily and can be sites. It is important to feature on the first website, remember that quality counts used to increase the placement of your page because: and there is no substitute for well-written keywords and phrases. • the number one result is clicked 42 per copy. Even if your site is readily accessible • Popularity in social community: cent of the time, while the number 10 by the search engines, customers won’t increased use of social networking result is only clicked three per cent return if the text is dull, difficult to read or sites such as Facebook and consumer• the top five results get 80 per cent of full of spelling mistakes. You also need to generated media such as TripAdvisor has the clicks. update the site on a regular basis as both had a huge impact in the last 12 months. What we are talking about here are guests search engines and customers are more Google now considers how important who don’t actually put the hotel name in likely to visit if they notice the content is your website is among your peers in this the search box but are carrying out a more refreshed regularly. online world. random trawl of the internet. You need to • Page title: this is one of the most • Rate of new inbound links: whatever imagine what keywords they may use and important things that Google evaluates you do, don’t try and get inbound links incorporate these into your website. to determine what is on a web page. It is just for the sake of it. Look for quality For some of you, appearing on the first best to put about two or three keywords sites that don’t compete with your page won’t be too difficult. If someone is in the page title (this is the tab that you own website but rather complement looking for a room in a small village and will see on a Google it. Google likes to see they key in the name of that village there search result) and bear a steady increase of think about the may only be two hotels in that area. Chances in mind that there is relevant authority links, specific words and are, you will then appear in the top five only room for about 50 not a large sudden phrases that website results. However, if you have a hotel in characters and spaces. increase of less visitors are likely to Sheffield, there is increasing competition • Page URL: each of reputable links. and you need to choose keywords that get your web pages has As you can see this is a use to search for you your hotel higher in the list of rankings than a distinct URL or very complex subject and your competitors. The following factors need uniform resource I have only been able to be taken into account when your website locator, and Google will use the words to give you a flavour of what is involved. is being built: of this URL to determine what is on But at least you will now be able to have a the web page, so use your keywords in knowledgeable conversation with someone Keywords the URL. who wants to ‘do SEO’ on you! • Finding them: the first thing you need Links to do is think about the specific words Michael Cockman is a hotel marketing mentor and The second element of SEO is links which writer who specialises in helping independent hotels and phrases that website visitors are maximise their revenue opportunities. You can subscribe persuade Google that your website is a likely to use to search for you. Phrases to his newsletter at www.hotelprofitsystems.com valuable resource in the hotel community. like ‘romantic getaway’ are far too where you will also find details of his book Putting Heads On Beds. They can either be outbound or inbound general and will bring up thousands
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Let Us Entertain You In-room entertainment technology has evolved enormously in recent years, and it makes good business sense to offer the best systems possible, says Andrea Ashfield
oday’s guests are used to advanced technology both at home and on the move, which means the hospitality industry has a lot to live up to when it comes to in-room entertainment. These days, hotels can take advantage of sophisticated systems that provide not only TV and movies, but also offer access to the internet, stream music and allow guests to manage elements of their stay from the comfort of their own room. The recently published ITB Travel Trends Report 2010/2011 forecasts that in future ‘smart rooms’ will be designed with relaxing curves rather than straight lines, and interactive features will be integrated into walls. Innovations may include intelligent energy beds, wall displays that transform into largescale TVs and screens with interactive interfaces. The report also predicted that it will be possible to tailor the environment to suit each guest using
personalised lighting and climate control settings. In fact, some of these concepts have already been tested and showcased at inHaus2, a commercial research facility in Germany. While technology like this may take a while to filter down through the industry, there are many systems available now that can help to improve in-room entertainment. Marc Budie, technology director at hotel communications provider Quadriga, thinks guests expect in-room entertainment to be as good as their own systems at home. He says: “Consumer demand for choice and flexibility when staying in a hotel has become ever-more apparent in recent years. Guests expect a home-from-home experience at the very least and want superb quality and content delivered via the latest TVs in an easy-to-use way.” Recent advances in technology and the subsequent growth in popularity of mobile devices have also meant that guests bring their own content into
the hotel. This has affected the take-up of internet services within hotels and Quadriga has noticed increased demand from its customers for tiered bandwidth solutions that enable hotels to offer a range of internet packages and price points. For many hotels, the sheer speed at which technology evolves can make it difficult to keep up. Kevin Palmer, head of hospitality sales at isrighthere, says: “TV vendors have long been a thorn in the side of the industry, with seven year contracts that have forced hoteliers to
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been a thorn in the side of the industry buy a ‘technology moment in time.’ Even forward-thinking hotels have found it a challenge to stay on top of the latest advances. Palmer adds: “Hotels have embraced flat-screen technology as prices have tumbled in an effort to update their in-room look and keep pace with design changes. However, even the so-called next generation IPTV services still rely on banks
of servers in the basement, delivering pre-defined limited content via a satellite dish and aerial. Sure, the interfaces may be sleeker, but it’s the same old stuff, just badged differently.” Palmer thinks it is possible for hotels to remain current without the need to continuously replace equipment, and isrighthere is currently launching a service that uses cloud computing technology to provide TV connected to the outside world. Content is stored centrally, avoiding the need for costly infrastructure within the hotel. A reliable internet connection is needed and each guest bedroom requires a set-top box. This allows the user to access a range of features
including broadcast and internet TV, as well as premium sports events, films and local services such as weather forecasts and other useful information. In-room entertainment technology looks set to continue changing and developing in the years to come, and Quadriga’s technology director Marc Budie believes it makes good business sense to invest in this area. He says: “The take-up of new equipment among consumers is very much driving trends within in-room technology provision.” He has seen first-hand how hoteliers are investing more in state-of-the-art TVs. They are using these to push appealing and relevant content to the guest and as a way of generating additional income. He adds: “Hoteliers can use the TV as a communications channel to realise increased revenue opportunities, while guest profiling ensures that hoteliers are able to optimise loyalty and have the opportunity to evolve and respond to continually changing guest expectations.” Touchscreen technology is also proving useful for the industry and can now be used to help guests access a range of vital information at key points around the hotel. Liam Walsh, European business development manager at Monscierge, says: “Interactive touch screen technology offers hotels a dynamic and user-friendly way
of sharing relevant information that will enhance a guest’s stay.” Monscierge is a provider of touchscreen concierge software, and Walsh says the system can be used to provide guests with user-friendly access to important information such as hotel events and restaurant menus. Originally designed for use within the hotel lobby, the product has recently evolved and can now be situated in other areas, too. He adds: “We have a suite of products that create a propertywide solution anywhere a guest might find useful. Some hotels offer touchscreens by the lift on every floor and we are currently working on submitting an iPad application for approval.”
Hoteliers can use the TV as a
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Shangri-La Hotel, Paris The Shangri-La group has overseen the restoration of a former Parisian royal palace into a contemporary luxury hotel. Jon Chapple investigates what it has to offer
riginally constructed in 1896 as the Palais d’Iéna for Prince Roland Bonaparte, president of the French Geographical Society and nephew of Napoleon I, the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris, which opened its doors on 17 December 2010, occupies one of the most elegant sites in that most elegant of cities. Situated in the historic 16th arrondissement of the French capital, its prominent location among one of the highest concentrations of museums in Europe provides guests with breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower
and River Seine, Les Invalides, the Louvre and Montmartre. To take advantage of this enviable location, over half of the Shangri-La’s 81 rooms have private balconies or terraces allowing guests to soak up the local culture, with 80 per cent also featuring unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine below. The hotel’s location on Chaillot Hill is also adjacent to the imposing Palais de Chaillot and surrounding Trocadéro gardens, the latter of which spans nearly one million square
feet and features countless fountains, sculptures and waterways. But location – as impressive as the Shangri-La’s may be – isn’t everything. As a hotel management chain based in Hong Kong, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts have sought to combine the Bonapartist imperial heritage of the hotel and ornate, Belle Époque grandness of the 16ème area with its own Far Eastern twist: “the Asian art of hospitality and the French art of living.” In a unique fusion of east and west, designer Pierre-Yves Rochon has decorated all rooms and suites in shades of blue, white and ecru “in keeping with both European empire and Asian aesthetics.” Imperial insignias and monograms of Prince Roland are subtly integrated into the architecture and complemented by
the Asian influence in the décor and ambience of the hotel, its restaurants, bar and salons. The interiors offer a pleasing harmony of textures and colours from silk-threaded wallpaper and textured wall panels to refined crystal hardware on custom-made furnishings. Rochon has also paid equal attention to seamlessly integrating new and old. Meticulously studying archive documents and photos of the former Palais d’Iéna, the designer reworked the textures, wallpapers, carpets, lighting fixtures and bath fixtures of the Prince’s era into his new 21st century designs. Shangri-La reportedly dedicated four years to restoring the Palais to its former glory, and general manager Alain Borgers said that the company is “honoured” to have been entrusted with its preservation. All rooms are also equipped with modern conveniences such as complimentary wi-fi and landline internet connection as standard.
The biggest plans for the hotel for 2011 come in the shape of a new “well-being space.” Located in the Prince’s former imperial stables, one storey below the ground floor, the space is nonetheless bathed in natural light,thanks to immense window panels and the slope of Chaillot Hill lowering the elevation of ground level. Available exclusively to hotel guests, the fully-equipped 862-square-foot fitness centre and 50-foot by 16.5-foot swimming pool will offer personal training sessions and European and Asian style massages the latter of which will also be available in the privacy of guests’ rooms and suites. The Shangri-La is also keen to establish itself as a prestigious destination for events. It boasts some 9,150-square-feet in reception areas and event space, divided into three connecting rooms including the Grand Salon, Salle à Manger and Salon de Famille. All are decorated in the hotel’s inimitable style with white marble furniture, triumphant statuettes ▶▶▶
and frescoes. Napoleonic, regal symbols and works of art abound and the view partially overlooks the former stables of Prince Roland. Despite the typical imperial grandeur, the spaces are fully-equipped for modern weddings, seminars, conferences and banquets with plenty of wide, open space and integrated audio-visual functions. Culinary offerings will come in the shape of three restaurants under the direction of executive chef Philippe Labbé, and each will have a distinct character and theme. The first, La Bauhinia, which opened in December, takes its name from the iconic flower that graces the Hong Kong flag – a homage to Prince Roland’s passion for botany – and is intended as the social hub of the hotel. With seating on the ground floor, as well as a mezzanine level in the heart of the hotel beneath the 1930s steel and glass cupola, the airy 80-seat La Bauhinia offers continual service from 6.30am to 11.00pm for business luncheons, afternoon tea or informal get-togethers. Its menu spans western and oriental dishes, focusing on “authentic traditional favourites,” while local “music stylists” Time4Play have conceived a “zen and jazzy” bespoke soundtrack to accompany dining.
The Shang Palace restaurant and L’Abeille (or ‘The Bee’, referring to the imperial insignia of the Bonaparte family) restaurant are due to open their doors in the first quarter of 2011, and will serve traditional gourmet French and Cantonese cuisine, respectively. The hotel also offers 24-hour in-room dining from a select menu developed by Labbé, and Asian-influenced cocktails, featuring exotic flavours like horseradish, wasabi, soy sauce, Szechuan peppers, ginger, kaffir lime and pomegranate. These are all available from Le Bar, a black granite, bronze and mahogany “post-Egyptian” bar and lounge open from 2.00pm to 1.00am each day with music from Time4Play. The Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts group, which states that its core philosophy is one of “sincerity, humility, helpfulness, respect, courtesy and selflessness,” intends to follow up the Shangri-La Paris with similar establishments in London and Vienna. And if the unique and effortless fusion of the historic and contemporary successfully achieved here can be transferred to Shangri-La’s other planned European properties, it could be on to a very good thing indeed.
+33 1 53 67 19 98 or www.shangri-la.com 10 avenue d’Iéna, 75116 Paris, France
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Checking in For over seven years Penny Moore has been at the forefront of a charity that is dedicated to helping workers in the hospitality sector. She reveals more about Hospitality Action, its activities, the people it helps and the future for the organisation
n 1837 the London Coffee House Keepers Association was formed with the purpose of ‘relieving aged and decayed members of the trade, their widows and orphans from reverses of fortune.’ The coffee houses of the capital have long since closed, but the principle of supporting those who provide food, drink and accommodation remains today as Penny Moore, chief executive of Hospitality Action, explains. She says: “Hospitality Action has for 174 years helped people who have worked or currently work in the hospitality industry, and this includes anyone from a school cook up to a Michelin-starred chef and the general manager of a 5-star hotel to someone working in contract catering.” There are few trade charities in the UK
Hospitality Action has for 174 years helped people who have worked or currently work in the hospitality industry
that offer such a comprehensive service and dedicate such time and resources to looking after employees. One of the key ways the charity offers assistance is in the provision of financial aid for those who may have fallen on hard times. Hospitality Action gives essential needs grants or oneoff payments to improve the quality of life.
As Penny says: “The funds can be used to pay for a new bed for someone who has re-located, the repair of a washing machine that has broken down or simply put towards the cost of heating.” Penny also explains that long service within the hospitality sector is not a prerequisite to receiving financial aid: “We can help many more people than some benevolent trade charities and employees don’t need to have worked in the hospitality sector for 10 or 15 years to benefit.” One of the most common reasons employees turn to the charity is when they are unable to work due to ill health, with over 40 per cent of grants in 2010 awarded due to a life-threatening condition. Penny says: “We offer crisis grants for people who may have long-term problems and may be undergoing treatment such as chemotherapy, or have been in hospital for some time, and this monthly payment made over a period of 12 months helps them through the difficult times when they may be on minimum statutory sick pay.” Hospitality Action also provides a family members scheme for retired employees within the hospitality industry who are over pension age. As Penny describes: “It’s a contact scheme for people who may through various circumstances feel isolated, and we send them birthday cards, Christmas cards, gifts and hampers and also provide befriending visits in their homes where volunteers go along for a cup of tea and a chat.”
In 2004 a landmark decision was made that offered even greater support to the hospitality trade. The charity joined forces with the Ark Foundation, which was set up to help those with alcohol and drug problems. Penny says: “The foundation was established over 10 years ago by a man called Michael Quinn who was head chef at the Ritz until he succumbed to alcoholism. During his recovery, he decided he wanted to give something back to the industry, so set up the organisation.” Its aim is to advise students in catering colleges across the UK about the dangers of substance abuse. As Penny explains, “we reach over 10,000 students every year and we have three presenters, all of whom are in recovery, and they go round talking to the students not saying ‘don’t drink’ but simply sharing their own personal experiences.” The charity has also launched Ark for Business which, as Penny describes, “is targeted at commercial properties and businesses and provides training for senior managers on spotting the signs of substance abuse, and advice on supporting employees through these problems.” Penny feels this is a very real problem and it is vital for everyone in the industry to educate their staff and implement a drug and alcohol policy. She adds: “This is a very sociable industry where alcohol is readily available, and what can start off as just a few drinks after work can soon become a life-changing problem.”
Clearly, a charity that offers a wide range of services to such a broad spectrum of people requires substantial funding and there are various ways that Penny, in her capacity as chief executive, achieves this. The major showcase event is the annual Hospitality Ball, which in 2010 successfully raised £100,000 and attracted almost 500 people from across the industry including top chefs Jason Atherton and Pierre Koffman. Another key source of revenue comes through companies opting to support Hospitality Action as their ‘nominated’ charity, and when Premier Inn took on this challenge several years ago the staff raised over £600,000 by staging events such as pyjama parties, cycle rides and raffles. Penny’s own involvement with Hospitality Action started when the company she was working for, 3663 First for Foodservice, chose HA as their nominated charity. She says: “I was heading up the marketing department at the time and I was the key contact between HA and 3663. I came to the charity on a six-month secondment and that was seven years ago!” Penny says that one of her greatest achievements at Hospitality Action has been her involvement in an ad campaign aimed at raising awareness about the charity. This came in the form of a series of posters depicting industry aficionados as victims of life-changing circumstances, with Anthony Worrall Thompson and Heston Blumenthal sleeping rough on the streets. Penny says: “The reason for doing this was that we wanted to grab people’s attention. We thought, what have we got in this industry that stands out, and it’s ‘faces.’ The people involved not only raised awareness about the charity but also its beneficiaries.” They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating and it seems the choice of the celebrity chefs and food critics such as AA Gill and Tom Parker Bowles worked. As Penny confirms: “We did some research before and after the campaign, and awareness went up by 70 per cent which was fantastic.” The charity receives a great deal of support from key figures in the industry and its list of patrons reads like a Who’s Who of the hospitality sector, including legendary British hotelier the Honourable Sir Rocco Forte, Raymond Blanc, the Roux
Brothers, Delia Smith, John Jarvis and owner of a multi-million hotel business, Surinder Arora. There can be no doubt that times have been tough for those working in the hospitality industry and even more so for charities. Penny admits that a lot of companies are battening down the hatches and not allocating the funds they were to charitable causes. However, the generosity of those in the sector never ceases to amaze Penny, and with their continued support she hopes to carry on providing such a wide range of services to the profession. She adds: “We are trying to keep things fresh and relevant. For instance, 15 years ago we were offering sheltered housing but there is
Above: Heston Blumenthal in one of Hospitality Action’s adverts Below: Penny receives a cheque from Raymond Blanc
no longer such demand for that today. We continue to evolve as the times change and I aim to ensure the charity continues to offer the services that people need.” Will she succeed? Well if the current statistics are anything to go by, the answer
I aim to ensure the charity continues to offer the services that people need
is a resounding yes. In 2010 the charity spent £394,666 supporting £1,500 people; had 1,200 family members and reached 11,000 students in 200 colleges and universities in the UK. The numbers may be impressive but the impact the charity has is probably best summed up by one of its beneficiaries. Cook Fiona Wedge lost her husband to liver cancer just five weeks after his diagnosis. When her husband died, Fiona lost the only wage in a household of four children and approached Hospitality Action. Her message to Penny and the charity is “Thanks to your wonderful help I haven’t had to worry about money and that makes things a lot easier even though we will never get over the way our Paul had to go and the great loss without him. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for thinking about us at the worst time of our lives.”
Social media strategies
Talk is cheap Social media sites have become a major force in marketing a hotel. Mike Kiely looks at how networks such as Facebook and Twitter can keep people talking about your business and brand
hen celebrity Tweeter Stephen Fry had the honour of being the first guest to check in at the newly-restored Savoy off London’s Piccadilly, he was quickly telling followers on the social network site how ‘outrageously lucky’ he was. The news no doubt left e-brand marketing executives the world over feeling similarly blessed – there is nothing they like more than satisfied customers using their smartphones to highlight great service and beautifully appointed interiors. Interactive communication has opened up a new front in the marketing war to the extent that today’s world is no place for hoteliers who don’t realise the potential social media tools have for making or breaking a business plan.
Twitter and Facebook are more than virtual playgrounds for teenagers too lazy to get out of bed. Similarly, the business network LinkedIn isn’t solely the commercial equivalent of Friends Reunited. If you thought YouTube was only music videos and family pets playing pianos, then check out the channels devoted to the likes of the Dorchester Collection and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. “The rise of Twitter and Facebook and other sociallydriven channels has been instrumental in building brand awareness, as well as inspiring confidence in the brand and product,” says Lynne Peachey, e-communications manager for the British Hospitality Association. The location-based mobile platform Foursquare is another key development. She adds: “It
Interactive communication has opened up a new front in the marketing war
allows users to connect with friends and update their location and effectively check in to your hotel and promote their stay. To make it more engaging, points are awarded for checking in at member venues.” Peachey has been impressed by the speed at which the hotel industry has realised the potential of social
Social media strategies
media strategies, whether it is large budget groups such as Best Western or proprietor-led properties such as Linthwaite Country House in Cumbria. One such brand embracing this marketing revolution is Premier Inn. Why is digital so important to the operation? According to head of marketing Steve Conway: “Our website and social media platforms are the first ports of call for many customers who want to find out more about Premier Inn, or who want to book a room with us. Therefore, we wish to make all digital platforms as accessible and user-friendly as possible.” This approach is reflected in initiatives such as the group’s Twitter concierge pilot programme, which provides e-recommendations on local theatres or activities for the children and promotions via the company’s Facebook page. There is also a dedicated mobile app, says Conway, which is compatible with iPhone, Android, Nokia and BlackBerry. Communicating with customers in this way is not just benefiting Premier Inn in the here and now. Conway adds: “By tracking online channels, we are also able to identify key online trends and interests that may influence our future digital strategy.” Keeping pace with such developments is often where agencies come into play. Senior travel strategist at Bigmouth Media Anneli Ritari says: “They will keep you up-to-date with innovations. Turn your back for a few weeks and a dozen changes have passed you by.” Not only do these agencies speak the digital language fluently, they also possess the expertise to tailor a social media strategy to a particular market. Ritari concludes: “Effective digital marketing campaigns are those which are entirely strategic and tactically-managed according to a hotelier’s objectives and budget.” Boutique group Hotel Du Vin chose agency Leighton to revamp its online presence. What were its objectives? According to client servivces manager Lyle McCalmont: “The main goal was to provide a rich, tailor-made experience for the user. In order to achieve this, there was a requirement to capture as much user information as possible, and with this Hotel du Vin can provide online users with content that is relevant to them. For example, if a user selects York as their preferred hotel within their profile, the site can then dynamically display user-generated content such as promotions, events and deals based at, or around, York.” The group’s 14-strong presence across the UK, says McCalmont, meant his agency could maximise the potential of social media because such a geographical spread facilitates engagement of a large audience. And going forward? McCalmont believes: “Social media is still very much in the spotlight when considering growth of its digital marketing strategy.
As well as providing a tailored, user-generated experience for website visitors, Hotel du Vin is keen to ensure a seamless marketing strategy that encompasses mobile and email.” Reaching out across the nation’s bandwidth means brand protection is a must. In essence it is a response to the power of the web to quickly disseminate positive or negative messages about a particular product or company. In the case of the hospitality industry a great deal of this feedback can be accessed at TripAdvisor. According to TripAdvisor’s head of sales Martin Verdon-Roe there are over 40 million users and 500,000 hotels listed on the site. He has no doubts about the impact social media is having on the industry. He says: “Holiday and hotel choices are highly personal ones and consumers want the advice of like-minded travellers rather than a glossy marketing brochure, which is why social media – user-generated content in particular – is so important.”
consumers want the advice of likeminded travellers rather than a glossy marketing brochure
A natural concern for the industry regarding the TripAdvisor concept is editorial integrity. What checks are in place to ensure the system is not being manipulated through reviews posted in order to deliberately damage reputations and/ or gain a commercial advantage? “Every review is screened by our proprietary site tools that are continuously upgraded, and a team of dozens of quality assurance specialists investigate suspicious reviews,” says Verdon-Roe. He affirms that, “attempts to manipulate the system are rare, as the vast majority of hoteliers understand the tremendous risk to their reputation and business if they attempt to post fraudulent information on review sites like TripAdvisor.” Reputation and business are at the heart of the online battle for business. McCalmont estimates there are 500 million active users logging on to Facebook, and over 175 million Twitter users – that’s an impressive amount of chatter. The key for individual companies is to ensure they have a product that gets virtual tongues wagging. In this constant search for attention, Stephen Fry’s hero Oscar Wilde could have been speaking for every e-brand manager when he said: “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
Advertisement Feature Hoteliers can get the Big Picture by capitalising on media exposure Lincolnshire-based TV company Big Picture Television, maker of the TV travel show Discover Britain, has recently travelled throughout the UK producing virals for a variety of hospitality establishments. Director Kevin Glancy explained how hoteliers in particular had been keen to utilise the footage as a marketing opportunity, saying: “It started off with companies from the hospitality industry being featured on the programme, these people loved the footage so much that they wanted to use the clip for purposes such as a web video, to place on TripAdvisor, to upload to YouTube and to put on disc for marketing events. We could see the footage was more important to those companies than just television.” The client list is also impressive, ranging from hotels such as the Park Lane Mayfair through to boutique hotels such as Sawrey House in the Lake District. Emily Roberts who is the TV presenter for Discover Britain and has her own cookery programmes, explained her love and passion for the hospitality industry by saying: “The UK has some fine establishments, which I love to champion. For every hotel, guest house or park we have featured, we give 100 per cent to the script, voiceover and filming. Both viewers and
owners alike prefer the genuine and passionate way the clip comes across, however the establishments are just great and I feel proud to be able to work with them. We need to continue shouting about how great this country is for a holiday or break away, you do not have to go abroad to have a great time.” Both Kevin and Emily are keen to keep up this promotion of the industry and they know only too well the power that a video viral can bring. Kevin mentioned: “Customers want full information and they prefer to see it by video. When a potential customer is looking to book accommodation they want to be excited by it and want to know as much as possible. Photos on a website are nice, but they only tell half a story.” Due to their success, and now the demand for virals within the hospitality industry, Big Picture is now offering this service across the board. For the sum of £595 the company will produce a three minute HDV viral including script, voiceover, music, graphics, DVD, download facility and will feature hotels on their new TV series of Discover Britain due for broadcast on Sky. Call 01472 240 993 or visit www.bigpicturetv.co.uk
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Better by design With the wealth of styles and materials giving designers carte blanche to create striking designs, Gary Crosbie explains why the hotel bathroom has become so much more than just a functional afterthought
he humble bathroom has undergone dramatic change over the past decade, moving away from the simply functional to become a key selling point of a hotel. Founder of MKV Design Maria Vafiadis affirms: “Guests like a well-done bathroom, even more than a well-designed room. The revolution is in the bathroom and not the bedroom.” Hoteliers are responding to this trend and recognising that guests are looking for spa-like sanctuaries offering an escape from the outside world. Features such as walk-in wetrooms, roll-top tubs, massaging showerheads and whirlpool spas offer a feel of luxury that most people can only aspire to in their own homes.
One hotel that has recognised the importance of the bathroom is Le Meurice in Paris, one of the Dorchester’s collection of luxury hotels. It scooped the prize for the ‘best bathroom in a hotel in Europe’ at the Villegiature Awards 2010, which honours the elite of the European hotel market. Leading journalists from the travel media were united in their praise for the Philippe Starck-inspired design incorporating black and white Italian marble. Closer to home, boutique hotel guide Mr and Mrs Smith has listed the top 10 best hotel bathrooms across the globe including Barnsley House in the Cotswolds with its sleek minimalist design and plasma TVs. According to the review website
“wow-inducing bathrooms have become as important as seductive boudoirs and they’re a great opportunity to showcase imaginative design.” Managing director of Ramparts Interior Contracts, Gary Crosbie, agrees that the bathroom has become an integral part of the hotel’s branding and hoteliers should be looking to the latest technologies and trends to meet guest’s expectations. Ramparts has been in business for over 40 years and has provided refurbishment and fit-out services for every conceivable size of hotel throughout the UK. The company is currently working on a country house in north Wales, a budget hotel in Chester and a Premiership footballer’s
Above: Double bath tubs at Barnsley House by Mark Bolton Below: Coworth Park
home – a diverse array of projects both in specification and design. When asking Gary what prompted the clients to approach the company he comments: “We live in a very price sensitive marketplace. Ramparts was able to offer the best value solution for each of these projects, each with its own challenges.” He goes on to explain how the design brief for the budget hotel was wholly cost-led, while the work on the footballer’s home required the shipping of materials from overseas. For the owners of the country house it was very much a case of re-couping their losses. As Gary explains: “They had designers in the past who misunderstood the basic fact that a hotel bathroom is a commercial ▶▶▶
investment and must show a bottom-line profit.” Significant overspending meant a return on the investment was going to be difficult, but Ramparts was able to achieve the ‘look’ using contract quality fittings at a reasonable cost. Gary says the prime aim of any bathroom refurbishment is to make money for the owner by increased revenue and balance sheet value, which can be achieved by guests recommending the hotel or returning again. He also adds: “A hotel refurbishment is a commercial investment and what you would have in your home you would not necessarily use in a contract environment, because of durability, health and safety and housekeeping issues.” He says that when it comes to bathroom design, hoteliers should look for materials that are easy-to-clean and avoid exposed pipework wherever possible as this harbours dirt. He also adds that it should be: “bright enough to apply make-up and shave, have a good shower and a comfy loo seat and have taps that operate simply and smoothly. Get these basics right and you are there.” Gary says one of the common mistakes hoteliers make when refurbishing bathrooms is to choose domestic quality fittings, which after a few months will start to show signs of wear and tear. He says that when it comes to the choice of materials hoteliers must remember that bathrooms are built for commercial use and are often not looked after by guests. He advises
“purchasing good quality brassware and fittings from a reputable manufacturer. It’s money well-spent, as whole-life maintenance and replacement costs should be accounted for at the outset.” He also offers a note of caution on the problems of working with wood in bathrooms: “I am personally not a fan of tiled flooring on timber as dampness can cause movement, which allows moisture to work its evil ways. It’s the same with walls – dampness behind tiles can cause problems in rooms below, which can be avoided by using a tiling backer board.” The designer behind the sleek, contemporary bedrooms at Manchester’s Hilton Hotel, Francois Bertrand, emphasises the importance of the bathroom. He says: “You can tell so much about a hotel from its bathrooms. It’s like when you go to a restaurant: if the toilets are clean and orderly, you feel you are in a nice environment.” What guests don’t want to see is chrome showing signs of rust, a cheap plastic toilet seat hanging off its hinges or moulding silicon sealant, which Gary describes as a pet hate, insisting on using “a dedicated professional silicon application that may cost double but lasts much longer.” He adds that cutting corners on finish and quality is a false economy and for areas such as bathrooms installing fixtures that can withstand constant usage is key to a successful design. According to Gary:
“Spend too little and you’ve wasted money. The entry point for a decent quality commercial bathroom is around the £3,500 point.” When it comes to current trends and styles Gary comments on how the “white tile is being usurped by natural stone finishes with mosaic features.” Global construction consultant Davis Langdon & Everest further affirms this, adding that: “Bathrooms are an important source of differentiation and present a great opportunity to introduce contemporary design themes. At present, glass, natural stone and high-quality lighting are the preferred signature components.” Not surprisingly, the environment is high on everyone’s agenda and hoteliers are increasingly embracing eco-technology. Gary says it is becoming more important for hoteliers to show they are reducing their carbon footprint: “It is a good selling point to be able to show the hotel operates efficiently and helps the planet.” He confirms that many of his clients are now looking to install energy-saving features, such as flow regulators on taps and showers, toilet tank divertors and tap aerators, which are not only inexpensive but can reduce water consumption by up to 30 per cent. One of the major projects Ramparts undertook was the £18 million refurbishment of the Midland Hotel in Manchester for Qhotels, with an 80-strong
team of specialist contractors and subcontractors stripping out all the bathrooms. Gary adds: “This is probably the most complicated part of a refurbishment, involving all the building trades working in the smallest room at the same time – a real test of management and quality skills.” He says there is added pressure on the site managers with all this activity in such a confined space, and as access to the bathroom comes via the bedroom, there is a very real risk of damaging newly-finished surfaces and carpets. Gary adds that the secret to a successful bathroom refurbishment, whether it’s a 5-star hotel or a small B&B, is careful planning. He says: “Make sure everybody is clear about when they are required and what they need to do, and there should be close supervision of the trades on site.” Ultimately, the benefits of a good bathroom refurbishment can reap dividends. According to the Royal Institute of British architects, “it’s the hotel bathroom that wins the booking.” When guests access a hotel website or look at a brochure they not only want to see where they’ll be sleeping, they will also look at the layout, design and style of the bathroom. As Gary concludes, “offer guests a clean, functional room with quality fixtures and fittings and you are well on the way to getting that allimportant repeat booking – the ultimate seal of approval.”
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Business Matters Hoteliers need to capitalise on the upturn in trade in the hotel sector, advises Andreas Scriven, director at Christie + Co. This includes curbing cost cutting measures and responding to the rise in corporate demand
rading conditions have been tough for capital expenditure programmes. for hotel businesses across the UK The lack or misallocation of capital since the middle of 2008, when the effects expenditure budgets could see a significant of the global economic crisis first started number of hotels miss out on what is to filter through to the hotel sector. As finally becoming a more distinct possibility consumer confidence started to waiver, – an upturn in trade. Hoteliers who have occupancy levels declined and revenue per been able to invest in their hotels will be available room (RevPAR) started to fall. in a much stronger position to compete Fortunately, 2010 was the year in which for returning customers than those who a sense of stability returned to the hotel haven’t. Hoteliers with franchise or brand market. The trading landscape, although agreements should also beware – a hotel far from easy, was much clearer than it had that hasn’t received sufficient investment been over the previous two years, and hotel is at risk of affecting a brand’s reputation, businesses were able to focus on improving which is of significant concern to brand revenue, while keeping a watchful eye on guardians who are looking to protect their costs. The fall in regional occupancy levels brand equity. gradually slowed and RevPAR showed Lenders are also taking an increasingly slightly positive growth during the second active interest in the capex and FF&E half of the year, albeit from a low base. (furniture, fixtures and equipment) reserves While hoteliers were able to enter of the hotels they have an interest in, to 2011 with greater optimism, the big check whether the funds are being used as question they should intended or as a means ask themselves now is: to mitigate trading ‘Is my business in the “Is my business in the shortfalls. Lenders best position to make best position to make may be willing to fund the most of an upturn in capital expenditure the most of an upturn trade?” The vast majority programmes in return in trade?’ of businesses have cut for greater stakes in their costs dramatically hotel businesses, to in order to survive the tough trading avoid finding themselves with permanently conditions, but the severity of these cuts impaired assets on their books. is of major concern to the hotel sector. If Employment levels and service quality too much cost is driven out of a business, should also be key concerns for hoteliers service quality, employment levels and this year. While we appreciate that the general condition of the hotel could staff costs have risen as the national all be compromised. minimum wage has increased, hoteliers’ Capital expenditure (capex) is often the cost saving initiatives could have a first thing to be cut during a downturn, detrimental effect on staff retention as hoteliers choose to focus on shortlevels and service quality. term survival over long-term strategy. A The behaviour of consumers over the significant number of hotel owners either last few years has surprised many in the cannot afford, or ignore the ongoing need hotel industry. Budget hotel operators
were expected to grow market share as customers traded down, and although there was growth in the budget sector, it was perhaps not as great as expected. Customer expectations are constantly evolving, so hoteliers need to update what they are offering to stand the greatest chance of winning repeat business. Fortunately, there is some good news for hoteliers who have been forced to make up for a shortfall in corporate trade by offering low cost leisure deals. Many of the regional operators we speak to are reporting encouraging growth in corporate demand, as business customers increase their conference, training and events expenditure. The return of corporate trade, which is traditionally more profitable, will hopefully mean that hoteliers will become less reliant on low cost deals and special offers. We don’t deny that 2011 will be another challenging year for the hotel industry, but conditions have certainly stabilised and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that they will start to improve. Hoteliers may feel a little battle-weary after a difficult few years, but they need to take a fresh look at their businesses and ready themselves for the upturn – they simply can’t afford to stand still and miss out on the opportunities it will bring.
A market leader in professional business services, Christie + Co has been providing valuable advice to clients within the hospitality, leisure, care and retail sectors for over 75 years. The company’s specialists operate from the extensive network of offices across the UK and in Europe offering valuation and investment services, assistance with the sale and acquisition of businesses and extensive knowledge of the hotel market both at home and abroad. For further information go to www.christie.com
Whiter than white Keeping pace with the demands of the daily laundry can be a challenge for anyone running a hotel. The key question is whether to take on this task or outsource to a professional company?
cent over the last year.” If hoteliers do opt for on-site laundry facilities they can buy outright, or choose a leasing scheme or a fixed price rental agreement. Armstrong says it has seen a marked increase in the numbers of hoteliers signing up to fixed price rental agreements. ne of the key areas for any hotel is Supplier to the hotel, catering and leisure include “the ability to keep a tighter control presentation, and this includes the on quality and finish, greater responsiveness sector Stalbridge Linen Services recently linen – soft towels, crisp, white sheets and conducted a survey into what its customers from laundry under the same roof and the immaculate tablecloths all speak volumes expect from a linen hire and laundry ability to keep lower stocks of linen.” and will ultimately impact on a guest’s stay. service. Among the top ranked answers were Some argue that any on-site equipment The challenge for hoteliers is how to keep can never offer the same quality finish cleanliness and quality of linen, condition pace with the vast volumes of laundry that provided by professional linen and laundry of delivered goods, completeness of delivery mount up on a daily basis. Using ordinary and overall value for money. Commenting hire services, but Armstrong disagrees. domestic washing and drying machines on the findings, sales and marketing director The company not only supplies the is time consuming and costly, as they are at Stalbridge David Hill says: “This implies same machines to hoteliers as it does to simply not equipped to cope with the large that despite a tough economic climate, professional launderers, it also insists on quantities of linen needed for everyday which is testing virtually everyone in the correct installation and operation. One of commercial use. The key question is whether the most common reasons hoteliers fail to sector to the limit, quality and service are to install commercial washing facilities still the bywords for success.” get that all-important professional look in the hotel, or employ the services of a Afowen Laundry is one of the UK’s is by using the equipment incorrectly. professional linen hire and laundry service? leading regional linen hire suppliers serving Armstrong not only offers an installation Armstrong Commercial Laundry Systems service but backs this up with continuing 30,000 hotel bedrooms across England and supplies a wide range of on-premises Wales. The company’s managing director after-sales support and ensuring staff are equipment to the hospitality sector. The Mark Woolfenden believes the benefits properly trained to operate the machines. company has a broad client base from of linen hire are numerous – it not only Managing director of Girbau UK Peter smaller boutique hotels to large chains and Marsh affirms: “There is no reason why avoids significant capital outlay, but can it finds the key reasons hoteliers want to be more flexible. He points out that linen an OPL operation with the right skills wash laundry on site are control, quality costs have risen by over 50 per cent in the and training cannot maintain the highest and cost. Many hoteliers want the freedom standards of finish.” last six months due to a global shortage of to process their own linen when they want, Cost was the biggest factor that prompted cotton, and this increase in price is set to without being at the mercy of a supplier’s continue. He says: “We invest over the Norbreck Castle Hotel to install its workload and delivery service. £2.2 million a year in linen and that buying new equipment from Girbau UK. General Global manufacturer and supplier manager of the hotel Tony Banks comments: power helps us to purchase linen at rates a of commercial and industrial laundry single hotel can never achieve.” “Thanks to the machines’ energy efficiency equipment Girbau UK says the advantages we have been able to offset the rise in energy This is a point affirmed by Stalbridge of running an on-premises laundry facility prices and cut our laundry bills by 14 per Linen Services, which has taken the
decision not to pass the dramatic hike in cotton prices on to its customers. Sales and marketing director David Hill says: “We are constantly monitoring our suppliers to ensure we obtain the best possible prices, and our day-to-day operating costs to ensure that we give our customers the best possible prices.” Mark Woolfenden says that with so many products on the market, it can be difficult for hoteliers to know what linen performs well in a commercial environment, through countless wash cycles. His advice is to pass this responsibility on to a company that has experience of testing and trialling new products. He says: “We are buying new stock every week, so we’re improving and replacing linen more aggressively.” He also says that despite the current economic climate, many hotels are refusing to compromise on quality. He adds: “There has been a considerable increase in demand for higher end linen, with hotels realising that in order to compete effectively, they need to invest in high quality linen and upgrade the towels to satisfy the guests.” He challenges those who say there is more flexibility in having laundry facilities on-site and insists that a well-run operation will always be able to cater for its clients. He says: “In a business where we are sending out over 1.3 million items every week, we have considerable flexibility so, if a hotel in Cardiff needs 200 extra towels for a weekend when the rugby is on, it’s not a problem.”
He also says that hotels that buy their own laundry are often reluctant to change their stock as they’ve had to pay such a huge capital cost. He adds: “A linen hire service can help with the peaks and troughs, so we supply different coloured table linen for weddings with lots of ivory and pink cloths and then red and green for Christmas.” He does admit it is possible for hoteliers to achieve that clean, crisp finish using on-site facilities if they have the space and money to install the necessary equipment. He says: “If you take towels, we put them through towel folding machines, which provide a perfect French-fold and
they are presented to the customer very professionally.” However, for the hotels that hand-fold items, the presentation won’t be as good and getting the starching levels right in linen can be problematic. Managing director of Girbau UK Peter Marsh says there is now a trend developing for hoteliers to utilise both services. He admits: “Specialist laundries can offer efficiency savings over small OPL operations, especially for daily volumes of bedding and towels, so many hotels outsource these items while preferring to process more specialist items such as table linen, uniforms and customer laundry.” When weighing up the pros and cons of on-premise laundry facilities versus laundry and linen hire, one thing becomes clear: hoteliers cannot underestimate the importance of cleanliness. A report by the Mystery Dining Company has revealed that 90 per cent of guests will base their decision to return to a hotel on how clean it looks, and this extends to the linen. In today’s increasingly competitive environment a crisp, clean, white towel or bed sheet may mean the difference between a repeat booking and a guest checking-in at the hotel down the road. Supplier listing
Afowen Laundry: www.afonwenservices.com Armstrong Commercial Laundry Systems: www.armstrong-laundry.co.uk Girbau UK: www.girbau.co.uk King of Cotton: www.kingofcotton.co.uk Stalbridge Linen Services: www.stalbridge-linen.com
can often make or break a hotel in the eyes of the modern, discerning customer. “A large part of the perceived value of a hotel guest’s stay is the quality of products they find in their room,” comments Yorkshire-based supplier H2k, whose skincare products are stocked in top hotels, salons, spas and restaurants, and are also sold online. Priding itself on its green credentials, H2k works only with recyclable, refillable bottles to assist its customers in achieving their environmental targets. s the British hospitality recognise the impact of cutting back too All H2k products are also cruelty-free industry continues to grow much, especially in areas that are sure to and many are made in the UK to support more competitive by the day, it’s the little leave a lasting impression on guests. British business and manufacturing. touches that are increasingly making all the Amenities such as guest supplies, although The company also has its own in-house difference. Although the economic climate not always at the forefront of the average recycling policy, which includes becoming of recent years has naturally meant hoteliers hotelier’s mind, are one of the first things a carbon-neutral through its support for UK have had to tighten purse strings in such guest will notice upon stepping into their tree planting, giving an added element of a crowded market, it’s still important to adopted room for the first time, and as such, value at no extra cost.
Hoteliers looking for ways to improve their in-room experience are fast realising the importance of quality guest supplies. Jon Chapple explores some of the latest products on the market
2 “When using H2k you can be assured you are dealing with a reputable supplier and friendly and helpful staff who will deliver an excellent brand of toiletries ontime,” adds the company. “We are creating new products all the time, which is how we keep ahead of our competition and help our customers achieve their excellent in-room amenity targets.” New from H2k for this year is a luxury collection of ‘pamper packs’, which include items such as foot balm, sun cream, refresher wipes and hand and nail cream. Sysco Guest Supply, a division of Sysco Inc, a leading supplier of amenities and in-room accessories to the hotel and travel industry, represents a number of the most prestigious skin care brands in the business including Salvatore Ferragamo, Hermés and Pecksniff’s. The latest addition to its roster is iconic London brand Kenneth
Turner, whose strikingly-packaged Blue Tangerine guest collection is sure to brighten up any hotel bathroom. Blue Tangerine is a fresh, uplifting fragrance containing extracts of lemon, orange and mandarin oils. It also features “head notes of mint and camphor and body notes of lavender, violet and patchouli.” The range includes shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion in both 40 millilitre and 60 millilitre sizes, plus ancillary items. Guests can also enjoy the San Francisco brand Agrari, whose brisk lemon verbena fragrance “evokes the fresh, clear exuberance of lemon-scented verbena leaves, enhanced with a touch of Caribbean lime and hints of rose and jasmine.” Hair and skin care items are all available and perfect for the discerning fragrance connoisseur.
A soft, fluffy dressing gown and a pair of slippers is a luxurious, unexpected rarity for most regular business travellers and weekenders, a fact BC Softwear is seeking to change. “A dressing gown is not something people pack in a suitcase,” comments the company, “and, after a long drive, getting out of your work clothes and slipping on a soft, comfortable bath robe, even if it’s just to answer the door for room service, has both a practical and a luxury element.” Selling customised robes embroidered with a hotel’s logo in a smart gift box, BC Softwear provides a range of gowns to fit every budget and environment. All robes are super-soft, made using the finest quality cotton and are easy to wash and launder. 1. BC Softwear: www.bcsoftwear.co.uk 2. H2k: www.h2kskincare.com 3. Sysco: www.guestsupply.co.uk
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Events IMEX 2010
EVENTS 24 February
Tourism & Leisure Show Five Lakes Resort Maldon, Essex www.tourismandleisureshow.co.uk 28 February – 2 March
ScotHot SECC, Glasgow www.scothot.co.uk 1 – 3 March
Expowest Cornwall Royal Cornwall Showground Wadebridge, Cornwall www.expowestexhibitions.com 1 – 3 March
International Confex Earls Court, London www.international-confex.com 2 March
VINEX & HORECA Forum Brno Exhibition Centre Brno, Czech Republic www.bvv.cz/vinex-gb 6 – 8 March
CRFA Show Direct Energy Centre Toronto, Canada www.crfa.ca/tradeshows/crfashow 12 – 20 March
British Tourism Week Nine-day promotion to raise awareness of tourism to and within Britain www.britainandirelandevent.co.uk
13 – 16 March
29 March – 1 April
Hostex Sandton Convention Centre Johannesburg, South Africa www.hostex.co.za
Hotelex Shanghai New International Expo Centre Shanghai, China www.hotelex.cn
13 – 16 March
31 March – 2 April
IFE (International Food & Drink Event) ExCel, London www.ife.co.uk
Meeting Luxury (International Luxury Travel Exhibition) Lugano Exhibition Centre Lugano, Switzerland www.meetingluxury.com
Britain and Ireland Marketplace (BIM) Grand Connaught Rooms, London www.bim.travel 15 – 16 March
Hotel and Catering Show Bournemouth International Centre Bournemouth www.hotel-expo.co.uk 16 – 17 March
Best of Britain and Ireland Travel Trade Forum, NEC, Birmingham www.britainandirelandevent.co.uk 18 – 23 March
INTERNORGA Hamburg Messe und Congress Hamburg, Germany www.hamburg-messe.de/internorga/in_en 22 – 23 March
South & West Taste and Hospitality Bristol Exhibition and Conference Centre University of the West of England, Bristol www.expowestexhibitions.com 25 – 26 March
Business Start up and Franchise Show Bristol Exhibition and Conference Centre University of the West of England, Bristol www.expowestexhibitions.com
3 – 4 April
ApEx Moncton Agrena Moncton, Canada www.crfa.ca/tradeshows/apex 13 – 14 April
VisitScotland AECC, Aberdeen www.visitscotlandexpo.com 17 – 19 May
The Hotel Show Dubai World Trade Centre Dubai UAE www.thehotelshow.com 24 – 26 May
IMEX Messe Frankfurt Frankfurt Germany www.imex-frankfurt.com 20 June
European Cities Travel Workshop London Hilton Metropole London www.etoa.org
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