Businesses must keep reinventing themselves, but core values remain the same, says Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels
Regular readers of Caterer and Hotelkeeper will know that this magazine has recently undergone an image makeover, which, as a long-standing reader and occasional contributor, I greatly welcome.
Nearly all businesses have to keep reinventing themselves every few years, otherwise they would start to lose their appeal to customers whose habits and preferences are constantly evolving.
At Pride of Britain we made some big changes to the image of the brand in 2010 largely to reflect the way our member hotels have moved on since the golden days of the country house renaissance of the 1980s. Gone are the chintz and floral wallpaper, in come muted colours, huge marble tiles, glass and chrome. The luxury is still there but in a way that feels right to guests who arrive in a top-of-the-range BMW. Our brand has to match it.
As individuals I notice we try to replicate this, with varying degrees of success. My predecessor, who was lovely man and dedicated to his work, wore a blazer and military moustaches - totally unacceptable now but just the ticket in his day. And under pressure from my other half, who is usually right about everything, my wardrobe has shed many of its least trendy contents.
It's easy to view these image makeovers as mere vanity, yet they are vital to the survival of almost any commercial enterprise. Survival of the fittest, as Darwin so eloquently put it.
There are some things, however, that time can't change. The importance of a good welcome, abundant hot water, quality food and drink. When things are so good they outlast the fashion of the day they become classical - think of Renoir or Rachmaninov - so there's no need to reinvent them. I believe the basic principles of hospitality will not alter, only the technology and efficiency that go behind the delivery.
So when I'm greeted by a member of staff in jeans or receive a message from the owner that starts with "Hi" I am careful not to judge too harshly. These habits will one day seem just as old-fashioned as my predecessor's blazer and moustaches.