Red Carnation Hotel Collection - Digitalisation & Centralisation Strategies
HOTELIERS' VOICE S2E7
Suzie Thompson, VP Commercial of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection – which has 18 properties in UK, Ireland, Geneva and Africa - explains how the company has had a couple of remarkable years expanding and winning awards. During the lockdowns, Red Carnation created a more centralised strategy and unified sales and marketing teams.
“During the pandemic, we brought sales reservations, PR distribution and revenue management into one team. The most significant change was taking individual reservations teams out of the hotel and centralising them just as one UK team. The great thing was we had time to invest in product knowledge, and training,” she said. The teams have become much better at cross-selling portfolios, such as the six London destinations.
The enforced lockdowns were a good time to embed new skills. Suzie feared implementing Microsoft Teams would be daunting, but it took only a day. “It's amazing what can be achieved when, when there's a real requirement for something to change,” she says.
“Although we were bringing a team into one commercial structure, actually none of us were together physically, but we were living together on Teams and communicating probably more than ever.”
Investment decisions had been made pre-pandemic and teams had gone through the brand strategy and design aspects. So the company was able to continue with the strategies. One major project was to roll out 20 new websites.
Returning to the office post-pandemic brought different advantages. “We could see what had been missing in the online environment. Really bringing teams together in offices and hotels can’t be achieved virtually.”
After the pandemic, having dedicated US leisure specialists was critical. “We felt expertise could be brought in to help us scale our efforts because a lot of our team is based in the UK, but our operation is global and our biggest market is the US.”
Suzie tells us that the investment in US and global PR came out of a decision to move away from representation through leading hotels, small luxury hotels, and Relais and Châteaux. “When we arrived at 18 properties with two new hotels opening in Botswana in 2021 and Edinburgh this year, we felt it was time to go out on our own and stand strong as a collection of properties.”
The company continues to work with major technology providers such as Salesforce and Synxis, but also likes to consider newer tools on the market that are easy to deploy. For example, Suzie says they have chosen to work with start-up Selfbook which creates a front-end user interface for guests that brings in different booking engines.
“Most of the time when looking for new solutions, we’ll go to our industry peers and colleagues for honest feedback."
It's important that we're working with reputable partners. But the technology is one thing. If it's not implemented properly and embedded in the culture with good enough training, tools can easily be forgotten about.