The conference attracted more than 400 of the UK’s leading hoteliers to the London Hilton on Park Lane.
Reflecting on the event’s role in the general manager’s calendar, Master Innholders chairman Jonathan Raggett said: “There are a huge number of conferences and trade shows for our industry now, but I still believe this is the most important meeting of minds for general managers serious about achieving excellence right across their business.”
Day one delivered a strong message about the general manager’s instrumental role as the motivator who shapes team performance and the leader responsible for developing relationships and interpersonal skills in team members.
Keith Hatter, CEO of K2 Performance Systems, made comparisons between elite athletes and hotel general managers to describe the difference between performance and results: “Athletes relentlessly work on their capability to increase their performance to enhance their ability to achieve the result. What we always get told is that performance is results. If you confuse performance with results you start having conversations about whether you’ve hit the target. You shouldn’t coach outputs, but coach inputs.
“Your role is not to motivate your people. They’re already motivated. Your role is to create a climate where your people have a choice about how they perform, to induce a sense of autonomy and choice. We’ve worked with banks who don’t understand performance. They coach outcomes and attach money to them. In sport, when you coach outcomes and you attach money to it you get corruption.”
Liz Timoney-White from Franklin Covey talked delegates through four simple ‘disciplines of execution’ for achieving more – Focus, Leverage, Execution, Accountability – advising that most people come unstuck at the stage where leadership strategy needs to be communicated to the team, to enable that strategy to filter through into the organisation’s culture.
“Focus on the wildly important rather than having too many goals. Less is more. There are always going to be more ideas than there is capacity to execute. You can’t achieve all goals with excellence if there are too many. Choose one thing and by changing that one thing, you could make a massive difference to the performance of your business or team,” said Timoney-White.
With a theme of self-development infiltrating the afternoon sessions, delegates heard inspirational stories from recent Master Innholders Scholarship alumnus Michelle Wells, general manager of the Park Plaza County Hall, and Aspiring Leaders Diploma graduate Craig Jackson, guest relations manager at Northcote. Both Wells and Jackson spoke of their life-changing opportunities to further their professional qualifications in the company of talented aspiring and established leaders from hotels all over the world, encouraging conference delegates to consider becoming involved in the Master Innholders’ programmes and helping share knowledge to develop the next generation of hospitality industry leaders.
“My two-week programme at Cornell allowed me to move from being a competent operator to a very strategic general manager, having a vision for my team and developing them through my key learnings,” said Wells.
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, later expressed her dislike of the term “zero hours contracts” during an on-stage interview about the BHA’s ongoing government campaigning, led by Peter Hancock FIH MI, chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels.
“They are not zero hours contracts, they are flexible hours contracts. In the modern era I think flexible hours contracts are right and I fully support having them. I do not like the term ‘zero hours contracts’ though. I think we as an industry need to very careful about the language we use and not fall into the traps that government set for us.”
A gala dinner brought delegates together for an evening of networking and entertainment by the London Community Gospel Choir and guest speaker Tom Parker-Bowles, award-winning food writer and restaurant critic.
The achievements of Exclusive Hotels and Venues’ managing director, Danny Pecorelli, were also recognised in front of his peers, as Mark Lewis, publisher of The Caterer, presented him with the award of Hotelier of the Year 2014.
The dates for next year’s Annual General Managers’ Conference are confirmed as 11th and 12th January 2016 at Grosvenor House, London.