With over 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, Chris Penn is highly regarded as the co-founder of Steel Hotels, and for his recent appointment as chairman of Springboard’s London Advisory Board.
However, what most people don’t know about Chris is that we have him to thank for the annual Springboard pantomime – it was his idea. The initiative, created to celebrate diversity within UK hospitality and raise charitable funds for Springboard, was born over coffee one day with the charity’s CEO Anne Pierce. Three years on, Springboard’s 2019 panto, Dick Whittington, had its opening night last night.
We talk to Chris about how the panto is raising community spirit in 2019, and why you should reserve tickets to this unique industry celebration.
Why do you support the charity and the panto?
First of all, it’s an opportunity to allow individuals within a very creative and personable industry show their personalities.
The panto is also a fantastic chance to remove the hierarchy from what is traditionally a very structured industry. The cast and crew are from diverse employment backgrounds, working and being part of something together. Hospitality is an industry that continues to face challenges, ultimately relying upon the demand from consumers. The panto’s about finding new ways of engaging with people, delivering a service and making new friends.
Now in its third year, the show is growing in diversity and attracting new faces, with industry names mixing with those at the start of their careers. It’s a perfect example of Springboard’s intention to diversify the hospitality industry and encourage all kinds of people to collaborate.
Also, for a Christmas ‘Do’, it’s far more exciting than sitting at a black-tie dinner with colleagues. We’re engaging and having fun in a really unique way. We invite anyone to come along – even if you’re not involved in the panto, it’s an affordable way to bring the industry together.
You’ve just been appointed the chairman of Springboard, what will your role involve? What do you see for the future of the charity in 2019 and beyond?
The charity’s an important part of the industry workforce. We can always do more to support infrastructures that encourage learning and development across a very diverse workforce. I’ve always been a big supporter of Springboard because I think it’s so important to develop and inspire grass roots talent, giving us more chance to be a world class industry.
If leaders continue to push this agenda, people of all backgrounds can access and excel the hospitality industry.
Are there still tickets left and why should the industry come see the show?
Come for the laughs, fantastic performances and community spirit. Tickets sell out fast though – last year, we had more supporters than ever, with the theatre at capacity on many nights.
Get your ticket and join the many diverse people and personalities having fun in the name of charity!
Click here to reserve your tickets for the hospitality industry’s most diverse celebration yet.