A rapid response to lockdowns, clear leadership and a strong survival spirit helped a national hotel group lay firm foundations for the future.

More than 90% of businesses run by Focus Hotels Management made an operating profit in 2020 despite the hugely unpredictable challenges created by the global pandemic.

The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit by lockdown and social-distancing restrictions and despite the Government’s recent ‘roadmap to recovery’, many pubs, restaurants and hotels still face very uncertain futures.

But the Focus Group is confident its trend-defying performance in 2020 has put it in a good position for a brighter future, beginning with a bumper staycation summer when lockdown limitations are lifted.

Focus attributes its ascent over adversity to a ‘war-like effort’ by its teams at all levels; a swift strategic response from senior management provided clear direction to General Managers leading their highly-motivated teams to ensure performance in 2020 was significantly better than hotel owners had expected.

Lynn Hood, Chief Operating Officer for Focus, said: “When the pandemic hit, we were in unknown territory as leaders and had to plan a route through it quickly to reassure owners and our teams. Everyone understood the need to streamline the organisation and remove as much unnecessary cost as possible.

“It has not been easy but we have learned and appreciated that our management team has a great survival spirit and a determined will to do everything we possibly can to see our hotels through this crisis.

“Within a few weeks of the first lockdown being implemented, most of our hotels had re-opened to key workers, providing work for some team members while others were furloughed. The government support measures meant that, overall, we were able to keep the number of redundancies down to a minimum.

“Our general managers led by shining example, cleaning rooms, cooking meals, delivering room service and also welcoming guests. People follow great leaders, and this spirit was embraced by all those who were working.

“The flexibility they demonstrated, with a “can-do” attitude and willingness to learn new skills, kept our hotels running efficiently, allowing us to operate with fewer employees, which helped our sustainability and profitability tremendously.

“We focused our sales efforts into areas we knew we could still accommodate, such as project business for essential workers, film production and elite sports groups. We also launched an intimate wedding package, which were a highlight of the past year and have been a delight to host. Guests are now looking forward and starting to plan private events, and we have enhanced our websites and packages to promote special life celebrations such as reunions, baby showers, naming ceremonies and milestone birthday parties. There is a definite desire to create new memories to treasure.

Focus was quick to invest in Covid-safe measures and subjected itself to the most stringent scrutiny to gain independent accreditation through industry-leading Clifton Environmental Services for hygiene standards and cleaning practices, but the investment hasn’t stopped there.

Lynn said: “Despite all the uncertainty, our owners have still been willing to invest capital over the past year in raising standards even higher at hotels across our portfolio, which is a strong vote of confidence in Focus Hotels Management.

“We’re so excited about being able to open our doors fully again, to welcome back our guests and our furloughed employees. To come through a year like 2020 with 90% of businesses returning an operating profit makes us incredibly proud of the inspiring effort by every member of the Focus family, which has put us in a stronger position for the future than we could ever have hoped for when the pandemic began.

ENDS May 2021

Issued on behalf of Focus Hotels by Empica. For further information contact Darren Bane or Martin Powell on (01275) 394400 or email darren@empica.com