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Taking responsibility – Regent Hotel’s approach to energy suppliers

The Regent Hotel in Cambridge is a family-run business. We caught up with its current hotelier to find out how it manages its energy contracts.
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Regent Hotel in the centre of Cambridge has been run by the same family since 1950. We caught up with Paolo Paschalis, director of the Regent Hotel, to hear how it keeps up and running.

The Regent Hotel is a three-star hotel in a Georgian Grade II listed building, and is run with a small staff of 22 people.

According to Paschalis, the hotel aims to “provide extremely good accommodation at a competitive – not cheap – price, that meets or exceeds the customers’ expectations”.

Despite operating in what has become a difficult market, what with the growth of budget hotels and Airbnb, Paschalis is proud of what the hotel has achieved, claiming that it distinguishes itself by offering a better level of customer service than a chain.

The average visitor to the hotel is there for leisure purposes, and sits in the 40-70 age bracket.

Choosing a gas supplier

When Paschalis came to choose utilities suppliers for the hotel, he made sure to do his homework.

He was motivated mainly by price – but specifically he wanted the longest-term contract available for the best price he could get. This way, the hotel would be sure of its utilities costs for as long as possible, and wouldn’t be at the mercy of changing prices.

He avoided using price comparison websites in his search, because he believes they are geared more towards consumers. This required him to do his own research, and in the end he went for Total Gas & Power, as it could offer him a five-year fixed contract.

“They do very much what it says on the tin,” said Paschalis. “To be quite honest, we have very little contact.

“If they’re supplying you and they’re billing correctly, you don’t need to phone them. If billing is inaccurate or you have a supply problem, they’re the only times you would contact them, and I’ve had neither.”

The hotel has had a smart meter installed, so billing is automatic – but Paschalis makes sure to keep on top of checking it for his personal records as well.

The onus is on you

Paschalis believes as a business owner it is important to try and stay on the ball with utilities, and he actively seeks out better deals and upgrades. He keeps on top of when his contracts are coming to an end so he can seek out alternative quotes and negotiate the best deal for the hotel.

Ultimately, if something goes wrong with your supply, you can yell at your provider until you’re blue in the face but your business will already be suffering the consequences, so it’s crucial to get it right first time.

“We all need energy. Without energy we couldn’t run the business. The hotel would close until the service was put back on, and we’d have to move everyone out to other hotels,” he explained.

“That would not only be extremely costly in purely financial terms, but it would be extremely costly in reputational terms. We’re not unique in that – it’s the same for everyone.”

Paschalis’ key piece of advice to small businesses seeking a new supplier – for anything important to the running of their business, not just gas – is simply “do your homework”.

“Obviously if you can get a recommendation, then that’s great. That might be through a network like the Federation of Small Businesses if you’re a member, or whatever sort of trade association you might be working with,” he said.

“You’re not going to know what the service is like until you’ve tried it, and that’s why a recommendation always comes in handy.”

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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