As far as I am concerned, there could not be a more interesting (or valuable) time for UK and Irish hoteliers to join a Europe-wide organisation for general managers than right now.

Embarking on a campaign to build UK and Irish membership of the European Hotel Managers Association (EHMA) at a time when our countries are in the midst of potential disruption to our decades-old, and comfortable, trading patterns, can be viewed as something of a challenge, but I see it as a truly golden opportunity.

Here is the prospect. Take 400 likeminded and like-standard leaders of four and five-star hotels spread across the continent, and make them and their properties accessible to their fellow members for support, cooperation, joint business development, advice, team member exposure and development, help with recruitment, job opportunities and anything that one hotelier would need of another. In our industry, that surely is unique – a situation in which arch-competitors actually help one another.

Over the years, my EHMA membership has been incredibly valuable in terms of staying on top of the latest trends and changes, while at the same time not losing sight of the core responsibilities of a successful GM. I joined all the way back in 1980, when the seventh annual conference was held in London – a stunning event. I was resident manager with the Carlton Tower back then, which was a Hyatt hotel at the time. I later went overseas – to Singapore and Australia – but remained an EHMA member throughout.

Membership keeps you in touch with your contemporaries and what’s going on in the market. It provides entry into a fantastic network across a raft of European countries where even the big brands might not have a presence. Over the years, I found that tremendously valuable when seeking help for either a client or member of staff who needed assistance in a European city. Joining the association has had an extremely positive impact on my career and it’s something I’d recommend any ambitious young hotelier consider.

While there are many industry associations in the UK and Ireland seeking the attention of ambitious hoteliers – each offering a different important dimension, such as marketing support, promoting career development, or industry-related charitable objectives – EHMA is unique in providing a fully European perspective and offering such reach into European markets, independent of brand or corporate affiliations.

Know the goals

Personal development and future-proofing our industry is an added key objective, with the Young EHMA programme now a key feature of the EHMA Annual Conference, which is held in the spring of each year in a member country and to which younger rising-star managers are invited.

And as EHMA changes and evolves, so too must our membership. The UK and Ireland delegation has historically been somewhat London-centric, but now we feel the time is right to expand our horizons beyond the M25.

So, while we will always welcome more London members, we will also seek to attract colleague hoteliers in Ireland, Scotland and Wales – and in the provincial cities – so that we can open the European gateway to hoteliers across the region. I look forward to visiting and meeting many of these potential members in person so that I can make our case, because joining EHMA offers so many opportunities, not least the immediate support of 400-plus hoteliers across Europe from a like-minded, willing and can-do membership.

I hope we can welcome a new generation of EHMA members and further consolidate the European synergies in our industry that has always served us so well.