Sarah-Jayne Smith speaks with Peter McCann, General Manager of The Merrion Hotel, Dublin
EBX: What motivates you most – in practical terms, and in emotional terms?
PMcC: Emotionally, it’s the people that who work in the hotel. You can be having a bad day and meet someone who puts you in a good mood. We have the best staff here. The interview process is critical, no position is offered unless there have been three interviews. Nearly 300 people work here and we have had less than ten dismissals in 18 years.
In practical terms, money – both in a personal and business capacity. The annual hotels inspection also motivates me. We received the highest score recently. I get a huge buzz from happy guests. I can read an email, follow up on guest’s comments and make sure they continue to get what they need. You can see why the president of the United States stayed here in 2011.
EBX: Who have you learnt most from? What are the five key lessons you learnt from them?
PMcC: My father. I’ve learnt to work hard and never take yourself seriously as my first General Manager taught me. He had me rodding the sewers in a suit. That was good lesson in being humble. You should never ask someone to do a job that you wouldn’t do yourself. My wife Dorothy also works in the hotel, she taught me to be more thorough. I learn something every day. Treat people as you wish to be treated yourself. The owners of the hotel are brilliant; they trust the staff to do their job. They have great integrity.
EBX: Which nations do you admire most in terms of business acumen? Why?
PMcC:I’m not sure if you can stereotype a nation. There are different styles of business in different countries. I have been lucky to get to see many countries. Traditionally in the USA leisure is predominant over corporate. There is a very different split over corporate and leisure. We did have 33% visitors from the UK this dropped to 11-12%. We mostly get guests from France, Germany and Ireland- north and south. The cancellation of the Garth Brooks concert did a lot of damage with the US market.
EBX: What is the single most important principle for creating a successful business?
PMcC: Integrity. Their word is their brand. Honestly is also key. I can’t stand lying, you should always tell the truth.
EBX: What is your single most important source of inspiration, and why?
PMcC: I don’t have all the answers. Ten senior managers come up with ideas. It’s their idea not mine. They surround themselves with good people. You should also know your weaknesses. I am not great at marketing. My wife is excellent though. Communication is 24/7. We’ve been married for 21 years and we juggle responsibility. You need to know that you can do nothing by yourself. The guest is the inspiration. No guest – no job.
EBX: How do you see the European economy moving in the medium-term?
PMcC: I’m not a of student of it. I don’t worry about things that I can’t influence. It will survive. We can’t pull out of the Union. Scottish independence showed – it’s better the devil you know.
EBX: Which recent innovations are impacting on your business?
PMcC: The speed of communication is impacting greatly. We’ve had to increase the broadband threshold to match guests expectations. We are in the process of investing 30-40,000 Euro in 2015. We haven’t charged for this service in 7 years.
EBX: Who are your leadership role models? Why?
PMcC: Michael O Leary – Ryanair CEO. Principally for what he has done for tourism. Across the EU his company moves over 80 million passengers a year. He talks common sense. He is a master in marketing spin. O Leary has transformed the country.
And, Martin Naughton – an Irish entrepreneur, founded Glen Electric in 1973. Now Glen Dimplex. He has redeveloped the domestic electrical appliance world. No more 5-10 year strategies. That doesn’t work today.