Modern travellers and guest experience: Interview with Kevin Charity

Kevin Charity, Founder and CEO of the Coaching Inn Group, is one GuestRevu client who definitely knows his way around the hospitality industry. The son of a publican, Kevin himself acquired his own licence at the tender age of 18. His flair for hospitality and business acumen combined over the course of his career led to him successfully founding and developing the Coaching Inn Group (originally the Bulldog Group), which now runs inns throughout the UK.


Image credit: Yorkshire Business Daily
Kevin Charity (third from left) with Edward Walsh, Lily Charity and Kelly Butler at The Publican Awards 2017 where The Coaching Inn Group was named Best Accommodation Operator and Best Pub Employer.


Kevin’s skill as a businessman is evident in the many accolades the Coaching Inn Group has achieved, including being named Best Accommodation Operator and Best Pub Employer at The Publican Awards 2017, as well as one of the London Stock Exchange Group’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain in 2015, and winning Pub Company of the Year at the Eat Out Awards, also in 2015.

We picked the brain of this industry veteran to find out what he thinks of the modern hospitality industry and how he handles guest experience across a group to uncover some pearls of hospitality wisdom.

Where did you begin in the hospitality industry?

I started out where many people begin their careers – right at the bottom, washing up in a restaurant. Not the most glamorous role, but it provided a great grounding.

What is your position now?

Over the years I have moved up from pot washer to CEO of The Coaching Inn Group Ltd.

What are the biggest challenges that you face today keeping up with modern travellers?

Understanding current trends and requirements of today’s travel industry is completely different to 10 years ago. The biggest change is that guests’ expectations have risen, almost doubling each year. That’s why great feedback and intelligence is essential if you want to keep up with your guests’ demands.

When running a hotel group, how do you even begin to manage and improve something as variable as guest experience across all the properties?

It’s been said that it’s not what we say or do, it’s how we make people feel that’s important. Therefore, one thing we make sure we get right across our group is the constant and consistent training of our people, making sure that our “guest culture” is the same in every one of our venues.

What do you think the hotels could be doing better to improve loyalty?

It is easy to forget that the little slip-ups are what will cost you dearly in terms of guest loyalty. Consistency is key; customers will remain loyal if they always get what they expect (or more), once they start to get let down and are disappointed then keeping them loyal is a serious battle.

What are the major trends you see when it comes to the way technology affects more traditional types of accommodation?

In particular, I am still amazed at how so many traditional operators still don’t take Wi-Fi seriously – customers never return if they can’t get decent Wi-Fi. More generally, though, I think it’s never been a better time for operators to be able to use technology to their advantage, as most forms of technology are so easily accessible. However, it’s important not to get caught up in fads; the key is spotting the latest technology trends that will be staying around for a while and not wasting time pursuing something that by next year doesn’t matter anymore.

Which and where is the best hotel you’ve stayed at?

I have lots of favourites, but for many different reasons. However, if I have to choose one, it would be the Goring in London. They offer amazing first-class 5-star service, but with a genuine, friendly sincerity – that combination is hard to beat.