Mme Jackie Sheppard

Approximately 40 members and guests met for the November event at the Panorama Restaurant which certainly lived up to its name and offered the most spectacular views of the Château, the town of Saumur and the Loire river.

Unfortunately, due to serious medical problems, the scheduled speaker for the event was not able to join us but ESU member Roy Powell had kindly agreed to speak to the group about his extensive experience and career in the hotel industry. Roy trained in London, Paris and Cannes before running two major tourist and convention hotels in Paris. He was a member of the management committee of the “business and leisure” hotels owned by Accor in France and still maintains responsibilities in both the “Club des Dirigeants de l’Hôtellerie Internationale et de Prestige en France” which represents 200 hotels and the regional “Groupement National des Chaînes Hôtelières” for the Ile de France, representing over 500 hotels.

Roy Powell

During his presentation Roy likened hotel management to being “just like inviting friends into your own home but on a much larger scale” - the main object being to keep the customers satisfied and returning to your hotel rather than the competition.

It was both interesting and entertaining to learn of the different challenges in hotel management, starting with the development of much larger aircraft which brought higher levels of tourists all needing to be checked in at the same time; the introduction of a new range of beds and detailed training of staff on how they were to be serviced; even the staggering amount of linen which is laundered daily!

Constantly keeping ahead of the opposition - their prices and special offers - is as important in day to day management as organising extensive redevelopment and refurbishment. From the need to have an adequate ratio of staff to clients - depending on what category of hotel is being operated - down to the logistics of how guests are actually brought down to the ground floor during extensive lift refurbishment was all part of that planning.

Michael Small proposed a vote of thanks to Roy for his presentation and for stepping in at relatively short notice to deliver a very informative insight into the world of hotel management.

Following a question and answer session, members enjoyed a meal of foie gras or terrine, followed by a choice of beef or fish and finally a dessert of charlotte or nougat glace and coffee.