A NEW LOOK, BUT old ANSWERs on no-Shows
CONGRATULATIONS on the new-look Caterer. One of the disadvantages of having read its varying forms for the past 30 years is that the same topics keep arising. No-shows has been an issue for as long as I can recall, and every time, naive operators ask "What shall I do?" (Features, 30 June).
The law is quite specific. There is only one answer, and that is to sue, Mr Innkeeper, sue. To date, we have only lost one such case and I am just about to take the unusual step of initiating action against that court if it does not reverse its findings!
meeting the industry people
THE new Caterer is a great improvement: easy to read and follow. My Worst Moment is great.
My only beef is, do we really want 10 pages of ego-stroking articles on chefs every week? It is becoming one big yawn. One or two pages yes, but not 10.
We need more on hotel management, restaurant managers, top reception managers - the people the paying public meet. And how about an occasional article on the great hotel marketing people in Britain today?
lThe Chef section is not about stroking egos, it is mainly about food and menus - EDITOR
the RACK RATE IS the RIGHT RATE
JOHN Cockerill speaks with the logic of a "nouveau middle man" when he suggests that to achieve less than half a quoted or rack rate is acceptable or indeed an inevitable progression in modern marketing terms (Letters, 30 June). I fail to understand what fruit and veg have got to do with hotel beds or indeed supply and demand.
May I humbly suggest that, in the real world, we understand that "wars" are destructive and to be avoided at all costs. Nobody ever wins, least of all the customer.
Customers want to pay true value for money. Rack rates should represent the true value of a bedroom. Simulated reductions fool nobody and are a marketing tool of the voracious middleman.
Many middle men will only allow you into their publication if you can show a reduction on your rack rate. Then they will only promote you fairly if you pay their "preferred" commission rate of up to 7.5% more than the normal 10%.
Real customers admire continuity of pricing, mistrust gimmicks and would be mortified if they ever suspected that they were being manipulated by Mr Cockerill's so called "rules of engagement".
I do practise what I preach. At the Goring we achieve our quoted rate and over 85% room occupancy in May and June.
The Goring Hotel,
MARKET leaders can influence
AS PETER Fuller states in his letter (23 June) it is good to broaden the Two for One issue into a debate. The factor not yet touched on is that in the leisure market, the language itself has changed.
The "bargain short break" is no longer a bargain. It has been overtaken by the massive publicity generated for Two for Ones, not by our industry but by the newspapers in their circulation wars. The recession unfortunately left many hundreds of independent hoteliers in the situation where the chance of national press exposure and some additional (if low rate) business was an attractive proposition.
Frustrating though it is, I have to accept there is little that I, as an owner of a 20-bedroom hotel, can do to change market forces.
However, Rocco Forte can influence and change the marketplace. If my memory is correct, it was Forte which came out of the closet and standardised a pricing policy for Post House, blazening it across hotels and in television and press advertisements.
The public became aware that you could bargain with hotels, and hey presto, the next thing is consumer programmes encouraging the public to haggle on price - just like a bazaar in the Middle East.
We must look to the industry leaders to move rates back to realistic levels. They have a responsibility by dint of their position but, of course, have to balance the commercial pressures they face themselves.
There are two other important points. The English Tourist Board is mounting a £500,000 campaign in the Autumn to support its regional short breaks campaigns. Perhaps this will act as a catalyst that will move us back to sanity.
The second point is aimed at banks. The recession should have wiped out QMH, Resort and others. The principal reason it did not was that the banks were in so deep they had to keep them afloat. If they had been looking at an independent you can be sure it would no longer be here.
If these market forces had been allowed to operate, perhaps we would not be needing Two for One, let alone debating the issue.
The Cottage in the Wood,
LET'S TEAM UP NOT SPLIT UP
I read with some concern the news that yet another association is to be formed, this time to give the independents a voice (News, 23 June).
Jack Matthews, well respected and well known in catering and catering association circles, must know of the multiplicity of catering associations now in existence. He must also be aware that many of these associations have independents as members and cater for their needs.
It is difficult to see how the setting up of yet another association might be "the first step towards the idea of a catering federation". The Catering Managers Association is affiliated with the European Catering Association, indeed many years ago they initiated a move to a federation of catering associations with little support. The Catering Industry Liaison Council should perhaps be the body to start a federation.
There are more than 20 catering associations already well established. Don't let us initiate more splinter groups "to give a voice". Let's all concentrate on improving the present situation to provide a united voice that will be listened to.
Catering Managers Association,
get VIOLENCE OUT IN THE OPEN
I AM carrying out research on workplace violence in our industry. I want to make contact with people who have been assaulted, verbally abused or threatened while carrying out their duties.
Workplace violence (see Caterer's Lifestyle Survey, 30 June) includes a wide range of atrocities, including property damage or theft, sexual assault, psychological abuse and physical harm which can lead to fatalities. It is on the increase in our industry and incidents are rarely reported or dealt with properly.
If you have something to say, contact me today in absolute confidence and help contribute to a worthwhile study on its effects.
MRS B SCOTT
Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure,
Glasgow Caledonian University,
1 Park Drive,
Glasgow G3 6LP.