During ReviewPro’s last webinar, Using 2022 Data to Guide 2023 Planning, we interviewed Antony Shaw, Vice President of Training & Quality at Kempinski Hotels, on how his company is using review data to fine-tune the guest experience and plan for 2023. Here is a condensed version of our Q&A.
Can you start by telling us a bit about Kempski Hotels?
We are the oldest luxury hotel brand in Europe. We’re celebrating our 125th anniversary this year. The company was founded in 1897 by Berthold Kempinski. Today, Kempinski operates in 35 countries. We have 81 5-star properties and several projects under development. Our portfolio includes historic grand hotels, city hotels, resorts, and residences such as the Adlon in Berlin and the Çiragan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul. Kempinski was also a founding member of the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands.
Tell us about your role with Kempinski Hotels.
I carry the responsibility for training and quality. It’s really twofold. Within the learning and development space, I’m responsible together with my team for ensuring that we equip our hotels with training material that gives our colleagues around the world the competence to perform their roles to the highest possible standard. We make sure that the programs are operationally viable, driving both quality, as well as top-line and bottom-line profit.
Second, from a quality perspective, I’m responsible for guaranteeing a consistent delivery of guest experiences and quality across the portfolio by providing products and services that are fit for purpose and ensuring all our hotels meet and exceed the quality standards and specifications expected from a luxury hotel brand.
What does your latest review data tell you about changes in traveler sentiment and expectations?
Looking at the data, I think Value is definitely a key driver for our guests. And it always has been, pre-pandemic and during the pandemic. And now, as we emerge from the pandemic, our focus is on ensuring that our hotels deliver a consistently high level of service tailored to guest needs.
In addition, experience and engagement rank high in the needs of our guests. Guests value the opportunity to be able to travel again, and we want to ensure that this translates into rediscovering our hotels. So we’re placing a lot of emphasis on service and experience to ensure we’re driving the Global Review Index™ across our properties.
When we look at things like visible housekeeping, I think many of our guests still see this as important despite many countries either relaxing or, in some cases, completely removing Covid protocols. In addition, if we look at the carry-throughs we’re seeing for 2023, areas such as flexibility of booking still rank high. Guests want to be able to change reservations based on their travel requirements.
Other things such as breakfast price and our food and beverage are also very important. We’re seeing F&B as an area of focus for our guests. And, looking at the data out of Q3, I think these priorities will carry through to 2023.
As VP of Training & Quality, how are you using review insights to shape the guest experience and online reputation in 2023?
We’re looking at it on a couple of different levels. First, by making sure that our hotel management teams are working proactively with the ReviewPro platform. So, taking insights the data gives us and translating them into tangible actions. We ensure that our hotels hold weekly quality meetings that bring the key stakeholders together and take time to understand what the data is telling us, looking at the trends and being as agile as possible in ensuring that we address the needs of the guests.
Another key part of the puzzle is our training managers, as they need to translate guest feedback and sentiment into remedial training where it’s needed. So we make sure they get trained on the platform and understand how to utilize it to train the team. We translate this into very short “bite-sized training programs” that allow us, at each independent guest touchpoint if needed, to quickly deliver training where it’s needed. So it’s a just-in-time training approach.
As well, the year-to-date data, not only from the third quarter but looking at all of 2022, was key to our business planning process. We looked at this when we were deciding what quality and training initiatives we need next year.
One key area for us was deep-diving into post-stay surveys. That gave us a very clear indication of what was important for our guests because of the detail of the data. One of the highlights we saw out of that analysis was that sustainability is very important for our guests. They see it as a deciding factor – what we are doing within the space of sustainability. Another topic that came up was food & beverage variety and quality. And then things like internet access and entertainment.
As we move out of the pandemic, people are still utilizing tools like Zoom, and we want to ensure that our hotels’ networks can support their needs. And then there is maintenance and cleanliness, which are extremely important to our guests.
Can you tell us about how Kempinski gets buy-in for initiatives and strategies at a property level?
It’s a question that’s very close to my heart given my responsibilities for both learning and quality. Education is at the top of my list. Making sure we’re offering monthly learning opportunities for our hotels where we pick different areas of the system and highlight them in webinars. We have a whole area on our intranet site where team members can look and learn and take advantage of the materials that ReviewPro makes available, as well as the materials we’ve developed internally.
We also have nominated ReviewPro champions at each of our hotels, who are there to answer questions for the team and support the management team in the use of the platform. We created a quality round table meeting once per month, which brings together our regional operational stakeholders and corporate team members to go through the data from the current month. We also look back two months and use the information to understand trends not only within a region but across the portfolio.
And then we prepare those reports and share them with the hotels, giving them a clear and concise analysis of what we are seeing in the data. And they can aggregate that within their individual hotel and share it with their team.
What are your top recommendations for hoteliers who want to take more of a data-driven approach to training and quality control next year?
- Strive for continuous education. Again, no surprise, education is at the top of my list. I think the more we talk about the ReviewPro system, the more we empower staff to take advantage of what we can get out of it.
- Develop a training = quality culture. It’s very important to create a training and quality environment and culture within the hotel because for me training equals quality.
- Analyze data for constant improvement. Make sure that training stakeholders and the quality and management teams at the hotel work together to find ways to positively influence and elevate the guest experience.
- Integrate data. As we move into 2023, incorporate review data into other KPIs within the company. So look at GRI™ or ADR comparisons and how the numbers change depending on the guest’s feedback and their interpretation of quality.
- Be transparent. Monitor the number of hours invested in colleagues when it comes to training and ensures that review data is shared across departments and hotels. Make all team members aware of how important it is to understand what our guests are telling us about their experiences throughout the guest journey.
A big thanks to Antony Shaw and all our friends at Kempinski Hotels!
To view the webinar, click here.
To find out more about how to use review data to adapt the guest experience and plan for 2023: