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The Big Interview: Mike Magrane, GM, The Midland Hotel

Zoe 23 July 2013

_DSC3385We chat to Mike Magrane, general manager at The Midland Hotel in Manchester about the hotel’s next direction

What is your background in hospitality?

I’ve been general manager of The Midland Hotel since 2004, and regional general manager of QHotels in the north, mentoring and overseeing the development of the teams at The Queens, Crewe Hall and The Park Royal since 2005. I began my early career in the hotel industry with Forte Hotels, where I was appointed general manager in 1996.

What do you find most challenging about your role?

Time by far. There is so much that I want to do, so much time I want to spend with the team, but just not enough! The role is a complex and demanding one, from the demands of The Midland to supporting my regional hotels. I am lucky to have great GMs leading my hotels and a great support team within Q Hotels, but you always know that you can give more, and balancing that can be a great difficulty.

What are your marketing plans for 2013?

To continue the growth of The French, which has just undergone a £200k refurbishment. We plan to do this by including a new standalone website for the restaurant, with data capture being key. We will be linking this into an exclusive members club too, working with our partner Marketing Manchester to grow awareness of hotels in East Coast US, Northern Europe and China.

We’re also filming a BBC documentary around the launch of our restaurant The French by Simon Rogan. The show which will be aired early next year will be a great insight into the way we operate – safe to say we have some very exciting times ahead!

Trade shows and exhibitions are key, as Manchester grows as a city of choice for international travel and business.

Finally, we want to work more closely with key market segments that drive business in the hotel and increase exposure through their relevant press channels.

What are the plans for growth with The Midland?

The restaurants will be key to this, as we will gain huge exposure, but it is important we still focus most of our attention on to the 312 beds and multiple meeting rooms we have. We need to continue investing in the product, especially technology, making access and the use of all systems within the hotel easy for the customer. Working with some really interesting companies who are that cutting edge of guest technology led interaction devices. Growth will come from the feeder markets as mentioned above. We’re also looking at the next area of development which will be our present leisure club. This is a great opportunity for us to create something completely new within the market.

In general, how do you think the hotel industry is performing at the moment?

It’s still very tough times out there. I’m concerned for some properties that believe price wins over everything, because when the market changes they have placed themselves in a position I don’t believe they will be able to climb out from. Still I do question how some companies price their offer to market. When does a 30 per cent discount to the nearest competitor make any sense? It just pulls the market down, and in times when there are many companies looking for new investment, it isn’t the healthiest way to pull in new money.

Overall though, there are good signs in the markets. We use STR and Hotstats and there are clearly great growths coming through for Q Hotels, Trevpar year on year is continuing to grow and giving us great confidence when we look forward.

How do you think the industry has changed since you came on board at The Midland?

There are far more people doing some great, interesting, different things that are changing the offer for the consumer and making other brands sit up and take note. This change, coupled with the transparency that the likes of TripAdvisor and Facebook have brought, have shown that the real interesting operators are going to win, supported by a merry band of followers, who tell the world about it. As an operator now, if you aren’t true to your promise, you’ll be found out.

What are the future plans for the hotel?

The BBC documentary we are filing at the moment will really raise the awareness of the hotel and the exciting times we have ahead. Strive to be the best, win awards and recognition as we go, and enter new markets are all part of our 2013 plans.

Quick fire questions…

Last hotel you stayed at?

A small boutique hotel in the backstreets of Montparnasse in Paris as I went to see Six Nations. It had 10 bedrooms, small, but it was right in the heart of the residential area – it was fantastic.

Your favourite food?

I’m a real lover of fish

The one item of technology you can’t live without?

As with most people I can imagine, it has to be my Blackberry. I have the touch screen version now though, which isn’t a great move forward!

What is the most important life lesson you’ve learnt?

Every day you have a choice; do something with the day or don’t; I always do.