The Hotel TV Series: Good News for the Hotel Industry?

Following an article published on, the second series of Channel 4’s The Hotel focuses on the staff and guests of the three-star Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay. Described as a real-life Fawlty Towers, does this fly-on-the wall documentary do the UK hotel industry any favours?

First and foremost, we should accept outright that The Hotel TV series is supposed to be fun. It draws together the most cringe-worthy events from an entire season at the Grosvenor – many of which are comically mishandled by boss Mark Jenkins – and plays them out to “bumbling” incidental music.

Take for example, Elaine Gibson’s momentous clanger when she asked a widower guest where his wife was. “She passed away after 40 wonderful years,” came the reply.

But behind the comedy façade, hoteliers recognise the problems that plague the UK hotel industry as a whole.

Team Work?

The programme highlights the issues surrounding employee engagement and staff retention. The first episode sees a member of staff responsible for weddings at the hotel delighting in handing in his notice and not appearing on the day of his final wedding.

I’m sure that most hotel general managers have experienced this type of behaviour from a handful of staff members over the years. Disengaged, obstructive and impossible to manage – sure, all industries experience this problem, but the issue does seem to be more acute in the hotel industry.

More importantly, the programme follows the general manager’s struggle to pull his team together and get buy in from all members of staff (no matter how bad his ideas are!).

Take a look at this video clip and note how the employee “delights in her obstructivness”.

And do we blame her? Not really. She’s not motivated to move beyond the specific role she is in. Where is the incentive to change? What are her career progression options? Would anything fundamental happen is she did participate? … Probably not.

And there is the problem. The Hotel, brilliantly funny as it is, reinforces the negative image of working in the hotel industry: low paid, no training and limited career progression.

This is a reputation that UK hoteliers have been hard at work fighting for many years – and all that work can be undone in a single series of The Hotel.


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