The art of strategic business planning has to be learnt, says top hoteliers


The fast pace of life means hoteliers often struggle to find the time to take a step back and look at the business strategically, so do you find it easy to set aside time to assess the hotel and its needs, away from any distractions of the day-to-day running of the property?


Paul Cookson, general manager, Oddfellows

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Through the strength of our team at Chester, I’m pleased to say – yes I do. We have a structure in place at Oddfellows Hotels that means I’m not needed operationally on a daily basis. I walk the building at 7am, I also religiously hold ‘10 at 10’ (ten minutes with the operations team at 10am to discuss the day ahead) and I always take the time to meet our guests and keep a watchful eye. The rest of the day can be spent planning – I have regular meetings with finance, revenue and marketing HOD’s, suppliers and partners. At the moment, with the imminent launch of Oddfellows On The Park, I take time daily to catch up with Jonathan Slater and the senior team involved in the opening. We have further expansion plans so it’s imperative we spend the time now, tweaking our business model and getting it right!


Rafi Bejerano, director, AB Hotels

Once sucked into the daily life of operations it is very hard to step back and strategise. I endeavour to take a day a month to visit a competitor and use their space to think creatively and relax, as well as refine my thoughts and priorities ready for the weeks ahead. Just getting out of my hotels immediately enables clearer thinking and less distractions.


Adam Rowledge, general manager, Georgian House Hotel

Yes, although it’s not always been that way and I’ve had to work hard to perfect it over the years to make sure the business is monitored closely constantly. It can be easy to get swept away with the day-to-day grind but believe that scheduling dedicated time to do this on my own and with my senior team is so valuable. The time I’ve spent away from the business attending events such as the Master Innholders Conference and St. Julian Scholars meetings has helped me to look at the business from a more strategic angle too. Being awarded a Master Innholders Scholarship where I attended the Cranfield Talent Development Programme which enabled me to understand the hotel’s needs outside of its walls and draw inspiration from other hoteliers.


Eamonn Elliott, chief executive, Rockliffe Hall

I don’t find it difficult to assess Rockliffe. I have structured the team and made the brief very clear. All heads and managers are aware of what they need to deliver. Senior management should be about aiding team players to fulfil their part of the strategy and ensure they have the appropriate resource and freedom of expression to excel. If you have the right product, best people and correct structure, it should work.


Laura Cameron, operations director, Nettleton Collection of Hotels

The quieter winter months allow for us to analyse and review all of our marketing efforts. This time also allows us to implement our bespoke in-house training for all employees which empowers them to deliver an exceptional service for each and every guest. Aside from weekly meetings with all our senior teams at our three hotels, we also hold a large operational meeting and have an overall marketing plan covering seasonal events. This enables us to plan efficiently but still have this flexibility to make and implement immediate decisions if required. Most recently, for example, we developed a multigenerational offer for The Esplanade Hotel which hops on this three generational holiday trend whilst promoting the hotel out of season.