How the Coaching Inn Group uses guest feedback tech to motivate excellence in their team

With high staff turnover in the hospitality industry, and sometimes multiple sites to manage, staff motivation can be a challenge to even the most experienced managers. UK based hotel-operator The Coaching Inn Group have come up with a unique approach to motivating excellence in their staff across their properties which is paying dividends in the long run.

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According to Adam Charity, Group Operations Manager, and David Campbell, Operations Director, one of the key components of their strategy is their use of GuestRevu, enhanced through an integration with their Rezlynx property management system from Guestline, and the transparency that it provides.

"We can report weekly and monthly, the GMs are trying harder than ever to impress and going the extra mile, and the individual team members on site also strive to get positive mentions."
Adam Charity, Group Operations Manager, Coaching Inn Group

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Competing for great feedback

The guest feedback that The Coaching Inn receives is used in a multitude of ways, from informing budgeting decisions to operations, but, importantly, it serves as a vital tool for motivating staff and property General Managers.

As Adam explains, receiving excellent guest feedback has become a point of pride for each of the hotels, and encourages team members to consistently raise their standards and level of service.

General managers strive to have the best properties

As a standard part of the group's management procedures, reports pulled from the guest intelligence dashboard are sent to group management, and to individual property GMs every week. "It keeps them on their toes in terms of ensuring that all the guests that pass through their doors have a positive experience, because we’re managing it weekly," explains Adam.

Adam-Charity“It keeps them on their toes in terms of ensuring that all the guests that pass through their doors have a positive experience, because we’re managing it weekly.”

Adam Charity, Group Operations Manager, The Coaching Inn Group

"[We send] out a weekly report where all the hotels are ranked in order in all the different categories, such as service, accommodation, etc. The hotel managers definitely do not want to be anywhere near the bottom of those tables, so it’s almost a bit of a pride thing for their hotels that they want to be top of the game. Putting that limelight on the GuestRevu reporting, they’re now trying to raise their game to ensure that every single week – and we send another monthly more in depth report as well – that they’re not flagged on the bottom as doing a bad job."

General Managers have more time to focus on ways to improve their hotel’s performance and “raise their game”, as Adam says, thanks to the automation of their post-stay emails, made possible by their Rezlynx/GuestRevu integration. This means less time needs to be spent on timely exports and manually sending individual emails, and efforts can be focussed instead on the insights that the feedback provides.

Team members go the extra mile to get mentioned by name

Team members within individual properties are also motivated by having such a transparent system in place to go above and beyond, striving to be singled out by delighted guests when they leave feedback, since feedback becomes rewarding in more ways than one.

"We run an incentive called ‘Hero of the Month’ where our GMs nominate a member of their teams to win a £50 bonus each month," explains Adam. "It could be any member from any department. Then all the ‘Heroes’ from throughout the year are called into a group at the Coaching Inn Group awards and the overall ‘Hero’ of the group will win a trip. For example, the one this year is going to New York for an all-inclusive paid holiday. The GuestRevu comments and the feedback help push the ‘Heroes’ to the top of that list when the GMs are looking to nominate."

Adam-Charity“The GuestRevu comments and the feedback help push the ‘Heroes’ to the top of that list when the GMs are looking to nominate... So, it also rewards the staff in terms of giving them something back in return for the service that they’re delivering for our guests.”

Adam Charity, Group Operations Manager, The Coaching Inn Group

"As an example, there’s a particular member of staff that delivers exemplary service day in and day out, and will always get mentioned on GuestRevu, and therefore this particular member of staff has actually been given the ‘Hero of the Month’ three times this year already. So, it also rewards the staff in terms of giving them something back in return for the service that they’re delivering for our guests."

Data-driven management procedures

Within a group, ensuring that all properties uphold a high level of service can be challenging. By integrating GuestRevu with the group's existing property management system, Rezlynx by Guestline, The Coaching Inn Group is able to automatically collect guest feedback data with very little manual effort. "Effectively, it’s an efficient way of doing it rather than employing a manual resource at Head Office or tying someone up to administer it," says David Campbell.

Effectively, it’s an efficient way of doing it rather than employing a manual resource at Head Office or tying someone up to administer it.

David Campbell, Operations Director, The Coaching Inn Group

Making sure that group management is aware of goings-on at individual properties is certainly vital, but what management does with this information is what makes a group like The Coaching Inn so successful.

Ensuring service and guest experience are prioritised

The group strives to provide uniformly exceptional guest experiences across all their locations, and guest feedback allows group management to be certain that General Managers of individual properties in the group are meeting the high standards set by their peers.

"When we’re doing business reviews with the GMs, [the guest feedback] will give us proof with the guests’ comments to say if there are any issues on the horizon," says Adam. "Service is a big one, and if we see any of the sites dip on the service it gives us a structured conversation with backup proof to say to the GMs, ‘Look, something has changed fundamentally. What is it? We need to get this sorted to make sure the feedback is better’."

Adam-Charity“Service is a big one, and if we see any of the sites dip on the service it gives us a structured conversation with backup proof to say to the GMs, ‘Look, something has changed fundamentally. What is it? We need to get this sorted to make sure the feedback is better’.”

Adam Charity, Group Operations Manager, The Coaching Inn Group

Monitoring changes in overall guest ratings over time can also provide valuable information, as David discovered when one property's GM went on holiday. "We’ve always thought service was really good at [this hotel] but in the last four weeks we’ve noticed a few things drop off in the service experience which has given us really powerful intelligence," says David. "We’ve had a fantastic conversation with Neil, the General Manager. Neil has been on holiday for a few weeks, so it’s given him an opportunity to ask his team and Deputy Manager what has happened. A little bit of apathy may have crept in there while they were thinking, ‘We’ve been doing a great job, so let’s take a little bit of focus off it’.”

Getting a balanced perspective before having tough conversations

Just as guest feedback allowed the general manager who had been on holiday to have a more informed conversation with his deputy when he returned, group management also uses guest feedback to ensure they have a full and balanced perspective of any issues, and that all parties are treated fairly when dealing with difficult situations.

"Recently, I received a complaint through our central office regarding one of our GMs and the way that he handled a certain situation at site," says Adam. "I listened to this complaint and started looking into the problems and I was about to call the GM to find out why he spoke to the guest the way he did. I pulled up the GuestRevu survey and the guest was extremely rude about one of [the GM’s] team and used inappropriate language, so actually it added weight to why the GM was a little bit defensive in what he was saying... In that instance, there would have normally been a bit of a tough conversation with a GM because he had an upset guest, but actually, it just so happened that this guest was really quite rude to one of their team members, and openly so on the GuestRevu survey. It gives a balanced view."

Monitoring engagement with guests online

Group management also uses their guest intelligence technology to help them keep an eye on who has and hasn’t been responding to online reviews, so that management can take action immediately if hoteliers aren’t engaging with reviews online.

“Our GMs won't sit behind a desk on their computers day in and day out, but at least now we know we have a process in place that within 24 hours they should be responding to those Hot Alerts”

David Campbell, Operations Director, The Coaching Inn Group

"What we try and do is to empower our managers and instruct them that they must respond to all feedback. You have to measure that somehow and GuestRevu allows us to measure that in a central point," says David. "Recently, we were able to identify four of our hotels that hadn’t replied to their guest feedback in the last few weeks. Beforehand, we would have found that out, but it would have been maybe 2-3 months down the line. Now, I can have these conversations within days or weeks to get our managers into the habit of replying. It’s about tracking our managers to make monitoring and responding to reviews a daily task."

How you use the technology you employ is often as important, if not more so, than the technology itself. Collecting guest feedback can point out areas in your hotel for maintenance or renovation, let you know how your team is performing, highlight the strongest aspects of your guest experience, and even tell you if your guests think you are under or over charging, but all these insights are meaningless if they are not used to inform operations and strategies.

Knowing what aspects of staff training need to be emphasised or revisited, and which members of the team need to be rewarded vital to ensuring your staff is motivated and equipped to provide excellent experiences for your guests. The Coaching Inn Group has used guest intelligence technology to refine their human resources procedures to ensure they are empowering and encouraging their to provide great service in all of their venues.

(Written quotes have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity)

Topics: Case studies, Feedback, Best practices


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