Management and staff in licensed guest inns (LGIs) are benefiting from sharing experiences and ideas on best practice, following the establishment of a network set up with support from Invest Northern Ireland.

Licensed guest inns are family-run businesses with bar, restaurant and accommodation facilities.

The network brings LGI owner/managers together three times a year to focus on strategic and operational areas. The aim is to help the LGIs improve business performance. To date 16 LGIs have been involved in the network.

Invest NI’s Business Improvement Services team co-ordinates the meetings and provides specialists to speak on subjects ranging from marketing to cost reduction. The network has also enabled LGIs to participate on Invest NI’s Company Development Programme, (CDP) which provides practical and financial support for training and development activities. There are also opportunities to for LGI staff to learn from each other and benchmark their performance against best practice.

Cecil Baxter of Invest NI’s Business Improvement Services says: “Invest NI is committed to helping businesses become more competitive by providing a range of capability development programmes. This is in line with our Principles for Business Support, which seek to offer customised business solutions to help companies achieve sustainable growth.

“The network provides the opportunity for LGIs to find out how to access programmes such as CDP, which helps create a more skilled, motivated and productive workforce. Managers who are faced with similar problems can also exchange ideas, discuss common areas of business and explore business improvement techniques”.

The Cuan Strangford has been pro-active in the network since its inception and has used CDP to support its staff development. The Cuan has achieved Investors in People recognition and was also awarded a Regional Training Award in the 2002 National Training Award competition and more recently the small business training award sponsored by Tourism Training Trust in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

Invest Northern Ireland’s Company Development Programme is open to companies in manufacturing and tradeable services that are engaged in exporting and import substitution, licensed guest inns and larger guesthouses registered by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. The Company Development Programme is part funded under the Northern Ireland programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity-European Social Fund.

The guesthouses that have been involved in the network to date are:
Cuan, Strangford
Old Schoolhouse, Comber
Narrows, Portaferry
Anchorage, Portstewart
Cromore Halt, Portstewart
Gil-Good Lodge, Moira
Hawthorne House, Omagh
Kelly’s Inn, Ballygawley
Corrick House, Clogher
Smugglers Inn, Whitepark Bay, Portrush
Customs House, Belcoo
Mellon Country Inn, Omagh
Slieve Croob Inn, Newcastle
Planters Tavern, Waringstown
Fullerton Arms, Ballintoy
Montague Arms, Tandragee