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Interview with – Douglas Waddell, Operations Director for Hand Picked Hotels

Who are you and what is your current job role? My name is Douglas Waddell and I am the Operations Director for Hand Picked Hotels. It is a high quality group of country House Hotels located throughout theUK. How did you get to this position…what was the pathway and what did you do before? I have been in the Leisure and Hospitality business for well over 20 years. I started as a receptionist and have done most jobs in hotels up to an including General Manager. I have also run the Health Club side of a hotel group and have been in a variety of corporate multi site roles since 1996. My pathway was promotion through one group up to the role og Operations director. I was then headhunted to Join Epsorta the Health and Fitness company and then returned to hotels with Thistle. After a stint at Thistle I was lucky enough to land at Hand Picked. Nearly six years later the rest is history! What are the challenges in this job? This is a fantastic job with a wide remit and it has been made even tougher due to the very challenging economic times we have faced over the last few years. I have a great quality product with a great team and this makes it a great job! The main challenges are to sell and deliver the right product at the right price to reflect day of the week and seasonality. Who has influenced you the most in your career and why? I have been very lucky and have worked with some cracking people over the years however my wife was my first boss in the industry and she influenced me then and still clearly does today. I also have to mention Andrew Coppel and Stephen Carter from my time at Queens Moat Houses who both taught me so much about leadership and how to get the best out of the team. What do you do to switch off? I do not really switch off as I am a crackberry! However I do love exercise and spend time training and competing. I have done various events for charity over the years for the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation which is an amazing charity. Any Pearls of Wisdom or strategies for success that you would like to share? The best thing I can say to any aspiring leader is that “profit is an unavoidable consequence of having the right people in the right place at the right time!” What do you consider to be the current trends within the Hotel Industry? I would prefer to talk about the “big tickets” and as I see it they are. Recruitment and retention: it is probably one of the biggest issues we face across the industry. Good people are hard to find and we need to really work hard to keep them. At HPH we do spend a lot of time developing our people but we still have key areas where our retention is not high enough. We are working very to hard to keep as many people as possible and also to try and reduce the money we spend with agents! Increasing the average price of everything we sell. With the challenges of the last few years it is mission critical that we move our prices back up towards 2008 levels. This is a massive challenge for any retailer and one that occupies a lot of my thoughts and actions


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