4 October 2018
Strand Palace Hotel has been a central London destination since 1909. Their rich history combined with superb service and ideal location continues to attract a wide range of visitors from all over the world. Strand Palace Hotel offer exceptional service, fantastic rooms and award-winning food and drink: from light bites and cocktails in Gin Palace to three-course a la carte in the Carvery and Grill, via the informal style of Sacred Café, there’s plenty for every traveller to choose from before resting their weary heads in one of the 785 rooms.
In 2017, the hotel embarked upon stage one of a three year long refurbishment project to bring Strand Palace into the modern age and ensure the highest levels of comfort for their guests. Along with the physical refurbishment, the team wanted to ensure that their service was also being reviewed and refreshed on a regular basis. A priority for the hotel and the team is that they do not become complacent and that the team receive structured and informative feedback to continually deliver exceptional service.
Strand Palace Hotel has been working with Quality in Tourism since March 2018, and we visit monthly to review improvements and mystery shop the team. Working with Gemma Hall, Learning & Development Manager, we developed a unique feedback system which aligned with the main business objectives; an approach not usually possible under traditional inspection processes, but which has been essential for matching feedback to tangible changes within the team, training and structure. For Gemma, this was one of the main reasons for working with Quality in Tourism “they genuinely wanted to support our business and not fit a model or template.”
Gemma says “We usually find all the feedback is extremely informative and our people look forward to reading it. I think the one area which has improved as a direct result of the feedback is our Carvery and Grill restaurant. Along with the addition of a new supervisory team, who are extremely open and receptive to feedback, we have been able to develop an enhanced service and deliver a much more guest focused experience.”
When asked what they find most challenging about the process Gemma responds, “For the team, probably not knowing when to expect a visit! We deliberately keep this a secret so the mystery shopper receives the exact same service as any other visitor. It would negate the entire process if we were aware of when a visit was taking place. For me, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between what is beneficial for all our guests, and what could be interpreted as personal opinion. However, the majority of the assessment team are very skilled at clearly writing this in their report and they are also very open to feedback about what could be improved from their side.”
When asked about the results from the partnership, Gemma says “We have definitely seen an increase in people being mentioned by name by guests, which demonstrates that individuals are making more of an impact than they were previously. Our revenue and average daily spend have also improved over the last few months as the team become more comfortable and confident upselling to enhance the guest experience. Overall, I feel the partnership has helped us to enhance the guest journey from start to finish by allowing each department to see the challenges and tasks faced by other departments, which has in turn improved departmental relations.”
Strand Palace is a shining example of an improvement strategy which has been devised and developed to specifically deliver on guest expectations, and which has been programmed and is reviewed to incorporate changes, recommendations and shifts in trends between now and project completion. It is likely that the project will be largely, but not totally true to the original brief and that there will be some specific but essential shifts to the programme too as time progresses. It is this responsiveness and adaptability that will ensure the hotel continues to meet and exceed guest expectations and ensures that it is not outdated or outmoded before the improvement cycle is even complete.