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THE BEST THING ABOUT THIS BOOK IS ITS TITLE
on 6 June 2007
Here's a question. You've bought a book that purports to offer advice on how you can maximise the potential of your hotel/guest house. The author offers various tips and ideas and at the end of the book, asks for your feedback or comments and provides his email address for you. So far so good - except he misspells the name of his own company. (Hotesalessuccess.co.uk instead of Hotelsalessuccess.co.uk).
Faced with such astonishing carelessness, do you now:
a) Still trust all the advice and tips you've been given ?
b) Start to wonder if you've wasted your money in buying the book and your time in reading it ?
Michael Cockman might well be a hotel uber-guru, but he's not much of a writer. But that needn't be a problem. Neither are most of the authors on the best-seller lists. What they have and Mr Cockman clearly doesn't though is a good editor and a good proof-reader. The former to provide the discipline and structure that are totally absent and - let's be honest - some nod in the general direction of literary style; the latter to avoid embarrassing typos on the last page. (Supreme irony here is that Mr Cockman quite rightly emphasises the importance of 'first impressions' in the hotel industry. Maybe 'last impressions' in publishing were worth a thought too ?)
All this could be forgiven though if the book actually told you anything. Here's an abbreviated para from the Preface:
"I wrote this book as a practical guide for owners and managers of independent accommodation business...It doesn't matter whether you have a large or small hotel or call yourself a hotel, pub, bed and breakfast or guesthouse...the challenges are the same."
And having set out his stall to be all things to all accommodation owners, Mr Cockman then spends most of the ensuing 300-odd pages advising big establishments how to attract corporate clients. That's fine if you run a big establishment, but not much help if you really do own a B&B or a guesthouse and don't boast a bar, or a restaurant, or room service, or minibars, or a spa (with which Mr C has a strange fixation), or any more of the multitude of bolt-on goodies that hoteliers seem compelled to provide in order to survive nowadays.
I'd be churlish if I didn't admit there were a handful of decent suggestions. I highlighted twelve. In a book of 313 pages costing £8.99, that works out at one good idea at a cost of 75p every 26 pages. Which isn't that great really.
You scream in frustration at the lack of case studies showing how Mr Cockman's ideas/suggestions have been implemented. What's gone right ? What's gone wrong ? Opinion is presented as fact and the arbitrary is presented as reasoned and thought-through. Sorry and all that, but this is a complete and utter crock of the first order.
I started this review with an example of a crass carelessness and I'll end with one. On p304, Mr Cockman salutes the achievements of Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks - and calls him Howard Scultz. Please let me never, ever, ever stay in a hotel that follows the Cockman ethos.