Rory Fitzpatrick, General Manager of the Clayton Hotel Galway and Chair of the Galway Branch of the Irish Hotels Federation
Tell us about your business.
Clayton Hotel Galway is a modern, award-winning four-star hotel with extensive meeting and event facilities and the flagship Clayton Hotel. First opening its doors in December 2006, it has been providing guests with the ideal base to stay whilst on either business or leisure trips in the area for over 10 years. The hotel is located only minutes from Galway City and is adjacent to Ballybrit Racecourse and the business parks that house so many of Galway’s significant employers. One of the finest hotels in Galway city it features 195 luxury bedrooms, a leisure centre and a choice of dining options.
How did you get started?
Clayton Hotel Galway started life as an independent business back in the heady days of the boom and whilst successful from the outset was beset as many businesses were at the time by indebtedness and the hotel went into receivership in Nov. 2010. I was appointed by Dalata Hotel Group plc in Jan 2011 to steer the business through this tough period and thanks to the hard work of everyone on the team, the hotel was bought four years later by Dalata after they went public. Since then trading has gone from strength to strength with the number employed each year increasing, our market share growing and the outlook brighter than ever before.
What does Galway offer your business, with regard to the tourism and hospitality industry?
Being located in Galway is a huge boon to any hotel, a perennial favourite destination for a wide range of demographics from the culturally curious to young families and everyone in between. Galway exerts a year-round draw both nationally and internationally thanks to its very robust arts and festival scene and any property located in and around Galway benefits from this status hugely. A thriving educational sector and core services and pharma presence underpins and enhances this attraction greatly.
What changes have you seen in Galway over the last 5 years?
Apart from the increasing traffic? We’ve been fortunate in Clayton Galway to be chosen many times over the last few years by the IDA for their new company announcements and it’s great to see Galway attracting so many new start-ups and the extensions and developments of existing businesses.
What is the biggest challenge facing businesses in 2017, in your opinion?
For the hospitality industry in particular it has to be the difficulty in attracting and recruiting the right people. As the economy approaches full employment it really is becoming harder and harder to fill vacancies and that has a direct consequence on our potential to grow our business. I feel those of us who have succeeded to this level have an obligation to entice people into our industry, overcome stereotypes of long, unsociable hours and build awareness of the multi-disciplinary opportunities this industry offers.
How has being a member of Galway Chamber helped you and the Clayton Hotel Galway?
We’ve always found being part of the Galway Chamber an essential part of developing our networking presence and driving referral business. We have an active Sales team in the hotel who habitually attend Business After Hours, Breakfast briefings and sponsored seminars and these Chamber events offer the chance to build relationships with other members that otherwise may be difficult to foster.
What one thing do you do every day that makes your business a success?
Being part of an industry that relies on personal interaction and people relating to people I find it very important to take the time every day to talk to and acknowledge a number of staff members across different departments. Good communications are essential for the success of any business and fostering a culture of open communication where the manager takes an interest in their employees and everyone feels they can express themselves fully translates into the delivery of better customer service.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone just getting started in business, what would it be?
Be bold and ambitious and stoke that same sentiment in your team. Complacency that derives from an early success or routine performance can destroy any company, seek to keep improving and surround yourself with others who want the same thing!