What has changed in hospitality over 100 years?

Cover page of The Monthly Annual Report December 1913

Cover page of The Monthly Annual Report December 1913

The BHA was formed in 1907 and became a company in 1910 “the Incorporated Association of Hotels and Restaurants” with offices in London’s Adelphi district. The first Monthly Report was issued in December 1913, so, from now on, we have the opportunity of looking back 100 years to see what issues were affecting the industry. And it hasn’t changed that much over a century.

Members will be familiar with our BHA Business Update, which began life in 1996, but the first magazine contained a predecessor called ‘Jottings.’ Its first news item gave details of a forthcoming meeting with the Automobile Association “to discuss the question of efficiency of English country hotels.” There was the announcement of the death of Thomas Pettit, proprietor of the George Hotel, Winchester, who had fallen from his horse, and who was described by the coroner as the “best-known citizen” in the city- not a description likely to be applied to many hoteliers nowadays.

Foreword to The Monthly Annual Report December 1913

Foreword to The Monthly Annual Report December 1913

There was a precursor of the Big Hospitality Conversation with news of the next term of “the London County Council School for Training Youths as Cooks and Waiters.” The courses were free, lasting three years for a cook and one year for a waiter, and provided “the opportunity of being trained for a lucrative employment.” A few months later, after the War had started, there was an impassioned plea from a London hotelier for more “English youths properly experienced in waiting” and calling for “a combined effort on the part of hotel men to place before the youth (and parents) of this country the advantages and opportunities of this business.”

Editorial of The Monthly Annual Report December 1913

Editorial of The Monthly Annual Report December 1913

Just before the outbreak of war, at the association’s 1914 Annual General Meeting, the chairman, the Earl of Bessborough, said “I have no doubt that the time has arrived when a decided effort ought to be made to induce the authorities to have the laws, rules, and regulations affecting hotels and restaurants overhauled and thoroughly inquired into with a view to their being brought up to date.” A familiar cry.

Finally, there was an article in that first, December 1913 magazine from Paris headed “Table Manners,” with the visitor reminded to “arrive always at meal time, not to ask the impossible of village inns; if satisfied with his meal, to congratulate the cook, male or female, for, like all artists, the cook is sensitive to compliments.” Nowadays, of course, there’s TripAdvisor.

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2 Responses to “What has changed in hospitality over 100 years?”

  1. Julia Svetlosakova

    Hi Janine, thank you for your view on the hospitality in the UK and the role we play from the BHA! We always look for the latest trends and what’s new on the horizon.
    And again congratulations on the 75th anniversary at the Institute – share some good stories from your magazine and we can include it in our next blog this month when we will look back in time on more issues hospitality was facing over the past century.

  2. Janine Mills

    The expression, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’ is a popular one in the USA and it certainly applies to the UK’s hospitality industry.
    Here at the Institute, we’ve just celebrated our 75th anniversary and, when delving into our archives, we often find – similar to the BHA – that issues affecting the hospitality industry haven’t changed much over the decades. Food waste? Articles from our old magazines cover the war years, rationing and the minimization of food waste. Apprenticeships? Vocational education was, and still is, a hot topic 70 years on.
    The BHA has always been forward-looking, but sees the value in the industry’s history. Perhaps that explains its longevity!

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