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What it takes to run a hotel

hotel bell

The author is chief executive of the British Hospitality Association

Few industries hold a greater fascination for those who want to run their own business than hospitality.

It has a certain glamour and holds out the promise of considerable personal and financial satisfaction, with a satisfying lifestyle.

If you're thinking of buying a hotel it is important to know there is something very theatrical about running a hotel. New and often surprising events occur every day, bringing the owner into contact with people from all walks of life - some of them famous.

Every day, the hotel has to put on a different show. It's as well to bear in mind that the glamour can soon wear off, however. Running a hotel or guest house means long hours - it's a 24/7 commitment.

Finding - and keeping - staff you can trust will be a significant problem.

If you're inexperienced in dealing with people face-to-face, be prepared: the public can be critical, irritating, mean-spirited and thanklessly demanding. You may well think of yourself as an accommodating host; many guests will regard you as their servant.

You may think this is too gloomy - it isn't.

When searching for hotels for sale you should talk to a hotelier (and this is by far the best piece of advice I can give), they will tell you stories of guests that will make your hair curl - so be prepared.

You'll also recognise that you can't please everyone, but the art lies in wanting to try

But even better than talking, work in a hotel for a couple of weeks, and get the feel of being in an industry that is on show every day of the week, sometimes under huge and seemingly (at the time) unbearable pressures.

You'll soon learn that you need a powerful sense of humour and a deep conviction that running a hotel is the only job for you. You'll also recognise that you can't please everyone, but the art lies in wanting to try.

If you can come to terms with its challenges, hospitality can offer an extraordinarily rich lifestyle based on satisfying the basic needs for food, warmth, comfort and human friendship.

Running a hotel is an immensely personal activity in which the hotelier expresses their individuality through their hotel and the way they run it. Hotel-keeping is about welcoming and caring, providing a service and making people happy.

And, of course, it's about making money.

It's an occupation that requires not only the inspiration of the amateur but the technical expertise of the professional. You will need to be hard-headed, understand profit and loss accounts, and never ignore the legal obligations that trip up the unwary.

So many demands… the fun lies in trying to satisfy them - all at the same time.


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