Harry Murray’s hotel career spans 50 years and has involved him managing a number of hotels in the UK and South Africa, including The Majestic Hotel in Harrogate, The Imperial in Torquay and The President in Johannesburg. In 1997 he was appointed managing director of Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, a role he held for 13 years until he decided to become chairman of the hotel’s board.
He received an MBE in 2006 for his services to hospitality and, although no longer in a front-facing role, Murray ‘refuses to retire’ and, as well as being chairman at Lucknam Park, continues to support the industry through his associations with HOSPA, where he has been president for two years; The Master Innholders, The Gold Service Scholarship, The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, The Edge Hotel School, UKHospitality, Springboard and Hospitality Action.
In the latest of our Getting Social with… series Murray tells us about his social media diet and why engaging in it is so important to him. You can find him on twitter as @hmurray9.
As managing director of Lucknam Park I would not have had the time to use social media like I do now, so I didn’t start on twitter until 2013. I think I was at a Relais & Châteaux conference and I saw what people were doing and it prompted me to sign up.
If I do something, I want to do it well. If I’m going to be a patron, I want to make a valuable contribution and I think the same about twitter. If I’m on it I want to do something useful, so I tend to go in head first. You’ll see me at an event taking photos and getting ready to Tweet. I usually post straight away if I can.
twitter is the platform I use the most. It’s always up-to-date and is the best way to keep on top of the news, trends, education and awards in hospitality and tourism. I’m involved with lots of organisations and twitter is the best way to network with them. Sure, you can do it through email or over the telephone, but twitter is so much quicker.
I tend to digress onto sport on twitter and Instagram. I’m a great follower of all sports, but particularly rugby. I have Welsh, Scottish, Irish and English followers on twitter, so it was quite fun when the rugby world cup was on.
LinkedIn is useful if I want to check up on someone’s career history. I signed up to it in 2009 and it’s a great way to keep up-to-date on hospitality and tourism leaders, their moves and new jobs, and I like to hear the opinions of people like the human resources director of the Dorchester Collection.
I don’t spend all day looking at social media, but I do check it daily. First thing in the morning I’ll see what’s happening and comment accordingly. I’m a great one for exercise, which I do every day, so if I’m relaxing after the gym with a cup of coffee, I’ll take a look at what’s happening. If I’m watching some boring television in the evening I might check in, but my wife goes mad if she sees me on my phone.
Kate Nicholls is doing a fantastic job at UKHospitality. She is really in-tune with government, hospitality and trends, so I follow her to keep updated on what’s going on in hospitality.
I’m a great follower of leadership. I follow TED Talks and subscribe to Harvard Business Review so I know what’s going on in that area and pass on tips. Someone I look at on a regular basis is Matthew Syed of The Times, because he’s always got something interesting to say. He was a world champion in table tennis and has written a number of books. Actually, a lot of these leaders write books which I tend to download.
The biggest benefit of social media is it keeps me in-tune with the whole industry. Being semi-retired I wouldn’t know what was happening otherwise. I know people in a similar position from the industry who aren’t on it and they are totally cut-off from what’s going on.
I’m concerned about the lack of visibility of managers in hotels. I think they spend too much time on their computers and mobile phones and not enough time with their staff and customers, so if I was a general manager today I’d delegate social media to the marketing department. You need someone who is totally focused on it and isn’t worried about whether breakfast or a function is going well.
Social media allows me to congratulate award winners and encourage others to enter competitions. It’s great to see young people in the industry winning awards. We’ve had several at Lucknam Park win awards this year and I like being able to post my congratulations to them on a public forum. I’ll also encourage people to enter things like the Master Innholders’ Aspiring Leaders Diploma, The Gold Service Scholarship or the Roux Scholarship. It can take courage to enter, but winning these competitions can change careers.
Businesses work hard to gain one customer at a time, but they can lose them in thousands if something goes wrong on social media. It has to be used wisely.
Another hotelier recently asked me how to solve a problem with his property’s water heater. I said ‘go on twitter’. I find it really useful to fix things directly and quickly. I’ve Tweeted South West Trains before to vent my feelings when the service has been appalling.
Communication is so important. It’s something I’ve always believed is important and social media is great for that.
About four weeks ago I received a message on twitter from someone I’d worked with at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay. He said I’d spoken to him for 15 minutes in my office and it changed his life. I got emotional about it. It’s quite incredible how social media can connect people instantly in that way.
H&C News would like to thank Harry for his ‘social’ insight and his time, much appreciated !