Staying Power: A Review of GDS

GDS: still a force in travel bookings
GDS: still a force in travel bookings

According to a recent blog by Peter Ducker, the Institute of Hospitality’s Chief Executive, the GDS – or computerised–reservations systems (they included Sabre, Amadeus, Galileo and Worldspan) that were originally created by the airlines to distribute flights through travel agencies are still a force to be reckoned with in the hospitality industry.

Major airlines may have taken a wrong turn when they sold their GDS shares, which “allowed the businesses to become companies in their own right”. Enter OTAs (online travel agents), which challenged the popularity of GDSs, then leisure travelers embraced internet tools for travel taking a further chunk of business away from GDSs.

However, all is not lost for the GDS companies.  Ducker confirms that business travel has revived flagging GDSs. “Research from TravelClick of 650 travel agents in 34 countries showed a 14% increase in use of the GDS to book hotel accommodation from 2011 to 2013. During the same period, the usage of hotel/chain websites for direct bookings rose just 3% and the use of other channels such as agent booking tools, travel websites, hotel directories and direct calls dropped significantly by 21%.”

Read more from Peter Ducker FIH about the development and current standing of the GDS sector in his guest blogger post at: WTM 2014.


Passion for Asian Cookery? Enter Zest Quest Asia

If you have a passion for Asian cooking ...
Enter Zest Quest Asia if you have a passion for Asian cooking

Cookery students: if you think you have a knack for vibrant Asian cookery, then you’ll want to enter Zest Quest Asia.

Chef Cyrus Todiwala OBE FIH has just launched Zest Quest Asia – the new name for the Asian Junior Chefs’ Challenge ‒ along with the MasterChefs of Great Britain (MCGB). Chef Cyrus knows a thing or two about Asian cooking – he owns the delightful traditional Indian restaurant Cafe Spice Namaste in London, the elegant and upmarket Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen at Heathrow’s Hilton and the brand new Assado restaurant at Waterloo Station, which offers a fusion of Indian, Goan, Portuguese and Brazilian cuisines. M-m-mm!

The aim of Cyrus and the MCGB’s Zest Quest Asia contest is to get home-grown chefs to show the “excitement and fervour, delicacy and elegance” of Indian cuisine and culture and to raise awareness of, and interest in, Asian cuisine here in Great Britain.

    This competition is open to college students who hold a British passport and are permanent residents in Great Britain. There is no age limit.
    Teams of three students should produce a four course authentic meal based on the cuisine of Pan Asian countries with the main ingredient being produced in Britain.
  • WHEN:
    Entries are now being accepted until 20 June. Entry forms are available from Sue McGeever at

There are plenty of prizes, but the three overall winners and their lecturer will get a seven-day culinary experience in a Pan-Asian country. Last year’s winning team of three from Westminster Kingsway College in London got to travel to India on a culinary learning trip through key Indian cities. This really is the chance of a lifetime for budding chefs with an interest in Asian cuisine.

Hurry and enter now. The contest closes on 20 June 2014. Entry forms can be found HERE.


n its second year, the competition has been rebranded to help convey the “excitement and fervour, delicacy and elegance” of Indian cuisine and culture, and set it apart from other competitions, it was confirmed. It aims to raise awareness of and interest in Asian cuisine among home-grown chefs.

Todiwala – who has just opened new restaurant Assado in London’s Waterloo ‒ announced the competition launch at the annual conference of the Professional Association for Catering Education (PACE).

It requires students from catering colleges across the UK to cook a four-course, pan-Asian menu, and make a presentation on their knowledge of Asia, the evolution of international cuisines, and sustainability issues.

Entries are now being accepted until 20 June. Entry forms are available from Sue McGeever at

– See more at:

Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen

Creating ‘Brilliant Customer Service’ in Hospitality

Top Titles on Customer Service
Top Titles on Customer Service

It’s the question on every hospitality manager’s lips: “How do I create brilliant customer service?” To find out, the Institute hosted industry expert Sarah Gilbertson from Result Coach Ltd at its most recent webinar.

Sarah spent a worthwhile half hour explaining how hospitality businesses large and small can put a simply structured process into place to produce a customer service plan that delivers results. Topics covered included how to identify key customer information, how to make the most of one of the business’s most important assets, recommendations regarding the customer service and social media mix, and how to deal with that stickiest of customer service situations – when the customer isn’t right (gasp!).

During the course of the presentation, Sarah also mentioned some of her favourite customer service titles (see accompanying photo). They include:

  1. Raving Fans : A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles
  2. 5 Star Service by Michael Heppell
  3. The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences by Matt Wilkinson
  4. Setting the Table : Lessons and Inspirations from One of the World’s Leading Entrepreneurs by restaurateur Danny Meyer

If you didn’t get a chance to attend this webinar, it will be available to view in 30 days in the Institute’s Online Catalogue, along with other Institute webinars.

After a brief hiatus, the webinars will return following the Easter break. To get the latest information on forthcoming webinars, visit the Institute’s home page and book your place for future webinars.

The webinars are a FREE Institute of Hospitality member benefit and make excellent continuing professional development (CPD) and student training. Non-members can attend the webinars for a nominal fee but we recommend becoming a member of the Institute to obtain access to the Institute’s extensive member benefits.


UK Hospitality Industry: A Return to Growth


Please Tell Us Whether e-Cigarette ‘Vaping’ is Allowed in YOUR Hospitality Business…


Please help us determine how hospitality businesses are handling the increased use of e-cigarettes by answering a single question about the smoking – or ‘vaping‘ as it is known – of e-cigarettes in hospitality businesses.

Click this LINK to be taken to the 5 Second Survey  – or use the QR code to the right to access the survey on your mobile or tablet.

English Tourism Week Celebration is 29 March – 6 April 2014. Be a part of it!

English Tourism Week is a week-long celebration of events showcasing the quality and vibrancy of the visitor experiences and the value our industry brings to our nation. Accommodation, pubs, restaurants, destinations, attractions and tourist information centres are all invited to participate.

ETW14 will take place between 29 March and 6 April 2014, that’s next week! Preparations are already underway but it’s not too late to get involved.

The Acorn Inn, Dorset, is a fine example of the charming hospitality on offer in England.
English Tourism Week 2014 is a celebration of all that is wonderful in English hospitality and tourism. Join in and make the most of your hospitality offering! (Photo: Acorn Inn, Dorset, England)

This year’s campaign is encouraging even more destinations, businesses and organisations to use the week to showcase the value our industry brings to local communities and to the national economy. There are plenty of tools and support for organisations in the build up to the big week. Participation can also help put your hospitality and tourism business on the tourism map!

You may be running a bed and breakfast establishment, pub, café, local attraction or be the managing director of a national hotel or restaurant chain… every sector counts! So take advantage of English Tourism Week to promote your business.

It might be that you already run an annual event that you can schedule during English Tourism Week; or you could create a new event or hold a local competition; or if you’re communicating you could add a banner to the bottom of your emails and flyers to show your support for the week. It doesn’t have to be big or costly; the simplest ideas can be really effective.

By organising your own event under the English Tourism Week 2014 campaign you will raise the profile of your business and be adding to the combined efforts of the week to raise awareness with local residents, their visitors and key decision makers. Get involved and inspire local residents to discover the destination on their doorstep! View English Tourism’s slides (below) to learn more.

Winning Smile: James Fleming Awarded Gold Service Scholarship 2014

The smile says it all! Peter Ducker FIH (l) and James Fleming (r), winner of the Gold Service Scholarship 2014.

Following a nationwide search to find a rising star in the hospitality industry, James Fleming, 24, Chef de Rang at Raymond Blanc‘s Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, has been crowned the winner of the Gold Service Scholarship 2014. Claridge’s hosted a glittering ceremony last night, where James was recognised for his enthusiasm in providing the ultimate front of house restaurant experience.

James (pictured with the Institute’s chief executive Peter Ducker FIH) will now receive a year of expert mentoring from industry greats such as Diego Masciaga at The Waterside Inn and Emmanuel Landre and Silvano Giraldin at Le Gavroche. He will have the opportunity to work with the Royal Household at the State Banquet, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Europe and visit Champagne to enhance his skills in all aspects of front of house service and customer experience. As an ambassador for the scholarship, James will be a leading example of a successful career in front of house hospitality and will encourage people to celebrate the importance of great service.

Ahead of yesterday’s ceremony, seven finalists battled it out at The Connaught, Mayfair in a final attempt to impress the elite judging panel. Edward Griffiths FIH, Deputy Master of the Household at Buckingham Palace, and Alastair Storey FIH, Chairman of lead sponsor BaxterStorey, were among the lunch guests who helped select James as the winner. James stood out for his expertise in welcoming and engaging with customers, preparing and delivering exceptional service, and the sommelier skills of food and wine pairing.

Alastair Storey FIH, Chairman of lead sponsor BaxterStorey, said: “We have a talented industry full of creativity and passion, which we celebrate through the Scholarship. It’s gifted individuals like James and our other entrants who help to create memorable dining-out experiences and they are the future rising stars of Britain’s restaurants.”

Willy Bauer FIH OBE, Founder of the Gold Service Scholarship and Chairman of AB Hotels, added: “I’m delighted that James was chosen as the Scholar for 2014. His passion and enthusiasm is exactly what this industry is all about and his ability to provide an impeccable, seamless service is second to none. This competition is all about giving young people the opportunity to learn among some of the best in the business to ensure that ultimately, front of house professionals continue to raise the bar in hospitality and the customer service experience.”

James, winner of the Gold Service Scholarship 2014, said: “It’s an honor and a privilege to be the Scholar for 2014 and to follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner Rebecca Dibben. I’m excited to embark on the many fantastic placements afforded by the scholarship and to work alongside industry greats, who I never thought I would meet, let alone work with! I hope that the Scholarship inspires others to pursue a career in such a dynamic and rewarding industry.”

As part of his award, James receives a year’s membership of the Institute of Hospitality.

The next Gold Service Scholarship competition will be open for entries in September 2014. Please visit for more information.