Lessons from CEOs: Robin Hutson exclusive

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We caught up with Robin Hutson, co-founder Hotel du Vin and owner Limewood Group to hear his advice on how to best grow your boutique business this year.

What are your top tips for approaching a hotel interior redesign?
We try hard to above all make the interiors comfortable; I believe too many hoteliers and designers are all consumed by creating a trendy/cutting edge look which is more about their egos than the comfort and practicality for the guests. So at LimeWood and The Pig we are trying to create a home from home feel that looks as if it has grown organically not designed from an interior designer’s studio.

How can hotel managers get the most from their staff?
Being a caring employer that puts the needs and aspirations of the staff at the top of the priority list, will always pay dividends. Investment in training and motivating through mapping personal career paths seems to go a long way to getting the most from the team.

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Is it important to keep up with industry trends? How can you best decide whether trends will be long-standing and worth an investment?
There is no point in simply investing in a trend if there isn’t the belief and conviction from the management team to see it through wholeheartedly and with integrity. Understanding the needs of the market and matching those doesn’t always require financial investment, it’s simply an eye for getting the detail right.

How do you approach OTAs and decide which ones to work with?
We work with very few, but look for organisations with a good product fit with us.

How do you stay motivated in your job role?
I love my job and always have. I never wake up in the morning and feel that I don’t want to go to work. I think it’s very sad when talking with other professionals who are just counting down the days to retirement.

Every day is different in our industry, not every day is easy but it’s difficult to get bored with such variety.

Where do you look for inspiration to grow your business?
I admire any entrepreneurial business that is developed with care and passion and can make a profit, so inspiration can come from a host of different directions not just the hotel and restaurant industry.

What qualities do you look for when hiring head chefs?
Individuals with a hunger for food knowledge and an appreciation of the raw ingredient, without this they will never be great. All of our head chefs are home grown, that way you can see what they are about long before they are in charge of a kitchen. I am also very bored with chefs that bully, strut, swear and shout, this crowd will never be a Head Chef for me.

What is your best method of advertising?
Word of mouth and focussed PR.

What is the one life lesson you have learnt?
The perfect employee has not yet been born!

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