Everyone wants to be original, but some hotels have to work harder than toehr when it comes to standing out from the crowd, says Peter Hancock
Whenever we meet journalists who write about hotels and travel they invariably ask for "something new…something out of the ordinary". This is understandable, as both print and online media love to reveal things their readers may not already know about and to appear to have "discovered" special places to eat and stay.
For a traditional hotel, it's not easy to satisfy these demands, but I marvel at the creativeness of owners and managers who keep coming up with new ways to deliver good old-fashioned hospitality.
One example is the trend towards a more relaxed form of dining, with some of the fussiness removed. We have also seen column inches about hotels stocking a record number of gins; hosting a royal party or a meeting of the G7 finance ministers; winning a significant award; producing their own wine on-site; spending millions on refurbishment; opening a cookery school; or succeeding on MasterChef. Milsom Hotels in Essex even managed to gain positive national exposure in 2013 as a result of fraudsters walking out without paying for their Champagne-fuelled meal.
I was greatly impressed by what looked like yet another unsolicited job application, complete with CV, mailed by a manufacturer of white goods. The "applicant" turned out to be a washing machine whose credentials included the ability to work for 30,000 hours unsupervised. I could not say whether this was an original approach, but it certainly beats the "did you get my email?" phone call.
Sometimes, the clincher is just a great photo. When asked to submit an offer for Valentine's Day, it may not be the hotel with the best deal that gets featured, but the one with an image of people actually enjoying themselves. It's surprising how quickly photographs lose their impact. Some of our members are wise enough to get the photos of their rooms retaken every couple of years to perk them up.
Peter Hancock is chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels