Thursday, 24 February 2011

Life in the Media

It was an absolute pleasure to welcome Ian Murray, Editor of the Southampton Evening Echo, to speak to the Wessex Women's Network on Tuesday February 22nd. His talk about his career and the insight into life in the media was not only very interesting but also very entertaining. He has a great sense of humour which is something you probably need when dealing with the media.Although the numbers for the meeting were down this month probably because we had overlooked that it was half term, we all had a very enjoyable evening with lots of laughter. Ian is very approachable and encouraged us to send in any Press Releases of events or stories that may be of interest to him. Surprisingly it is better to send it hard copy to the paper than by email as they receive so many emails, you have a better chance of having your Press Release noticed if it is in hard copy.

Many of us are either Mums or Grandmothers and are trying to entertain the children this week as it is half term. I am no exception as I have 5 Grandchildren and this week is primarily devoted to them. I hadn't been able to get my video player to work for some time but Ellie who is 6 soon got it working with no effort!

Talking of Mums we will be celebrating Mothering Sunday on April 3rd so if any of you are thinking of spoiling your Mother on Mothering Sunday, lunch at The Cloud Hotel is getting very busy so you do need to book early. Alternatively to show how much you appreciate your Mum and the care and love she gives you treat her to one of our special afternoon teas and to make it extra special add a glass of champagne. Booking is necessary as we expect to be very busy.

One of the charities I support is Naomi House children's hospice in Sutton Scotney near Winchester. It has been caring for terminally ill and life-limited children since 1997. It costs around £5 million a year to run both Naomi House and Jacksplace, the new hospice for teenagers and young people who have outgrown the facilities at Naomi House. With less than 10% coming from the government they rely heavily on the support of the community. Jennifer Nutburn is a member of The Wessex Women's Network and has raised thousands of pounds for Naomi House and brought to our attention the LK. Bennett Spring Fashion Show and Dinner to be held at the De Vere Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton on Friday March 18th in aid of Naomi House. Tickets are £45-00 available from Claire Harrington at Naomi House 01962 843513.

The next Wessex Women's meeting is on March 22nd and the speaker is Kiki Maurey 'Staying Positive -a Secret Recipe'. Kiki has been described by Barclays as 'One of the best keynote speaker/facilitaters in the country' and I can vouch for that as I attended Kiki's workshop at the 'everywoman' conference last November. She was inspirational and I loved listening to her, she convinced us all we certainly need to have a positive attitude if we want to succeed.

Awards are not only a great marketing tool for businesses and individuals but also a way of recognising the hard work and effort that business people have put into making their business a success. Women in particular need this recognition and encouragement and I would like to inform you of the Dorset Business Women Awards 2011 to be held at The Langtry Manor Hotel in Bournemouth. The award was set up to celebrate the achievement of women in business in the Dorset area. I realise that this is short notice as all entries must be in by March 7th but if you have a business in Dorset and would like to enter this year's awards details of all the categories are on the website and it's still not too late.

Spring will soon be here, we can look forward to the lighter evenings and the opportunity to enjoy what life throws at us. Business is tough at the moment but if you want to succeed in business you have to go that extra mile.There is less competition there!

Life doesn't require that we be the best-only that we try our best. H. Jackson Brown Jr


Sunday, 20 February 2011

Forecasting your future

My head was buzzing with ideas after listening to David Smith's inspirational presentation on forecasting the future at The Wow Company Networking evening at The Winchester Hotel. David Smith is a futurologist and Chief Executive of GFF- a strategic futures research organisation. He is a passionate believer that we are not victims of what the future might hold if we prepare ourselves in advance. He shared his insight on the key trends that will shape the future of small businesses and it was a rare opportunity to listen to one of the world's leading experts on the subject. I found it mind blowing! David is running a half day workshop 'What's Next?'on March 17th at the Winchester Hotel and if anyone is interested in attending this event you can contact David on 01372 210941 or I am hoping to go to this workshop myself as I find David so inspirational and I believe business is like dance, you can never stand still.
The Wow Company is a firm of proactive Accountants offering an innovative approach to Accountancy, Financial Planning and Business Advice. They are passionate about helping businesses grow whatever the market conditions  and they run several excellent networking events a year of which I usually try to attend. For more information
Love was in the air at The Cloud Hotel on February 14th and it was a full house for lunch in the Encore Restaurant on Valentine's Day for 'The Young at Heart' proving you are never too old for Love and Romance. The evening celebrations started with champagne and canapes followed by a four course candlelit dinner. It is often said that Valentine's day is just another way for businesses to make money but I believe it is an opportunity for couples to spend some quality time together. Showing our love for each other can often be overlooked in the busy world we live in.

Finally I love quotes because for me they provide daily inspiration.

Our Greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.- Thomas Edison

Remember quitters never win and winners never quit!


Friday, 11 February 2011

Inspiring young girls to succeed

I have just returned from the Careers Fayre for Year 9 at Avonbourne School for Girls in Bournemouth. The aim of the event was to provide the girls in Year 9 an opportunity to meet local FE/HE providers and businesses to discuss career opportunities. I am not only passionate about encouraging young girls and women to meet their full potential but also to encourage them to have a career in hospitality, travel and tourism so this was an opportunity for me to promote the industry to them. It is a large,vibrant and growing industry that needs a skilled and motivated workforce and it is full of potential especially for young women. I provided them with useful websites to research that would give them more information about opportunities available to them. It was a long day and very challenging as trying to keep the attention of 14 year olds is not easy. However I hope I managed to inspire a few girls to consider hospitality as a career. It was surprising how many of them thought of hospitality as just 'cooking'.
As you know I believe in working hard and playing hard and I spent a very enjoyable evening last week at a ladies event organised by Scottalls BMW dealers in Chandlers Ford. It was the idea of one of their young female staff and one hundred ladies attended much to their surprise, they didn't expect such a good response. The champagne flowed [I was sensible enough to get a taxi] and there were stalls with ladies shoes, lovely clothes, cards and chocolates that we could buy and all owned by ladies.  Congratulations Scottalls on a very relaxing and fun evening and for not even trying to sell us a car!
I had another enjoyable evening last Saturday at The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton when I took my eldest daughter and two grandsons to see 'Footloose'. What a fabulous show, I could hardly sit in my seat the dancing was so exciting and energetic and there was so much young talent in the show. Shows like 'Footloose' really lift your spirits and are better than any tonic, I almost danced home.
The next Wessex Women's Network evening is on Tuesday February 22nd when we have the pleasure of welcoming Ian Murray as our guest speaker to talk about 'Life in the Media'. Ian is the Editor of the Southern Evening Echo and I'm sure we will have some interesting questions to ask him about the responsibility of the media.
Although the media continues to report doom and gloom I still believe there are business opportunities out there and a recession can give you the opportunity to take stock, refocus and embrace change in your business enabling you to survive a recession and often come out of it stronger. Use the downturn in the economy to your advantage. It has been a slow start to business this year but I am already beginning to see those green shoots appearing and I don't mean the snowdrops and crocus. Spring will soon be here and we will enjoy lighter evenings bringing hope and optimism with them.
Love is on the menu on Monday 14th February Valentine's Day. I love to see our Restaurant full for our 'Young at Heart' Valentine's lunch, it proves that you are never the wrong age to be romantic.
I hope you all find some love on Monday and all year.

Remember 'We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give' Winston Churchill'


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A New Year and New Opportunities

It was a pleasure to welcome back 24 Wessex Women to the January meeting after a break of several weeks due to Christmas and New Year and what fun we had! Maureen Broughton, front of house Guide at Beaulieu and Breda Nichols a Guide at Palace House gave us an entertaining and interesting presentation of 'A Maid's Eye View' of life at Beaulieu. They arrived in costume and we were all fascinated to hear the history of the Montagu family. Maureen had only come out of hospital that day so we really appreciated her coming to talk to us. She has my philosophy of life 'If you're standing up and breathing you're on!' Many thanks Maureen and I hope you are feeling better.

The Cloud Hotel always closes after Christmas for refurbishment and general maintenance. We re-opened for business on Friday January 14th. To me business is like dance you can never stand still and this year the lounges and reception area were given a new look. Whilst the hotel was closed I took the opportunity to have a holiday with my eldest daughter Amanda and we cruised round the Caribbean Islands. We had a wonderful time and alot of fun. I really believe it is important to take a break from your business and to give yourself quality time with your family. I always return from my holidays refreshed and with new ideas. Anton Mosimann was the celebrity chef on board the Silver Cloud and what a delightful man he is unlike some of the celebrity chefs we see on television these days, his food is also delicious.

No sooner had I returned from my holiday when I was on my way to London to stay at the newly refurbished Savoy Hotel in London for the 18th Master Innholders General Managers Annual Conference. The theme was 'Creating an Explosive Force in Hospitality' The hospitality industry is still male dominated and so was the conference but I go to the conference most years to listen and to learn. However I felt like 'exploding' when a photographer asked me to stand to one side as he only wanted to photograph the men! Luckily for him I'm mature and experienced enough not to re-act but I wonder how a younger woman would have re-acted as they are trying to encourage more women into hospitality! The Savoy re-opened on the tenth day of the tenth month in the year of 2010 after having been closed for three years. It's first guest was Stephen Fry who checked in at 10-00am. My room was stunning and the bed to die for but there was no mirror where you plug in the hairdryer so I couldn't see to dry my hair, it must have been designed by a man!

Speaking of encouraging women into the hospitality industry I am delighted to report that Lucy Whittington has been accepted by The Ritz Hotel in London to do two weeks work experience. Lucy has been a part time member of staff for five years and is the daughter of Mandie who has worked at the Cloud Hotel for 18 years! They are both valued members of staff and we are very proud of Lucy for being offered this opportunity against, as I understand it, some stiff competition.

It was stiff competition at the HRS Hotel Excellence Awards that I attended on January 26th at the Millbrook Towers in London. What fantastic views of London we enjoyed from the 29th floor whilst sipping our champagne!The finalists for the different categories came from as far away as the North of Scotland down to Bournemouth in the South and were represented by the large chain hotels and the smaller family hotels. I always enjoy these events. it gives me an opportunity to catch up with friends, discuss the future of the hospitality industry and recognise the talent that is emerging amongst the competition. It keeps me on my toes.

Burns Supper is always a very popular event at The Cloud Hotel and this year was no exception with fifty four people attending to have fun, good food and wine concluding the evening with Scottish Country Dancing. It was another great night with Harry Macfadyen who piped in the Guests and then the Haggis! It is the ninth year we have had the pleasure of welcoming Harry to our Burns Supper, it wouldn't be the same without him. The Burns Supper in 2012 will be held at The Cloud Hotel on Saturday January 28th and I suggest you book early as it is a very  popular event and we have bookings for it already.

I can't believe it's February already and it won't be long before the green shoots of Spring will be appearing in our gardens. I'm a great believer in positive thinking because I truly believe that positive people create positive results. In spite of all the doom and gloom reported in the media I believe there are opportunities out there and a downturn in the economy can be used to your advantage. This is an opportunity for you to look at your business, take stock, refocus and embrace change. If you have been made redundant this is an opportunity for you to create the business you have always wanted start. From a crisis does come an opportunity so make sure you take it.I did and I'm pleased I did,

The next Wessex Women's Network event is on Tuesday 22nd February when Ian Murray Editor of the Evening Echo will talk about 'Life in the Media' hopefully with some positive thoughts.

Don't forget to remind your loved ones that it is Valentine's Day on February 14th, [they usually need reminding] and get them to treat you to a romantic dinner at The Cloud Hotel.

Finally 'You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to leave the shore'