Going for Gold was the title of this year's General Managers' Conference organised by the Master Innholders. It took place at The Hilton on Park Lane in January.
Once again I was fortunate enough to attend and to play a small part in the proceedings as chair of the first day - a real pleasure as the programme was packed with interesting speakers like Danny Meyer and Lord (Sebastian) Coe. The man behind all this was Jonathan Raggett, Managing Director of Red Carnation Hotels and himself a Master Innholder. His instructions were very clear: make it fun and keep us to the timetable. From the reaction of the 440 delegates present I think he achieved both, giving next year's organiser an even tougher challenge.
The high point for me came when our penultimate speaker had left the stage and we were awaiting the arrival of Lord Coe. Alone in front of the distinguished audience I had no option other than to stand there telling jokes until the great man appeared. And that is why, on entering the ballroom, his Lordship was confronted by my voice over the PA system concluding a little story with the words "bollocks to Churchill". What must he think of us?
Next year it's going to be at the Grosvenor House, presumably with the ever expanding attendance in mind. If the numbers do continue to rise, a sure sign of success most would say, then I would advocate longer breaks. As a networking opportunity the GM's conference is second to none...provided you can grab a moment with everybody you want to see.
In the meantime it's one gold medal for Mr Raggett and the organising committee.