Pat McCann, Dalata Hotel Group

Dalata floated on the Dublin and London Stock Exchanges in March of this year

Mon, Jun 16, 2014, 12:47

Born in Co Sligo, Pat McCann started his career in the hotel business in 1969 with Ryan Hotels, moving on to Jurys Hotel Group in 1989.

A former non-executive director of Greencore, EBS Building Society and the Irish Heart Foundation, McCann also served as president of the Irish Hotels Federation. He currently serves as non-executive director of Quinn International Property Management and as the chairman of Euro Care Healthcare.

He was approached by investors in 2007 to found the Dalata Hotel Group and became chief executive of the company that year.

The group, which comprises Maldron Hotels and partner hotels, survived a 40 per cent decline in revenues from peak in 2007 to 2010. It operates 39 properties in Ireland and Britain, with circa 6,000 rooms and almost 4,000 employees.

Its most high-profile properties are the Clyde Court and Ballsbridge hotels in Dublin, which formerly operated as Jurys and the Berkeley Court.

Dalata now has 10 per cent of the market; the nearest competitor has 3 per cent. The company floated on the Dublin and London Stock Exchanges in March of this year, raising €265 million.

What vision/lightbulb moment prompted you to start up in business? No lightbulb moment, I was simply approached by a group of investors to start a new hotel company. This was in 2007 when I was looking at new opportunities.

I had a vision to build a base business in Ireland and expand into Britain. There was talk of a “credit crunch” and “soft landings”. Little did I know what lay ahead in 2008-2009.

What tips would you give entrepreneurs starting out today? It can be a lonely place. The media only report the success stories. Remain absolutely focused on your goal. Bring in people with different strengths to yourself. No matter how good the idea or project, there is never a guarantee of success.

The other thing to remember is that success is rarely a smooth path. It is your ability to get over the “bumps in the road” that will build your character.

I always tell our team here that we should not worry about the competition, just make sure the competition is worrying about us.

How do you generate new ideas to stay ahead of the curve? Give people the freedom to fail. Get people to take ownership of their part of the business.

Our general managers behave as if they own the business. Encourage people to look, learn and share new ideas. Technology is playing a major part in changing our business and our distribution models are changing every day.

We have to stay at the forefront of that or we die.

Have you started to feel the effects of the economic upturn within your sector/industry? We started to see growth in 2010, which has become stronger each year since. The problem for the hotel sector is that the growth is not evenly spread around the country. We still have an oversupply of bedrooms in certain parts of Ireland but that issue will resolve itself.

Government initiatives have greatly helped the recovery of our industry. The VAT reduction, airport travel tax and PRSI reductions have been of great assistance. Events such as The Gathering are also very helpful.

How do you recharge your batteries? I’m a man of simple needs – peace, quiet and fresh air. I am into sport as a spectator – rugby (Leinster); GAA (Sligo and, believe it or not, also Mayo); soccer (Sligo Rovers and Arsenal) all torture me in some form or other.