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Good to Great – creating 5* service in a budget brand throughout  Europe

The hotel industry is very competitive, with multi-nationals to family run, franchise to fully owned and with constant  new entrants. All businesses are looking to offer customers a reason to choose them.

Accor Hotels were investing heavily in the physical fabric of their Ibis branded hotels – new bedrooms, new restaurant and reception areas. They wanted to match this physical uplift with a step up in the level of customer service that their staff gave to their guests. “We are investing in the  ‘concrete’, we must now invest in our people”.

At the same time, the ways staff were expected to work was changing, becoming much more multi-tasking to enable staff numbers and cost to be reduced.

Accor recognised that great customer service delivers increases in spend during a guest’s stay, increases loyalty – so guests come back more often, and increases advocacy – guests tell their friends and colleagues.

The change in customer behaviour desired was small but significant. From “I’m visiting this city… is there a good hotel I can stay in?” to “I’m visiting this city, is there an Ibis I can stay in?”

The Challenge

The President of Ibis Europe had launched a very, very high level service philosophy “create a Jardin Extraordinaire in your hotels”.

We were approached by Ibis UK (initially) to:

  • Create the UK vision of what Ibis service needed to be to meet the expectations of our guests and to respond to the Jardin Extraordinaire challenge

  • Design and develop a staff and manager service training programme to deliver this vision of service  “Good to Great”

  • Deliver this staff and manager training to every Ibis  member of staff in every Ibis hotel in the UK

  • Develop Ibis in-house trainers so they could continue to deliver the training as new staff joined and new hotels came on stream

  • Design and implement the sustaining supporting structures of recruitment, induction,  measurement, customer feedback and rewards and recognition

With the success of our work in the UK, we were invited to expand our support for Ibis into other European countries  - The Netherlands, Belgium and Hungary specifically. The core requirements were the same as above but designed for their individual context (there was no cut and paste!) but with the addition of:

  • Enabling a single culture workforce to deliver great service to multi-cultural guests

  • Working with and motivating Ibis franchisees to adopt, invest and deliver the same service ethos in their hotels

  • Changing a culture of “I just do the minimum” into going the extra mile

Plus - can you create a simpler cut down version for our F1 and Etap brands.

The programme

Impact Innovation worked with  a core team of the  Accor Country MD, HR Director, senior brand managers and the L+D team.  The key steps of the programme  were:

 

Insight

  • Customer insight - through interviews, observation, mystery shopping, surveys, shadowing, data analysis

  • Staff and Manager Insight – service from their perspective – including enablers and disablers

  • Business Insight – what does Jardin Extraordinaire really mean? What are the revenue targets? Brand guidelines for service, how does Ibis  fit into the portfolio of Accor brands?

  • Related worlds Insight – latest service trends, competitor insight, service safaris.

 

Vision

The creation of a simple but memorable Vision for Service 

- 1 sentence 5 behaviours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Service Boosts

Events and initiatives were designed and run across all Ibis hotels every 3 – 6 months to keep the focus and energy for service high – these included:

  • Restaurant and bar events

  • Promotions

  • Staff awards

  • Guest loyalty schemes

Embedding into the people processes of the Brand

We re-designed the recruitment process, induction, mandatory training, rewards and recognition to ensure Good to Great was embedded from the get go.

Good to Great training

For staff – a 1 day fully interactive, fun, visual, examples led, prop filled,  powerpoint free, experience to make the vision and behaviours  really alive and meaningful in the everyday tasks staff have to perform.

For Managers – a 2 day experience for regional groups of managers that included the key elements of the staff training, role modelling skills  so they can lead by example, how to be a service coach, dealing with difficult or reluctant staff, managers service tools  to keep Good to Great alive and kicking in their hotel.

In every Ibis hotel, in every country we worked, we saw an increase in occupancy, guest spend and customer satisfaction.  Results did vary from one hotel to the next, however on average Accor saw a 10% rise in occupancy and a 10% rise in customer satisfaction.

The other 10% came initially as a surprise. During the programme roll out Accor began to measure a reduction in the turnover of staff.  When investigated further, we discovered that this programme was seen as a great investment in staff development and a key indicator that Ibis was a great place to work.

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