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.
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.”
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.