THE new general manager at a county venue believes that promoting local assets can help it attract international clients.
After being attracted to the ‘unique and quirky’ Longhirst Hall, Tom Keaveny took on the role this summer and he is excited by the challenge of running a site that has many strings to its bow.
He has extensive experience of managing country house-style hotels for many years and also owned his own hotel in the East Midlands.
As well as the 77-bedroom accommodation, Longhirst has 25 conference rooms, the Boyson Restaurant and Collingwood Bar and the Decoro spa facility.
It also hosts wedding ceremonies in the old hall, designed by John Dobson and built in the 1820s, christening and funeral groups, private banqueting and events with local organisations.
Mr Keaveny said: “I was looking for something that would stretch me and I’m delighted to be working at a multi-faceted venue which has untapped potential and allows me to develop my entrepreneurial flair.
“Quality, not quantity, is my focus and I encourage the section managers and staff to treat the business like it’s their own.
“Northumberland is a beautiful place in which to live and work and its people are very strong about its culture and traditions, which is important to me having grown up in a small town in Ireland.
“It has a beautiful coastline, wonderful countryside, interesting market towns such as Morpeth and fantastic food and yet we’re not far away from Newcastle Airport.
“We’re looking to attract some national and international conferences that usually go to UK cities by highlighting what’s great about the county and our own range of facilities, as well as the fact that our prices will be much cheaper than in the cities.”
Since starting the job, he has brought in a new financial controller and a food and beverage manager and carried out a restructure of the sales and marketing department so Longhirst can go further afield for business.
It currently has the Green Tourism Business Scheme silver award and Mr Keaveny, he is married to Liz and they have a son, Michael, aims to progress to gold by linking up with Northumbrian Water for a water conservation scheme that involves installing new taps and shower heads.
On Saturday, November 30, Longhirst Hall will stage a Winter Charity Ball for its nominated charity, Macmillan Cancer Support. For more information, call 01670 795000.