What makes a great hotel – and a great hotelier?

Danny Pecorelli

Danny Pecorelli – UK Hotelier of the Year

Danny Pecorelli, Managing Director of Exclusive Hotels and Venues was recently voted by his peers as the UK “Hotelier of the Year”. A self depreciating man, modest in his achievements, he is driven by a passion for the industry and an ambition to secure greater recognition of the industry -both as a valued and valuable industry and as rewarding career that attracts the best talent.

To be voted as the Hotelier of the Year, means you have to be recognised as a “Great Hotelier” by running great hotels. Great hotels are created and led by great hoteliers who have the ability to develop great teams. Hotels are complex businesses, they rely on all of the integral and interconnecting parts working all of the time. This can only be achieved when the hotel has a great team who have ownership and empathy with the business. This cannot be achieved without huge attention to detail in thinking through all of the processes that make the hotel work. This is more than just intuitive, this is in developing a team culture, a culture where the individual staff members have the opportunity to build and innovate in delivering the highest standards of customer service.

Danny suggests that the role of the hotelier is to ensure that you focus on the right details – not on every detail, but the right details that really make a difference. You have to have a good understanding of strategy to know and communicate what it is that you’re trying to achieve, to be able to set the framework and feel for the brand. Great hotelier’s are blessed with great observation skills, they move from the big picture to the minute detail almost in the blink of an eye. It is this innate professionalism that provides the leadership of the team that creates a great hotel.

Developing the right ‘ethos and culture’ is often an overused phrase and is little understood, but when it works it can be seen to work in a number of different ways. For example, in Danny’s case, over 50% of all of his team have more than 10 years of service. He has schemes in place to incentivise and reward good customer service and reviews. He’s also enthusiastic and very supportive education and training, not only for his own employees but in sponsoring scholarships at the Edge Hotel School. All these are clear indicators of the supportive culture and ethos that is built from the top of the organisation.

Lainston House, an Exclusive Hotel, Hampshire

Lainston House, an Exclusive Hotel, Hampshire

When his “Hotelier of the Year” award was presented at the Hotel Catey’s award dinner, over 50 of Danny’s employees were present. This was his way of showing his thanks to the people who had made his award possible.

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Danny’s enthusiasm and passion for education and training was a feature of the speech he gave at the Master Innholders Annual Conference in January 2015. Here Danny challenged the industry to attract more talent into the industry by a greater engagement, especially with universities and colleges, especially now, at a time when the number of hospitality courses seems to be declining. The industry has been poor at encouraging and supporting education, yet has a mutual need. Colleges and universities need to attract high quality students and in turn the industry needs to attract high quality staff from those universities and colleges. This must be mutually beneficial and can only be achieved if industry is prepared to contribute by taking an active engagement with colleges and universities. This must be reciprocated and those institutions must be prepared and willing to directly engage with the industry. Hoteliers must have a vision for how industry and education needs to work together, beyond the often shortsighted view of wanting staff ‘now’. Developing such a relationship can only benefit the industry and ensure that the students receive an industry focussed educational experience.

As Danny suggests there is a shortage of talent and as an industry we need to invest in attracting and retaining talent to ensure we can produce ‘great hotels and great hoteliers’ in the future.

About the author

Peter JonesProfessor Peter Jones is the Dean of the eHotelier Academy.  With a distinguished career in hospitality, education and training, Peter has been involved with national and international projects with clients involved in hospitality education.  Peter is a Director the Edge Hotel School and of Hotel Future, a new education and training initiative in Greater Manchester and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Derby. He was also awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to the hospitality industry.

Food for thought – what are qualities that make a great hotel/hotelier? Share your perspective in the Comments section below.

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