Overall ranking: 4
Hotelier ranking: 2
Grant Hearn - Snapshot
Grant Hearn joined Travelodge as chief executive in March 2003 from the Hilton Group where he was managing director for the UK and Ireland. He became executive chairman in July 2010, but will continue to play an active role at the company, specifically focusing on growth opportunities. Travelodge, which is owned by private equity firm Dubai International Capital, was the first budget hotel brand to launch in the UK in 1985 and now operates 380 hotels, encompassing more than 26,000 rooms, in Ireland, Spain and the UK.
Grant Hearn - Career guide
Grant Hearn, who was born in 1958, spent more than a decade with Trusthouse Forte, where his father Dennis was deputy chief executive in the early 1990s. In March 1995, he left to become operations director for Whitbread’s Country Club Hotel Group, later renamed the Whitbread Hotel Company.
By the end of the year, he was promoted to chief operating officer after Whitbread bought Scotts Hotels and the Marriott franchise for the UK. In December 1996, he became the first managing director of Whitbread’s rapidly growing budget hotel brand, Travel Inn (now Premier Inn).
In April 2000, Grant Hearn left to become managing director for the UK and Ireland at Hilton International. Three years later he returned to the budget hotel sector when he became chief executive of Travelodge. In July 2010, he moved into the role of executive chairman, concentrating on growth opportunities, with Guy Parsons stepping in as chief executive.
Grant Hearn - What we think
While the recession has ravaged large parts of the hotel sector, both Travelodge and Premier Inn have continued to perform strongly. What do these two budget hotel rivals have in common? Grant Hearn, who has played a key role in the growth of the two companies, having been managing director of Travel Inn, as it was then known, in the 1990s and the head of Travelodge since 2003.
Hearn, who won the Outstanding Contribution award at the inaugural Hotel Cateys in 2007, has always been at the forefront of innovation when it comes to development opportunities. Joining forces with a supermarket to develop a new hotel? That will be Travelodge. Offering a bounty to the public for suitable sites? Travelodge. Adopting speed dating techniques to interview candidates? Guess who.
Hearn has also been at the forefront of industry efforts to recruit the long-term unemployed, with Travelodge becoming one of the first employers to sign up to the previous government’s Local Employment Partnership.
And then there have been Hearn’s tireless efforts to promote and defend the hospitality industry. In 2007, Travelodge and Caterer teamed up successfully to prevent implementation of a “bed tax” for hotels, while Hearn was by far the most vocal critic of the Labour government’s lukewarm support of tourism.
Don’t expect Hearn’s new role as executive chairman to see him sidelined. He will be spearheading Travelodge’s ambitious growth plans to operate 70,000 rooms (approximately 1,000 hotels) by 2020 and to be the biggest hotel operator in London by the 2012 Olympics.
Grant Hearn – Further information
Say no to bed tax >>
Travelodge boss wins Outstanding Contribution award at Hotel Cateys >>
Travelodge boss urges Government to tackle decline in tourism growth >>
Read more about the Caterersearch.com 100, the list of the most influential people here >>