In the late 1970's the Mayoralty urged the older Livery Companies to examine the strength of their ongoing links with their original crafts or trades and, if felt appropriate, to re-invigorate their 20th century links. In 1977 Derek Balls, a noted wine merchant and City wine bar owner, was Master and he determined to take up the Mansion House's challenge. With the help of David Lockett, a young liveryman and hotelier, and input from the HCIMA (now the Institute of Hospitality), a plan to form an organisation akin to the Masters of Wine, affiliated to the Vintners Company, took shape and The Master Innholders was launched in 1978. As the name suggests, the prime objective was to promote and encourage excellence in hotels and accordingly the Court invited a number of eminent hoteliers to submit papers as a precursor to membership.
There is no doubt that the foundation of the Master Innholders was an inspired step and has brought wide recognition and benefit not only to the Worshipful Company, but more importantly to the Hotel Industry and the members. Numbers have grown steadily and the organisation's members represent nearly all the most distinguished hotels in London, the City, the countryside and a goodly number overseas. They are one of the most effective voices in the hotel industry and with the support of the Worshipful Company hold an annual conference which not only achieves a large and influential body of attendees, but also attracts experts speakers and industry leaders in many related disciplines.
The ongoing growth of the organisation evidences that the Company has firmly reconnected itself with its roots and that this is a real working connection. There is now a pathway developing along which Master Innholders are starting to be invited to take up Freedom and Livery of the Company.
Since 1996 the Master Innholders have been administering a scholarship scheme on behalf of The Worshipful Company of Innholders to assist in the personal development of managers in hospitality. This contributes towards fulfilling the Worshipful Company's objective of supporting the industry on which their ancient guild was founded hundreds of years ago.
Scholarships have been awarded each year for short management courses funded by the Worshipful Company of Innholders, The Savoy Educational Trust, the Lord Forte Foundation and The Master Innholders Charitable Trust. The courses offered are reviewed each year and those currently offered at Cranfield University, Cornell University and L'Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne.
Candidates are invited to apply during the Summer months and those selected for interview, if successful, go on to their assigned course the following year. An information pack and details of courses and application procedure can be found on www.MI-scholarships.com
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Admission to membership is still by examination and interview, with recommendation from existing members.