More rooms the key to progress

DUBLIN needs thousands of extra hotel rooms if important business, particularly in the conference sector, is not to be lost, the CEO of Ireland’s biggest hotel group warned at the AIB Let’s Talk Tourism forum in Killarney.

Delata boss Pat McCann said the capital is unique in European terms as no new rooms have been provided since 2007 and Google alone demands 40,000 rooms a year for its events.

“If Dublin doesn’t grow, convention business could be lost,” said Mr McCann who oversees 41 hotels with two brands, the Maldron and the Clayton.

He said the industry also needs to significantly step up to the mark in terms of staff training and development to prepare them for changing markets.

“In 2008 and 2009 the first thing we did was cut people development and now we’re seeing the consequences of that. We will always have a recruitment problem unless we have development and training,” Mc McCann stated.

Killarney-based hotel consultant Conor Hennigan, of Hennigan Hospitality Services, said every hotel needs a clear training and development programme and there is “a body of work” to be done in that respect.

“There is not enough funding being put into this sector. It needs to be addressed by the government. If we want it to grow, it needs finance,” Mr Hennigan told delegates at the Muckross Park Hotel.

“We need to get people into the regions and we need focus and marketing assistance to achieve that,” he added.

Stephen Hanley, General Manager of the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, said he has “thrown out the book” when it comes to recruitment and when choosing between skills and personality, it is personality that wins ”seven days a week”.

“You can get somebody that’s robotic with great skills but you need personality,” said Mr Hanley who added that his hotel employs 550 people and there are always 50 jobs available.

“It doesn’t matter whether they are from Caherciveen or Warsaw, it’s personality we want to recruit,” he stressed