Dan Brod, along with his business partner Charlie Luxton, is shortlisted for the Independent Hotel Show Awards in the Independent Hotelier category. Brod is also taking part in the ‘Innside the Original Hotel’ panel discussion at the show, hosted by Luxury BnB Magazine, which will be taking a look at the evolution of pubs with rooms.
Brod and Luxton run The Beckford Group, which is comprised of The Beckford Arms, The Talbot Inn, The Bath Arms and the Lord Poulett Arms. We caught up with Brod to dig deeper into the relationship between pubs with rooms and the traditional hotel.
Hi Dan, what do you think are the main differences between a hotel and a pub with rooms offering?
Once of the main differences is customer expectation. The term ‘hotel’ has clear connotations whereas pubs with rooms means different things to different people. Six or seven years ago The Talbot Inn was named ‘The Best Hotel in Britain’ by The Sunday Times and although this was enormously flattering, we had customers turning up wondering where the swimming pool was. It’s about being clear about what you are. We feel more like innkeepers than hoteliers, and in the US the word ‘inn’ is much more commonly used. I think the term ‘pubs with rooms’ comes with the expectation of interacting with the local community, having that authenticity and connection. Pubs are a local facility, whereas often with hotels there’s an inherent sense of exclusivity, that you have to pay money to get through the door. A pub is inherently welcoming, and that’s at the heart of everything we do.
How do you think the idea of ‘pub food’ has evolved over the years?
Pub food has changed hugely over the centuries, let alone the years. Pub food has moved on a lot in the past few decades; the word ‘gastropub’ has crept in there, which isn’t a word anyone likes but it’s essentially what a pub with rooms has to deliver on. It’s about being authentic to what pub food is, not being pretentious. Putting things like fish & chips and ‘traditional’ food at the heart of your menu, doing it very well and using good produce. To me quality food doesn’t mean high-end, Michelin meals. We have fish & chips and burgers and steak, plus other choices that give our menus depth for people staying for two or three days, and to cater for increasingly varied diets. You want proper local, seasonal produce, but those should be a given now. Ten years ago, you’d put it on the menu but nowadays it should be a matter of course.
How do you build a successful inn brand?
I would simply say do everything well. It’s not coming up with a fashionable brand image and trying to live up to it, it’s being authentic to yourself and your locale. The worst approach is having a design agency or PR person telling you what’s in vogue; just be truthful. That’s true of all brands, and guests can sniff it out. Let your best marketing be happy guests and word of mouth. It’s especially true for pubs, which are often so historic. Good pub groups have to be small. It’s not something that you can authentically do at scale. It’s a small and delicate thing, and I think that’s true of boutique hotels too.
When does an independent transition into a ‘chain’?
To me, independent means there are owners who are actively involved and who really care. That ‘caring’ is put into everything we do. We take care of the guests, we care about the furniture we buy, the food we serve…everything. It’s very important, and that’s what hospitality ultimately means to me. As we grow, we are careful to imbue this spirit into every single one of our staff and I think that’s what we spend most of our time doing.
The ‘Innside the Original Hotel’ panel discussion takes place 2:30-3pm on Tuesday 5 October at the Independent Hotel Show.
Host Juliet Horner, Editor of Luxury Bnb Magazine, will be joined by panellists Dan Brod of The Beckford Group, Kevin Charity of The Coaching Inn Group and Adam Taylor
of The Feather Nest.
Register for your complimentary pass at independenthotelshow.co.uk