Peter Hancock FIH is one of the most recognised hospitality professionals in our industry.
Having worked in the industry for over 40 years, Peter has worked from being a waiter to being the Chief Executive of Pride of Britain Hotels – a consortium set up to offer customers some of the most luxurious country house/boutique hotels in the UK.
As someone who started in the industry as a waiter and now is Chief Executive of Pride of Britain Hotels, what do you love most about the industry?
I love the collaborative nature of hoteliers – they are so ready to help each other and to support charities such as Springboard and Hospitality Action. It’s an industry where anybody with the right attitude can excel.
What’s been your biggest achievement in your career?
During my 12 years at Johansens I made a lot of money for our parent company (which at that time was The Daily Mail & General Trust) and in my 18 with Pride of Britain so far I have brought together some amazingly talented experts working for the benefit of our member hoteliers.
If you could give one piece of advice for a school leaver considering a career in hospitality what would it be?
Go for it! The hospitality industry offers endless and varied opportunities, no matter where you start.
Tell us three personality traits you need to get to the top in hospitality.
Liking people, plenty of energy and a warm personality.
How important is it to attend events and network in this industry?
It can be enormously valuable, especially in terms of meeting people who may have something to contribute to your business or to your career.
What is the biggest challenge the hospitality industry is facing at the moment?
Attracting bright young people remains our number one challenge, although the upward pressure on wages could be a blessing in disguise if it finally eradicates the widely-held perception that hospitality doesn’t pay well.
Did you plan to have a career in hospitality when you were younger?
No. My father had a successful publishing business which I might have joined under different circumstances but he died young and so I took the first thing I could get, a bar job at Pontins Holiday Camp in Bracklesham Bay (in 1977) which led to a job as a waiter at a nearby hotel & country club. Four years later I was the general manager.
When you do get a break from work, how do you switch off?
Playing the piano (badly), playing golf (badly), riding my bicycle (slowly) and reading articles that endorse my political prejudices. For years we kept a motorboat but my wife Michelle and I have now discovered we prefer cruising on ships, where the drinks don’t spill.
As someone who has worked in many areas of hospitality over many years, what has been the biggest change to the industry during your career?
There have been lots, such as the proliferation of celebrity chefs and an explosion in the number of high-quality hotels and restaurants in Britain but without doubt the internet, for good or ill, has transformed the way we do business.
As a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, which elements of the membership do you use the most?
For me, the most valuable elements are the networking opportunities such as the annual dinner and of course the licence to add those all-important post-nominals (FIH) which prove that I have at least a passing knowledge of this wonderful industry.