HSMAI Profile: Terence Baker

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Terence Baker
Reporter, Europe
Hotel News Now

Q: What does a day at work consist of for you?

A: Much as is the case with everyone else on the planet nowadays, very busy. I’ll flick through the news first, and if there is a breaking story in the hotel world, I’ll jump on it. As all Hotel News Now’s other staffers are in the United States, I’ll probably see anything before anyone else. If not, I’ll be writing up other articles I have in mind, scheduling interviews, editing others’ work and liaising with my STR Global colleagues, who I share an office with, on industry metrics and data. We also have an annual conference, The Hotel Data Conference, in Nashville, Tennessee, to organise.

Q: What’s the best part of your job?

A: It really is that I am working in a meaningful, interesting field — hotels, travel and business. I really could not do this if — an absurd example perhaps — it was doing the same but for Reality TV.

Q: Do you have anyone you’ve looked up to?

A: No, not really, but perhaps that is because I lived in New York City for 20 years. I only got shivers once, when there was a possibility of interviewing Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

Q: Do you have any nice traditions at your office?

A: Again, not really, apart from there being a great deal of food always in circulation. Not a tradition, but there is a moving statue outside the window of an artist complete with palette and brush. That’s a little odd, and nice.

Q: How long have you been a member of HSMAI?

A: I am not a member, but I have long gone to its conferences here in London and had the real pleasure of meeting many of its Scandinavian members in Oslo. HNN has worked closely with the organisation for many years.

Q: What do you think is the best thing about HSMAI?

A: I have always enjoyed how its membership is not afraid to speak its mind. Revenue managers are often seen as the lone wolf in the hotel herd, but as we all know, it is where so much of the vitality of hotels is coming from, and will come from.

Q: Are there any activities or projects you think HSMAI should start up?

A: One of the big debates is how revenue management is changing the traditional set up of hotel staff infrastructure. Conference speakers even suggest whether its rise means the complete reorganisation of the general manager’s role. That’s too hasty a forecast, but I would very much like to see regular panels of revenue manager speaking with different hotel silos. One time, it could be revenue managers speaking with general managers; the next time with sales and marketing; the next time with F&B, et cetera. That would be very useful.

Q: Describe your perfect weekend.

A: A 20-mile run in the freshest air of a sunny summer morning, following by coffee; then several hours of walking in the countryside looking at birds (birding is one of my hobbies), butterflies and views, with lunch in a classic British pub, an afternoon of much the same, followed by an outdoor barbecue with my wife Francesca and friends while listening to records by The Fall, The Smiths and David Sylvian. Sunday: repeat, although the run would be half the distance.

Q: If you were trapped on a desert island, what would you take with you, if you could choose just one thing?

A: I assume we are not meaning people here. An inanimate object? Hard to choose between a set of arrows in a quiver that I bought miles away from anywhere in the jungles of Panama close to the border of Costa Rica, from the Naso people, or the first copy I bought of Gabriel García Márquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. Not to be too dramatic, but it really did utterly change my life.

Q: What is the title of the book about your life?

A: He wondered what was around the bend, so he went there.

Q: What is your next travel destination?

A: Funny you ask, Francesca and I are in deep discussion about this. The last two mega-trips have been to Skye in Scotland and to Ethiopia. We’re undecided for this year between Sri Lanka, Laos or Vietnam.

Q: Do you have any special hobbies?

A: Birding, literature and running—lots of running. I have run 22 marathons, with a best time of 2 hours, 44 minutes, 56 seconds. A friend and I once did what is called a Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, that is, a double crossing of Arizona’s Grand Canyon, running 67 kilometres and with 11,000 feet of net elevation. Madness, but what memories!

Q: Thank you for your time. Do you have any personal comments?

A: Keep up the good work, and hello to all my new friends in your wonderful part of the world. I love walking along the Akerselva and visiting the travel bookstore Nomaden on Uranienborgveien, and five years ago I made it up to Svalbard. That’s a special place, too.