On the road with Victus

As well as working on a challenging consultancy project, in the past few weeks Victus has also been zipping around the UK delivering motivational speeches, presenting at awards ceremonies and compering at large international trade exhibitions.

But what makes me qualified to stand up to 250 students who aspire to work in catering and hospitality? Hand over a gong to one of my peers? Or moderate a panel of industry experts?

I think it boils down to a mix of experience, knowledge and personality.

IMG_3988I love working with bright, young, emerging talent, and I’m often asked to speak and lead workshops at schools and colleges. Last month I was a keynote speaker at the University of Highlands and Islands “Get Inspired 2017” Entrepreneurship. No doubt the students were expecting me to regale them with tales of my huge achievements and brag about my numerous successes. But I had a different agenda. I wanted to stand up as living proof that an entrepreneur has to withstand disappointments, challenges, trials, tribulations and no end of hardship. I’m honest, I’m direct and I wear my heart on my sleeve… and I’m quite happy to tell a room full of strangers about one particular business venture which pushed me right to the edge, both financially and emotionally. Share with them that I picked myself up, dusted myself down, and once I’d wept and wailed a little more, I used the experience to set up Victus.

The students were a great bunch, full of enthusiasm, eager to ask questions and really engaged. And they seemed to get my message:

“No matter what happens, keep trying. He showed that it does take a long journey and lots of hurdles along the way but you will get there eventually.”

IMG_3989Also in March I was the compere for “The Big Picture”, the main stage at the International Food Exhibition, held at the vast London Excel. This involved introducing keynote speakers, presenting awards and moderating panel discussions. Topics focused on hard hitting issues within the UK and international food and drink industry, with experts offering their advice and opinion. I had to think on my feet, know my stuff and keep both the speakers and audience on side. One speaker didn’t turn up and I had to think fast… I remembered someone I had met earlier, tracked her down and between the two of us we delivered an engaging discussion.

It was hard, challenging but it gave me such a buzz. But how was I able to pull it off?

I own a number of catering businesses so I have to keep up to date with law, legislation, best practice and things on the horizon like sugar tax. With over thirty permanent and part-time office, kitchen and front of house staff I’ve been there and seen that with almost every possible hiring, firing and training scenario. I work with many different kinds of suppliers, and understand the provenance of food as well as environmental and wider sustainability issues.

I specialise in one industry, and within that industry I have key areas of expertise. I don’t claim to be all things to all people, but I know what I know and I focus on this. If I was asked to speak at a technology or marketing conference, I’d decline. It’s not my thing.

But people. Building teams. Food & beverage. Allergens. Growing a business and aspiring to own more. Now those are topics I could speak about until the cows come home!

Victus Consultancy is an engaging, passionate and entertaining presenter, speaker and host. He is available to talk at hospitality and catering events throughout the UK and further afield, subject to availability. Contact us for additional information.

BBQ like a Boss!!

With the food industry currently embracing pop-ups, food trucks, street food and all things artisan, there’s still one culinary style that can put a smile on any man’s face and get his stomach rumbling…. the humble BBQ!!

Fire and beer, is there a better combo?


Yet for some people, the idea of a BBQ conjures images of seriously over-cooked yet raw sausages and dodgy looking chicken wings that should be delivered with their own toilet roll. But take a look at our friends in the Southern States of America, now these guys know how to cook up a veritable BBQ feast.

Barbecuing must be the oldest and most simple form of cooking dating back from whenever. But where does the word “barbecue” originate from? Well, there are multiple theories, but for me the most plausible is that “barbecue” is a derivative of the West Indian term for slow-cooking meat over hot coals – “barbacoa”.

Then, of course, the South Africans have their “braai”, the Chileans their “asado”, the Japanese their “yakitori” and the Brazilians their “churrasco”. For us in the UK, any process which involves smoking and grilling a product over an indirect heat source for a period of time is praised as barbecue, but this method of cooking is not as highly regraded or appreciated as it is in other parts of the world, probably because of our approach!


Ask anyone who can BBQ like a Boss and they’ll offer one key piece of advice… “timing”. The secret to effective BBQ’ing is patience and time, take your time. Make sure the coals are heated to the right temperature, then keep your meat, fish and veggies on the grill for the right amount of time. Your guests want to be wowed by an expert who can do it better, much better, than they can. At no stage in the game should they be worried that what they’re served hits either end of the scale being seriously over-cooked or the opposite.

Consider what you’re putting on the grill. It shouldn’t just be about a simple pork sausage or basic burger. Pretty much anything within reason can be cooked on a BBQ, so why not try pork, chicken and even game, fish and vegetables?


If we’re taking the humble BBQ to another level, then we need to talk about marinades. These provide an explosion of flavour without detracting from the meat itself. Be careful with a citrus marinade as if you leave it on for too long before cooking it can in fact toughen the meat. And it needn’t be anything overly complicated – a mix of ketchup, fruit chutney and Worcestershire sauce makes a fantastic marinade for chicken.

Smoking works as a great technique for the larger cut of meat but it requires specialist equipment, a great deal of knowledge and, again, time. The art of grilling food over direct heat also is a delicious method of cooking and far quicker which helps for smaller cuts of meat.

Another great BBQ tip is not to over-turn the meat and to not press the meat too hard as this actually forces out the flavour. There are so many ways to cook fish on a BBQ despite the myth that all fish disintegrates when coked this way. Fish baskets, foil and skin on are just a few techniques to make you BBQ like a legend.

A collection of friends gathered around a bbq

Soak wooden BBQ skewers in water prior to use to stop the sticks burning and in turn damaging the product. Oil vegetables before barbecuing to keep them from sticking to the grill. Sear vegetables on a high heat and then move to a cooler part of the BBQ to ensure that they are perfectly cooked with the most amazing flavour. Root vegetables love a bit of foil involvement and that keeps the taste in while they cook to a perfect crunch.

Let’s give fruit a chance too. Some fruits just don’t work and therefore shouldn’t be tackled. Apples, pears and quinces are all surprisingly tasty when barbecued but keep them big and chunky. A favourite is pineapple and then the classic full banana but why not abuse it with honey and chocolate buttons? The options are endless.


Nowadays we are governed by so many Health and Safety and Environmental policies and we are using a smaller surface and mixing products so due diligence is essential. Thermometers, separate chopping boards, prep stations, leaving adequate space between products, different utensils …ahhh its a minefield out there, but a tasty minefield.

I urge you to BBQ, why not? Show me a person who does not enjoy a good BBQ…. I thought not!!


Victus Consultancy can help you with all aspects of your food and beverage offering, including managing costs, pricing, menu design, allergen considerations, health & hygiene and… how to BBQ like a boss!

The hospitality work-life balance


All work and no play, yeah yeah yeah. We all know about the old work-life balance debate.

I remember many years ago talking to a colleague about what he had done in the 12 months since we had last met. I listened in awe to his tales of his intrepid adventures, fine wines and exotic foods from around the world, then heard myself regale him with my thoughts on increasing the average room rate, RevPAR, TRevPAR, the bottom line and undertaking a full hotel refurbishment.

I gulped and realised I had very little else to talk about. What’s more, I was helping someone else live their dream. It was certainly not my dream and things had to change.


I’m passionate about hospitality, I’ve worked in kitchens, hotels, restaurants, bars and bistros for over thirty years. I love it, I wouldn’t do anything else, but the demands on those of us working in the hospitality industry are great – long hours, meeting our guests’ increasingly high expectations, and of course overseeing and managing operations, often at breakneck speed. It can be almost impossible to arrange a team meeting, never mind catch your breath. But this dedication and commitment to what we do inevitably takes its toll, and it’s imperative that we all manage our work-life better to avoid stress, resentment, or even burn out.

work life balance

Fortunately, flexible working and work-life balance incentives and policies are starting to become the norm in companies, and increasingly sought after by employees. This being said there are still so many in the hospitality and catering industry who are less than satisfied. A recent survey stated that 25 percent of hospitality employees are unsatisfied with their personal work-life balance, and the attitude of “I was made to do it” is still very much prevalent.

A company with competitive edge over their competition is often accredited with seriously looking after their employees. This indicates that we need change to seriously change our mindset to make this work for us. So the question now is: what can hospitality operators do to ensure there is a balance and certainly not an imbalance?


  • Listen to your people to find out and get a proper understanding of the situation within your business. By using engagement surveys with the team, establish what people are actually thinking and feeling within the workplace. This also lets us see who is engaged and who is disengaged. Therefore is a poor work-life balance causing issues? Maybe your staff don’t have problems with work-life balance. Lucky you!
  • Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise! It may sound counter-intuitive, but do the most important tasks before the most urgent ones. Understand what really matters. Achieve the right balance of working IN the business and working ON the business. Time is your most valuable commodity – it’s the one thing you can’t buy more of, so, don’t waste it.
  • Be clear, honest and open. Let your staff know if you need to leave at 5pm on the dot for a family celebration, or pop out at 2pm to see your child in their school play. Specify that you won’t be available after a certain time. Your team then know where they stand, and will feel more comfortable about doing this themselves. This leads to a more positive culture, increased morale and lower staff turnover. But always remember – flexibility is a two-way street.
  • Pace yourself. If you’re most alert first thing, this would be the best time to write reports. If you feel sluggish in the mid-afternoon, then grab a cuppa and do a walk-around , chat t0 staff and customers. Be realistic about what you’re able to achieve – no-one can operate at full throttle all day long.
  • Embrace technology, but don’t let it control you. Ensure that technology makes your life easier without becoming time consuming. Don’t be a slave to it. Put on the silent button when you need to focus on important tasks, staff, family and friends.

Right. Blog written. That’s me off for a cycle then home for dinner with the family.

Victus Consultancy is passionate about all aspects of the catering and hospitality industry. Contact us if you’d like an industry expert to help you achieve a better work-life balance for you and your team.

5 ways to turn customers into fans

In this age of technology, on-line bookings, automated systems and much less traditional face-to-face contact, providing exemplary customer service has never been so important. Building and developing a meaningful relationship with your clientele is absolutely vital to making your business successful.

Any business worth their salt aims to look after their customers. But as hoteliers, restauranteurs, and bistro, bar and cafe owners we should be going beyond this by turning our customers into loyal fans who will sing from the rooftops about how we good we are and keep coming back for more. We need to create a culture of excellence, granted, but there are 5 key things we should all be doing to make our customers love us and truly buy into our business.

Survey form with a tick placed in Outstanding checkbox.

1. Recruit GREAT staff
Your staff speak to and serve your customers – they’re the face of your company. Staff can be trained, gain qualifications and learn the tools of their trade, but personal skills are innate. Warm, friendly, welcoming members of staff who remember a customer by name and their preferences are priceless. They can truly engage with your customers, making them feel valued. My youngest son particularly loves one of the baristas at our local coffee shop who he calls “Mr Mischief”. They have a great rapport, which has turned this one cafe into THE cafe – no others are now good enough for my 7 year old!

2. Invest in training
Once you’ve recruited the right person, train train train! Ordering a cocktail is much more enjoyable when the person you’re ordering it from can create it with flair, panache and skill. Likewise, a latte is much more enjoyable when the milk is frothed to perfection and topped off with a latte art fern. Staff will grow in confidence and your customers will benefit from their ability and talents.

3. Brand
A recognisable brand is surely one of the most valuable assets of any business. Craft a name, logo, values, mission and ethos to create a brand which truly represent your business and what you’re all about, and you build a strong identify which resonates with your customers. An eye-catching logo can be used to great effect on your signage, windows, literature and packaging, and helps your customers identify with you more easily.

4. Turn a transaction into an experience
Make your breakfast offering more exciting by including a range of award-winning ingredients. Tell a story about where your dishes come from – is it a local farm where livestock is free range? Or a local entrepreneur who has started producing an exciting range of jams and chutneys? Offer information about your cuts of meat, the provenance of your fruit and vegetable, and the backstory of any fair trade products – it all helps build customer engagement and loyalty.

5. Unique selling point
Stand out from the competition with your own signature product. It could be a range of savoury scones, an amazing multi-allergen-free cake or an imaginative afternoon tea for children. Or offer a variety of high end, speciality teas, home made syrups or silky smooth decaf. Customers will travel from further afield to try out these speciality dishes, and will ultimately become fans!

Victus Consultancy
is passionate about encouraging best practice and excellent customer service in the catering and hospitality industry. Contact us if you’d like an industry expert to help you provide the very best experience possible for your customers.

Inspiring young people

Catering and hospitality is a great industry.

That’s my opinion and I stand by it 100%, but not enough people know or believe this. I still to this day hear members of the public asking my professional, full time front of house staff, “ So, what else do you do?” and then seem to be surprised to find out that this is in fact their sole source of income. And why shouldn’t it be?

catering students

Sit in any Spanish or Italian street corner cafe and watch the waiters at work. They are consummate professionals who memorise orders without writing anything down then present the right dishes to the right customers without having to ask. It’s an art – a wonder! Hospitality is their career, one in which they have trained and developed to be the very best they can be. They’re proud of their jobs, and rightly so.

It’s a truly superb industry and we should all embrace it. After all, everyone needs to eat, drink and sometimes be away from home, and we want it to be the most enjoyable experience possible.

If we’re going to get young people engaged with our industry then we need to start them young and ignite sparks of passion. Let’s infiltrate schools and colleges and lead pupils and students throughout their learning journey from primary school to high school, and from college and into their first job with the catering and hospitality industry. Let’s provide talks, run workshops, provide role play opportunities, offer scholarships and organise work-based placements. This industry can lead to the most amazing journey with plenty of opportunities along the way.

Young pupils

Work experience is paramount to ensure that the student is a good fit with the business. Some employers now leave it for the staff to decide if a certain individual will make the team, as it is the team that will be working with the individual on a day-to-day basis and not the human resource department or manager. Almost X-Factor in its approach! The idea of “try before you buy” could be invaluable and cut down on any unnecessary recruitment, selection and induction and training costs.

It’s well documented that many people leave a business when they don’t feel engaged, feel undervalued and aren’t entirely sure what their purpose is within the organisation. So with this in mind, let’s start at ground level with engagement, work up and up-skill. Develop, develop, develop!

The second area of attack is to engage with the local community. Let’s create hands-on opportunities for our neighbourhoods to see, feel, taste and touch our industry. It’s imperative for all hospitality operators to open their doors and let others take a peek inside. We can become showcase our brand while getting people to understand what we’re all about and adding credibility to our industry.

Invite children from your local primary school to a healthy eating workshop at your restaurant, cafe or hotel and you kill two birds with one stone!


Victus Consultancy is passionate about recruiting, training & developing talent in the catering and hospitality industry. Contact us if you’d like an industry expert to help you attract, retain, coach and mentor the very best people.

The art of pairing food

Is food pairing simply a passing trend?

Everything seems to have become salted and caramelised … salted this and caramelised that. Sometimes salted AND caramelised. From chocolates to everyone’s favourite…popcorn. But food pairing goes back, way back, back to many many moons ago.

Salted caramel popcorn

We’re all aware of drink and food pairings such as white wine with fish and red wine with red meat, but this is simply done to compliment the meal experience and not to push gastronomic boundaries. Growing up, food pairing to me was having a hot pizza with pieces of pineapple sat nestled on top. In fact, wine & cheese, mashed potato & gravy and coffee & doughnuts were probably as exciting as food pairing got until more recently.

Food trophology, the nutritional approach that advocates specific combinations of foods as central to good health and weight loss, is becoming increasingly popular. Some sectors are obsessed with food pairings or food non-pairings, such as keeping carbs away from protein to aid athletic performance and recovery. But experimenting with food pairing, specifically combining flavour combinations, is increasingly being used to push culinary boundaries and create incredible, mouth-watering experiences.


Ask people in our industry if Heston Blumenthal is a chef, a scientist or just a genius and we all tend to come back with the same answer. He of course is a chef, but a chef who really tests our creative juices with his celebrated inventions. Meat with dark chocolate or caviar with white chocolate – these recent innovations open up a whole new world of possibility and opportunity.

As I sit in my production kitchen with my team of chefs discussing innovation, flair and creativity there are no goggles, liquid nitrogen or Bunsen burners in sight, more’s the pity. Can you imagine what Heston’s kitchens must look like? We have staple dishes such as fish & chips, pie & mash, crumble & custard and pie & beans, but our chefs need to now take dishes that should not be paired and merge them together to create outstanding results which will get more customers through the door.


We as a nation should venture away from our comfort zone and cultural norms when it comes to cooking. As a child my mum always made us have a “bits n pieces” tea where she would use up all the left overs that were in the fridge prior to her doing the big shop. Back then you might get a single link sausage, a measly helping of stovies and a crab stick, certainly a combination that should not work, if I’m honest did not work.

But Mum, if you read this, you were ahead of your time. A true innovator. We’re now simply taking your ideas and tweaking them a little to create slightly more sophisticated dishes.


Victus Consultancy can help you with all aspects of your food and beverage offering, including managing costs, pricing, menu design, allergen considerations and…innovation!

Energy Saving Rules for Hospitality

I hear it daily. As operators, have we done everything in our power to have in place the most cost-effective energy policy? We’re talking money saving, as well as improving our sustainability by reducing our carbon footprint.

It’s claimed that within the UK hospitality sector we overspend by £92 million on a turnover of £1.3 billion annually, with carbon emissions of 8 million tonnes a year. These are big, scary numbers. Especially when basic best practice such as only using what you need, turning off cupboard lights and turning down the temperature gauge by one degree, is so simple to implement.


Victus’ top ten energy saving rules for hospitality are:

1. Understanding – Before we can change we must first seek to understand. Understanding and pin-pointing your current consumption, usage, levels etc is paramount. Introduce a consumption monitor to fully understand your usage.

2. Education – Keep your team in the know. Ask staff where energy can be saved, and make sure the night shift understands that they also have a role to play. Ensure that your team knows that their opinion, input and efforts are not just required, they’re invaluable. Energy efficiency should be a key part of staff induction, with regular follow-up sessions and training to review, reinforce and improve.

3. LEDs – Light-emitting diodes use 80% less energy than standard bulbs, and have a longer life span providing 50,000 hours of usage. There’s a cost to introducing such bulbs which has to be factored into your budget and overheads, but the savings are significant and you can rest assured that you’re doing your bit for the environment.


4. Low cost solutions – Items such as daylight sensors can achieve huge savings. These are ideal for toilets, store rooms and function/event spaces. Daylight sensors are a superb product as they do not operate if there is sufficient daylight present.

5. Innovation with HEAT – Many operators are now considering Biomass plants within the grounds of their hotels as a means to heat the property. Although fairly new to the hospitality sector, more and more are cropping up. Some figures show larger operators can save up to £10,000 per month.


6. Energy efficient kitchen equipment – Kitchen equipment has to be as energy efficient as possible as 25% of hospitality energy is consumed within the kitchen. Ideal solutions are low energy dishwashers, induction hobs and cookers. Some induction hobs require 20% less energy to operate, with combi ovens using 25% less.

7. Reclamation – This is the art of turning, for example, food waste into energy.  Unused heat from refrigerators can be used to preheat domestic hot water. Energy can be made using used cooking oils and there are many companies on the market now specialising in this.


8. Building design – Look at a property’s insulation to maximise heat being held within the building. Draughts and damp are an evil in any game and need kept away. Cavity wall insulation is always recommended when a property undergoes a refurbishment.

9. Ventilation & extraction – The ventilation system is the Big Daddy of energy consumption due to its crucial role within the kitchen. It’s essential to switch off these units when not in use, adjust the speed settings and turn down the level of intensity.

10. Solar panels – Surveys show that solar panels are one of the most attractive options for the hospitality operator, with immediate reductions in operational costs and more resistance to future energy hikes. The ideal solution is essentially free usage by selling unused, stored energy back to the grid. You could even make a profit!


Victus Consultancy can help you make your business more sustainable by cutting costs and becoming more profitable while doing your bit for the planet. We offer help, support and guidance every step of the way.

Brexit – dare we consider a positive outcome?

On Wednesday night, MPs backed the European Union Bill by 498 votes to 114, allowing the Prime Minister to begin the Brexit process. While the bill still faces more debate, negotiation and discussion before it can become law, Brexit is well and truly happening…


On 24th June 2016, it seemed to many of us in the hospitality and catering industry that the sky had fallen in. Against all expectation, British voters narrowly voted in favour of the UK leaving the EU. Uncertainty, disbelief, upset and confusion ensued for those who felt passionately about Britain remaining a member of the EU.

But here’s the thing. Over seven months later, and even with the passing of the Bill, the world hasn’t stopped turning. Coffee is still being brewed in Edinburgh’s cool, urban coffee houses. Afternoon teas are still being served in London’s quintessentially British tea rooms. People of all persuasions are still punting in Cambridge. And diners are still flocking to restaurants across Manchester, York, Brighton and Glasgow. The sun still rises in the east and sets in the west. Sure, there’s still uncertainty, markets are still fluctuating, yet as we get ever closer to Article 50 being triggered we must all take a more positive view, hard as it may seem.


Newly released figures show that unemployment has fallen, hospitality spending has risen by 8.9%and investment is up. The decline of the pound is encouraging overseas visitors to take advantage of Britain’s lower prices, and “staycations” are on the rise, benefitting both local and national tourism. There is also an increase in high spending European incentive groups, and travellers from Asia and the US. In fact, since the Brexit result, spending by Japanese visitors is up 96 per cent and travellers from Indonesia have spent 88 per cent more on tax- free shopping than the same period in 2015.

London bus tour

Of course there are seemingly overwhelming challenges to overcome. Our weakened currency means that foreign imports, such as wine and olive oil, will become more expensive and we will all have to find ways to remain competitive. Restricted freedom of movement would make it more difficult for our European visitors to enter the UK and will certainly restrict hiring staff from overseas, on which many of us are reliant.

However, with every threat comes opportunity. Hotels, restaurants, bars and bistros can get creative about using suppliers closer to home, boosting their local economy, supporting their communities and reducing food miles, all of which support corporate responsibility and improve brand image. For staff, recruit on personality then focus on training & development. Consider scholarships, work placements, internal workshops and even on-line training. Build a relationship with local schools and colleges, offer work placements and nurture emerging talent.

British wine

The hospitality industry has survived 9/11, recession, Mad Cow disease and the fuel crisis. Brexit is another challenge I’m sure we will face head on with strength, positivity and by working closely together to ensure continued growth and development.

Victus Consultancy can help, support and guide you with all aspects of running a hospitality and catering business, including procurement and staff training. Pick up the ‘phone, drop us a line and we can get the ball rolling.

Breakfast, the best start to the day

Breakfast is vital – the very best way to kick start your day. Breakfast is wonderful. We should do it every day.

Hail to breakfast!

But for those of us in the catering and hospitality industry, breakfast is also a great opportunity to increase footfall and capitalise on morning trade. Even pubs, bars, bistros and other historically “evening” outlets are catching onto and maximising the opportunity.

Breakfast copy

The key to a good breakfast menu is choice. Everyone has their preference for light and continental or hearty and filling. Personally I would have both – a 3-course meal to start the day – why not?  All breakfast menu items should use the very best local produce available and always include regional specialities. If I’m in Scotland I want to tuck into haggis and black pudding, Ireland – farls. When in England, I want to sample white pudding, and a portion of “bubble” in London never fails to make me smile.  Award-winning sausages and bacon are always an attractive proposition, and much can be made of the provenance of local jams, breads, eggs and sauces.


To ensure a smoother operation, offer as full a breakfast menu as you can until lunch-time service begins, then make a simplified version available for the rest of the day. The all-day-breakfast being, after all, one of the greatest British institutions! And if you’re lucky enough to benefit from passing trade, a take-away menu compliments your offering and boosts takings.

A well-designed, varied menu, as with any other meal, is the secret to a successful breakfast. The brunch menu should be the focus of the morning service for any food led venue. Sure, the hot drinks market may be experiencing a period of growth, but nothing encourages customers to stay and spend more than the prospect of a good meal. For many, brunch has become a regular ritual. A time to catch up with friends, and for parents with young children it’s a way to indulge in a more sophisticated play date. Young families may be put off going out for an evening meal depending on your opening hours and license, so offering brunch is a way to invite and welcome them to your venue.


Brunch isn’t just for the weekend. Exploit quiet weekday mornings by enticing a different kind of customer to your bar. After all, who can resist pancakes with bacon, banana and maple syrup or poached eggs with salmon. Not me!

Victus Consultancy can help catering and hospitality business with their F&B offering, including procurement, costs, margins, prices and menu design. We can also advise on heath & hygiene and compliance, and as experts in allergens, we can support you with up-to-date legislation and designing creative, appealing FreeFrom dishes.

Call us on 07732 454 639 and we’d be delighted to discuss your requirements.

The cost of refurbishment

We know that everything has a shelf-life or life-span, so carefully planning how and when to refurbish hotel bedrooms is key to the longevity of the product and effective budget management.

Questions arise such as the benefits of employing the services of a Project Manager (PM) rather than tackling the project by yourself. Consider the best use of your time – a PM may charge up to 12% of the cost but could potentially negotiate a saving of up to 15% on contractor costs and therefore pay their own way on the project.

All operators have to determine the timeframe for room and hotel refurbishment against return on investment. Begin with the end in mind, calculate how long the newly refurbished room will last and ensure that appropriate, realistic finance is in place. You’ll want to ensure your hotel is as fresh and attractive as possible, but need to manage how long rooms will be closed for and the associated loss of earnings.

To fully understand timescale, finance and repayments, look at the sales and client mix of your hotel. It then becomes more about size of room over type of room, and about maximising the available space in relation to timeframe of the investment. Fully analyse what’s required from each space. For example, spa guests spend much more than corporate clientele. They tend to stay within the hotel for longer, so besides the cost of spa treatments and associated products, they also have a higher F&B spend treatments, treating themselves to afternoon tea and coffee during the day. Investment in spa rooms will therefore have a quicker return than that of a corporate double for single occupancy.


An operator needs to understand how long the timescale is for depreciation. It is suggested that a bespoke refurbishment will have a life span of three to five years whereas a neutral general refurbishment may last between five to seven and others have been known to sweat the asset to as many as ten years.

There are many tips, suggestions and steps for effective bathroom refurbishment without compromising quality:

  • Paint instead of wallpaper
  • Create a neutral base then enhance with borders or pictures
  • Creative use of mirrors
  • New sink on the existing pedestal
  • Change the taps but using the existing sink
  • Invest in shower screens rather than curtains

It’s also essential to maximise light, allowing light to bounce around the bathroom as much as possible.

In bedrooms, techniques such as building a neutral palate and enhancing using cushions and soft furnishings all improve the product while keeping expenditure under control.


Concentrate on any innovations only after you’ve established your client base and target market, as effective market segmentation will aid in the refurbishment programme and help control costs. A family or group of friends using the hotel as a base to explore will use their bedroom less than a couple away on a romantic break. Whereas a guest who’s on business will require a decent working space with good WiFi, and may need access to a printer and conferencing call facilities.

Indeed, is your hotel suitable, and can it be tailored, for the corporate market? If so, consider creating meeting space which can also be used for private dinners, and break-out rooms which can be used for smaller meetings and workshops, then double up as a space for post-dinner drinks. Establishing who you’re marketing to and why is invaluable before making such decisions when it comes to refurbishment. Again, great WiFi is paramount for the business market.


If budget allows, money should be spent on the quality of the bed and pressure of the shower as guests won’t care if they’re staying in the most beautiful bedroom in the world if they can’t get a good night’s sleep or a decent wash in the morning!

So, understand who your clientele is and what they want. Then decide the features you’d like to invest in while never forgetting the benefits they’ll offer.

Victus Consultancy can help you with all aspects of hotel refurbishment, offering help, support and guidance every step of the way.