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12 secrets behind 4 of London’s top 6 hotels.

by Rajul on September 14, 2009

The service at the Milestone Hotel (currently London's number 1 on TripAdvisor) gets rave reviews The Milestone Hotel (currently London’s number 1 on TripAdvisor) is one of several London hotels run by Red Carnation which gets rave reviews

This blog has already covered the fact that various Red Carnation Hotels currently dominate the upper echelons of the TripAdvisor London rankings.

Here we delve a little deeper to explore what lies behind this success.

The number 1 London hotel at the time of writing (though this can change quickly) is the group’s Kensington boutique hotel the Milestone, led by General Manager Andrew Pike whom I met recently.

The other hotels in TripAdvisor’s top 6 are Hotel 41, the Montague on the Gardens and the Chesterfield Hotel.  The Egerton House (featured as a recent number 1) has since slipped to just outside the top 10.

Check rates at the Egerton House Hotel

What’s the “secret sauce” behind the consistency of the group in maintaining this performance across its six luxury London hotels?

When I met the Group’s Managing Director – Mr Jonathan Raggett – a while ago, he was quick to sing the praises of his company’s staff.

This message was confirmed by my visit to the Milestone Hotel near Kensington Palace where Mr Pike and I also spent some time discussing the group’s “Top 12 Service Standards”.

Here they are in full:

1.  Smile and use positive eye contact in every guest encounter.

2.  Whenever possible, call guests by their name.

3.  First impressions are lasting impressions.

4.  Anticipate the guest’s needs.

5.  Through pride and professionalism act as a RCH ambassador.

6.  You spot it, you own it, you fix it, you follow it.

7.  Practise a “Yes I can” attitude at all times.

8.  Discretion and respect are professionalism at their finest.

9.  No request too large, no detail too small.

10.  Think before you speak and look before you leap.

11.  There’s no “I” in team.

12.  To suggest is to sell and to sell is to serve.

Check rates at Milestone Hotel

The art of suggestion is practised with considerable subtlety at Red Carnation hotels The art of suggestion is practised with extreme subtlety at Red Carnation hotels

Check rates at Hotel 41

At first glance these sound like standard fare.  The difference at Red Carnation is the fact that these standards seem to be so well-executed.

Just glance at some recent TripAdvisor guest reviews for the Milestone Hotel for example, and you’ll instantly see what I mean.

I particularly like number 6 above.  Too often, hotel staff are forced to hide behind the need to refer knotty issues up the management hierarchy.  Guests don’t care about this and simply want their complaint resolved.

By empowering individuals to take ownership, staff start to behave like hosts rather than employees.  It’s a subtle but crucial difference.

Check rates at the Montague Hotel

Training and motivation of team members is the key to Red Carnation's success Training and motivation of team members is key to Red Carnation’s success

On the other hand, I took slight issue with number 12 being concerned that this might tip over into the dreaded “upselling”.

The men behind two of London’s most upmarket hotels – Mr Campbell-Gray at One Aldwych and Mr Gelardi at the Lanesborough – are also very much against the concept of “nickel and diming” guests to maximise revenue.

Check rates at the Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel

This view is also shared by Red Carnation Hotels.  “Suggestion” is an art practised with great subtlety with a keen eye for the guest’s interests.

And it is backed by hard data which each hotel collects on guests’ prior stays to ensure that suggestions are highly personalised and relevant.

The ability to instil these values in staff is manageable for Red Carnation because its London luxury boutique hotels are mostly quite small and intimate properties.  Still, the consistent execution is impressive.

Let’s hope other hotels can follow their lead and recognise that everyone deserves efficient and friendly service, irrespective of the room rate paid.

Search for a London hotel – Book Now, Pay When you Stay

Photo credits: Red Carnation Hotel Collection.

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