The Hardiman Blog
5 Minutes with........ Patrick Murphy, The Hardiman General Manager
How long have you worked in hospitality and why did you choose your career?
“Technically” my first job in the industry was at the age of 7 when I used to do the bottle skips and stock the shelves for a small but fantastic pub in Galway, which is still there incidentally and hasn’t changed very much in the past 40 years! I would go to the farmers market every Saturday morning with Dad (to sell our spuds & veg) and it was just something to keep me entertained. Payment was always a mineral and a bag of Taytos, which for a 7 year old was just the best thing ever! Loved doing it.
I chose the career for many reasons; in part because of the buzz you get from it, which is difficult to explain to those not in the industry, there’s a real social aspect to it in that you’re generally working with people that are themselves really social, outgoing and fun, you’re meeting guests staying with you that are there to relax and unwind, and / or have a good time. There’s obviously a very serious side to the job also in that it is a business and we have to deliver on expectation and service, but it’s fun, fast paced, social and no two days or two guests are the same, especially in The Hardiman which is in the heart of the action in Galway City Centre in Eyre Square
What is your typical workday like from start to finish?
It’s very diverse and busy, generally an early start at 7.30am where I’ll “walk the floor” to review the operation, meet the team and work through any issues that might arise with them. It can be “hands on” in that if needed when the rush comes that I’ll work in the operation, to serve breakfast in our Gaslight Brasserie, work reception, guest relations, etc. It’s a great way to meet directly with the guest and also see where the challenges are in the day to day running of the business. There’s a significant amount of office time required which again is very diverse and involves every aspect of running a business, from reviewing the revenues, costs, contracts, labour costing, forecasting. It involves working with our Sales and Marketing on our initiatives, promotions & strategies. It can be in a guest relations capacity when interacting with our guests on future bookings or indeed feedback on previous. There’s a significant human relations element to the role also, we work with a relatively large team here and although it’s a bit cliché to state it but our business is the hospitality business and it doesn’t work unless the team are aligned with you on it. It is a business at the end of the day, where decisions are like any other financial based but we’re first and foremost hoteliers and the two have to marry.
What is a favourite memory (or more than one) from your job?
I’ve many great memories and making more all the time, but as I meet my wife Catherine through work and we’ve now three lovely children, I guess it would have to be the day I met her on the ground floor of Choice Hotels Clarion IFSC property, in front of the guest lifts.
For you, what is the best part of your job?
Again a little cliché perhaps but it is genuinely working with the team to deliver an exceptional experience for our guests in The Hardiman, in particular when it’s an improvement in our service or product offering and where you see a member of the team grown and develop as a consequence.
Has anything unusual taken you by surprise at work?
I returned to Ireland relatively recently, after living and working overseas for almost a decade and I’ve personally been surprised by the changes in culture in the approach of the Irish customer. It’s not a negative, but rather something I’ve personally had to adapt too. My perception is that there’s certainly a lower tolerance for error and a greater propensity for feedback as a consequence. It just means we have to be much sharper and continue to look to improve.
Have you encountered any famous faces over the years?
Many, I’ve worked in some really nice places where we would have had “celebrities” staying but industry decorum is that we are very private and discreet about our guests.
If you didn't work in your current industry, what kind of career would you have?
I’d be a farmer! Well, I’m actually already a farmer when I’m not working in hotels, but regrettably it’s not possible to make a sustainable living now from this industry, unless you’re very big, and the requirement for off farm income is all too real for me and others like me. It’s a great lifestyle though and it certainly sets you up for life in the hospitality industry.