Engagement is the Secret to glh Hotel’s World-Class Customer Service

Ross Brooks

glh Hotels is the largest hotel owner-operator in London, with over 1600 employees spread across 17 different properties. Their five brands, which include Amba, Guoman and the Hard Rock Hotel in the West End, mean they’re able to cater to the needs of every type of traveller. But no matter which property you stay in, one thing never changes – glh’s exceptional customer service.

These days, services such as Airbnb and Booking.com make it easy for anyone to find a room in a town or city. What sets the traditional hospitality industry apart is the ability to create an unforgettable customer experience. glh Hotels understands that it’s their teams in each of their locations that make the real difference – which is why employee engagement has become one of the business’ top priorities.

The link between engagement and customer service

People are an essential part of every business, but no more so than hospitality, where employees have an impact on every aspect of the customer experience. From head chef to housekeepers, everyone needs to be aligned in order to provide a level of customer service that guests will remember.

In the words of Jessica Collingwood, HR Director at glh Hotels, “I’ve yet to find anybody who can demonstrate that it’s possible to deliver great customer service when your employees aren’t happy or engaged. You can fake it for a while, but it becomes obvious really quickly.”

Employees at glh are the bridge between the company’s promise and a customer’s experience in the real world. When reality exceeds expectations, guests are more likely to become loyal customers, leave a positive review and tell others about their experience.

How glh creates an industry-leading employee experience

“To get the best people, you need to stand for something, and an organisation that gets a reputation for caring about, and taking care of their employees is really important.”

In order to deliver exceptional customer service, glh focuses on creating a great place to work for their employees. They support training and development across the business, and offer benefits such as discounted hotel rooms and childcare vouchers to their employees.

Improving the employee experience takes more than training and benefits, but it’s often difficult to know what employees want. Traditional methods, such as annual engagement surveys, provide limited insight into how employees are feeling on a day-to-day basis. That’s why glh turned to Peakon for a way to gather feedback that could be actioned in real-time.

“If we have the ambition to create a great place to work, genuinely how are we going to do that. We can only do that by understanding the bits that aren’t working for people.”

Being able to see how engagement scores vary in each of their hotels creates opportunities for knowledge sharing and applying proven solutions from one part of the business to another. It also allows glh to develop best practices and make continuous improvements to the employee experience across all of their properties.

Creating a shared language around employee engagement

Employee engagement can mean different things to different people. As Jessica explains, “It was one of those things that felt a bit like a dark art.” Since using Peakon, Management and HR have been able to develop a shared language for talking about engagement.

Instead of relying on anecdotes and gut instincts, managers are able to point to specific examples of what’s working. Jessica has seen the changes firsthand. “We have a language and a confidence about talking around employee engagement that we didn’t before.”

This makes it easier for managers to share insights with one another, freeing up more time to focus on the day-to-day operations of the business. Ultimately, that means they get to spend more time becoming better leaders, instead of trying to figure out what engagement means.

With Peakon, glh has been able to identify, measure and improve the factors that contribute to employee engagement. They’re able to create an environment that makes people proud of where they work. Employees are more likely to go the extra mile and deliver the kind of service that gives the company its name, Great London Hospitality.