The UK’s “Hotel Catey” Awards – the Oscars of the hospitality industry – took place recently in London to reward excellence in 2009.
The deserved winner of the coveted “Hotelier of the Year” award was Mr Jonathan Raggett, Managing Director of Red Carnation Hotels.
We’ve often featured his company on this blog due to the incredibly consistent TripAdvisor rankings of its luxury London hotels. We’ve also looked at the Red Carnation standards, training and hotel management.
I’ve also personally met Mr Raggett several times and can confirm that the two qualities that strike you about him are his enthusiasm and his humility.
Whenever I ask him questions to understand the outstanding performance of the hotels – for example, at the Egerton House, which was for a while London’s top-rated hotel – he always tries to give credit to others.
And while it does indeed take a monumental team effort to run what TripAdvisor reviewers currently consider to be the best London hotels, it’s also true that he has personally played a significant role.
After nearly three decades in hospitality he believes that a good hotelier must be out and about among staff and guests, not sit behind a desk.
In this commitment he reminds me a lot of Mr Gelardi at the Lanesborough whose management skills we’ve also featured. Being visible as a hospitality leader helps to “set the tone” and means you lead by example.
He has applied this principle in practice at Red Carnation Hotels with innovative ideas like the company’s “Trading Places” scheme (in which he even worked a morning as a breakfast chef!) and the “Focus Group Dinner” which I’ve also attended and reported on at the company’s Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel (incidentally: a free WiFi hotel like all within the group).
At the latter event I was struck by how, under his friendliness, there was also a steely determination to get under the skin of even the smallest guest feedback detail which might help him do his job even better.
He is also a disciple of “Flip It” thinking – the attitude that encourages you to take an ultra-creative and constructive perspective to solve every problem, aiming for nothing less than “brilliance” at every opportunity.
Certainly his evangelical emphasis on “TNTs” (“Tiny Noticeable Touches”) – shown by this list of examples of service excellence at the Milestone Hotel – provide ample evidence of this. Others are evident in guest reviews.
It is this painstaking, detail-oriented commitment to excellence which in my view sums up Jonathan Raggett better than anything.
Photo credits: Red Carnation Hotel Collection.