Jane Pendlebury is CEO of HOSPA. Prior to being appointed as HOSPA’s CEO, Pendlebury ran its Membership and Events office from 2014-2016, growing it significantly. A well-known figure in the hospitality industry for many years Pendlebury spent Five Minutes With… us recently talking with our publisher.
What brought you into hospitality?
“I completed my degree in hospitality management and my first job was in a hotel. I loved it; the people – both colleagues and guests. Hotels have something about them, and I immediately knew hotels and hospitality were for me.
“I also worked in conference organising, joining a company in London. Similarly to hotels, bringing people together and providing hospitality was hugely satisfying and I simply enjoyed it.
“If you are lucky enough to enjoy what you do, you can then apply yourself to doing it to the best of your ability – the ‘people’ aspect of hospitality really drives me.”
You started out on a hotel reception desk, worked your way up through the ranks of the hospitality industry, from a trainee duty manager at DeVere Hotels to the Vice President and General Manager EMEA of an international software house, before joining HOSPA and eventually becoming its CEO. What drives you?
“I am not on a mission and it’s not about ticking career boxes for me. I have over time come to really value hospitality as an industry, and I don’t believe you can ever get bored by the goings on in a hotel or hospitality business.
“Hospitality is not often an obvious choice for school leavers as I think there are often a number of misconceptions about the nature of careers within it, but it is an industry where hard work and determination can rapidly win you opportunities and quick progression into senior roles.
“A key point in my career was moving to a US-based hotel technology company selling technology to hotels and hoteliers. As I knew hotels, how they worked and operated, I could understand how hoteliers could effectively leverage technology to grow their revenue streams.
“The US company I worked with operated what I would call a meritocracy; your effectiveness in helping to grow the business was rewarded, and promotions followed from that. I was a successful salesperson which led to bigger deals, therefore more responsibility and I enjoyed it immensely.
“I also grasped opportunities when they presented themselves, always following advice that my father gave me throughout my life; never to be afraid of the unknown! One such opportunity was working at Visit London during the time London was bidding to host the 2012 Olympics. As General Manager of sales, our aim was always to think freely, not being restricted by what’s gone before and that approach worked.”
What are the priorities for hospitality in the next five years?
“The people and skills shortages across the hospitality industry has been, and continues to be, our number one priority. I think we need to engage more with schools and communicate with children and parents more, ensuring that hospitality is positioned as a viable and worthy career choice. Once we have good people on board it is vital that we continue to offer ongoing professional development and opportunities for them to succeed and grow.
“Sustainability is also a vital component of the hospitality industry; we need to adjust more and faster to the needs of our planet as well as changes in consumer behaviour and spending choices. This also presents an opportunity for all in hospitality to improve our businesses and our impact on society for the better. This also fits well with communicating with schools, children and parents through our actions.
“The adoption of technology is an area where hospitality as an industry does not lead the way in business. Many other sectors have been nimbler and benefited accordingly.
“Technology enables hospitality businesses to develop customer insights that can be tailored to providing hyper-personalised experiences. Experiences that motivate loyalty and provide complimentary cross and upsell opportunities.
“As an industry, hospitality has much to be proud of and much of this needs to be communicated more clearly, more effectively and with pride.”
I would like to thank Jane for her time, and I hope readers enjoyed reading her interview as much as I enjoyed talking with Jane.