CFOs to come to the forefront
CFOs to come to the forefront
29 JANUARY 2018 8:25 AM

In the United Kingdom, growth is predicted to be stagnant or to decline slightly, but if it can find growth, that might very well come from the knowledge, acumen and resolve of hotel company CFOs.

If 2017 was the year of change, 2018 might be year in which the power of the hotel CFO rises to its apex.

Growth is expected to happen, but it will be tighter to achieve, and cutting costs always will play a large part in seeing top- and bottom-line revenue improve.

At the recent Whitebridge Conference in London, Whitebridge’s director Philip Camble predicted revenue per available room in London to decline. Robin Rossmann, managing director of STR, parent company of Hotel News Now, was more optimistic, but still predicted flat RevPAR for London.

Regional United Kingdom will see decent numbers, but the overall situation will be less rosy throughout Europe in 2018. This might just be where the industry cycle stands, but “let the good times roll on” is probably what CEOs and shareholders will say, and they will look to CFOs to make sure blood does come from stones.

This is being exacerbated in the U.K. because the Great Unknown is coming—that is, Brexit, the end result of which no one knows and the predicted end result of which changes every day, especially when all the leaders of the Free World are gathering, arguing, proposing, compromising and being disingenuous in Davos during the World Economic Forum.

The most recent Deloitte CFO Survey, published this month, has CFOs saying that their focus on not allowing money to seep out of their organizations is the highest, the toughest, the most urgent in eight years—and eight years ago was the height of some nasty times.

Brexit is the chief worry, apparently, followed by weak growth and reduced productivity.

Sounds like the end of a cycle to me, but I assume there are various levers to pull so that we enter 2019 thinking what a miserable bunch of naysayers we British are.

Absurd anthems
It has come to my attention that the famous Quebec City hotel-institution Fairmont Château Frontenac has an official anthem.

Good for it, but I do not see the point, if there is one other than that people like music. But when will guests hear this? On the property’s birthdays; in the elevators; while having breakfast; when receiving special offers by email?

“The Fairmont Château Frontenac will now be able to speak to the world through the universal language of music” is a quote on the news release from the hotel’s GM Robert Mercure.

Music makes people happy, doesn’t it? Well, when it is yours, not when it comes in a tinny fashion from someone else’s phone via earphones.

How many other hotels have anthems? I cannot find any, but I am sure they exist.

Hotels could have—as with U.S. states—official birds and flowers, too. I propose for the Château Frontenac that its official bird is the Boreal owl, also known as Tengmalm’s owl, which seems very happy in Canada and rarely ventures south of the border.

That plays well into the exclusivity and legend of the hotel. Its official flower could be the Gulf of St. Lawrence aster. U.S. states also have official fish species, don’t they? But I will not labor the point.

I’ll let CFOs do that so we can see the hotel industry continue to thrive.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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