Leading Irish hotelier Paul O’Kane has shared insights and tips on hospitality management, the food industry and how to successfully run and manage a restaurant in Ireland. With years of industry-leading experience under his belt, O’Kane is a proprietor of The Groomsport Inn, The Stables and ‘Ireland’s Oldest Pub’, Grace Neill’s.
O’Kane launched his career in the hospitality industry at thirteen years old when he began working in catering, claiming that this was “the only thing” he had ever known and loved. This path took O’Kane upwards on the career ladder, becoming an experienced and prominent hotel manager.
Through years of extensive experience, he has become an expert in the food and hospitality industry, knowing what works well and what doesn’t. He suggested that those wishing to be successful in managing a hotel or restaurant must take stock of what’s already ‘good’ in the hospitality industry, putting their own unique spin on it.
He also highlights that every pub should be utilising food as it helps to bring in more people and adds to the atmosphere by providing a mixture of guests who are coming to drink, eat or do both.
The hotel manager suggests that for a hotel or restaurant to have a chance of being successful, they must ensure that every visitor is made to feel important and acknowledged. He also highlights that having a clean pub or restaurant and well-presented and attentive staff paired with the right food and drinks at affordable prices will make for a successful hospitality business.
The hotelier also strongly emphasises that every manager should be on the floor of their hotel, restaurant or bar; insisting that if staff see you working hard, then they will in turn work to the best of their ability. Doing this will help managers gain huge respect from their employees and customers, as pointed out by O’Kane.
He goes on to state how staff are a critical aspect of any business success, especially within the hospitality industry. He notes that managers should ensure that staff know how much they are appreciated and valued, as when you have a hard-working and happy team this will lead to a happy environment and fulfilled customers – further indicating how managers must rely upon and trust their staff to build a successful working culture.
Another one of his secrets to running a successful hotel or restaurant is being organised and structured, ensuring that every staff knows what is expected, where they are working and what the business needs; as well as providing a safe environment for staff to give feedback to upper management.
O’Kane also mentions how important marketing is for a successful restaurant or hotel, as you need to be continually evolving with the digital environment to remain competitive and attract visitors to your establishment.
He also empathises on highlighting the unique features of your establishment. For O’Kane, owning one of Ireland’s oldest pubs has had many advantages, acknowledging how the tourism and hospitality industry can come together as a successful combination.
Paul suggests hospitality companies should partner with companies in the tourism industry to help attract overseas visitors to their business.
The hospitality chief also shares his tips on how to successfully manage and take on a hospitality establishment, stating that you must be careful with your wage bill, along with making sure you’re not selling too cheap.
All in all, O’Kane suggests that all the success of a bar, restaurant or hotel starts with having good managers, all the way down to floor staff who can provide guests with a memorable experience.