Scott Curran is the Chief Operating Officer for Reneson Hotels, an owner-operator of branded and independent hotels in California.
He recently told me the story of how he and his team turned around guest satisfaction for the Hilton Garden Inn Napa, which is now in the top 10% of guest satisfaction of all hotels in the Hilton system.
“You have six months to turn this hotel around”
“Soon after we took over this property, I was at a brand conference at the Beverly Hilton and was speaking with Chris Wilroy, one of their senior vice presidents,” Scott recalled. “The first thing he said to me was, ‘You have six months to figure out how to get this hotel turned around or you’re out of the brand.’
“This was news to me because we had just taken over the property. I remember calling the owner and asking if he knew about this – and hearing from him that he was planning to talk with me about it later. It was clear we needed to get to work!”
“After reviewing the situation, I noticed the team there had been working in a tough environment. They hadn’t been managed well in a long time. There were no operational standards.”
“The first thing I did was bring in one of my tenured employees from one of my previous hotels to be Front Office Manager. She was one of the first people I had hired in a prior role, and we got to work.”
Get the right leadership in place
Getting the right leadership in place was key to beginning the turnaround process, Scott told me.
“We needed people that wanted to work together and understood it was going to take work to turn the hotel around. We needed people who believed in our vision of how to treat their associates.”
Get the right people on the team
With strong leadership in place, it was all about making sure the rest of the teams were filled with the right people.
“The employees at this hotel had not been treated the right way, and we wanted to give everyone another chance. We kept every person that wanted to get on board with our new strategy for improvement, and also added some new team members that wanted to be part of what we were trying to do.”
Clarify roles and responsibilities
With the right people in place, the next step was to clarify roles to ensure accountability.
“I’m a firm believer in checklists. They are so helpful for keeping people organized and setting expectations. We don’t need to outline every detailed step someone needs to take, but it should guide them in their day. Checklists give accountability for what needs to happen and then allow a manager to see that those things are actually happening.”
Clarifying communication paths for accountability
With the right people in place, and their roles and responsibilities outlined, defining communication paths was the final important step.
“Communication expectations are vital. I remember at the beginning there was a lot of finger-pointing. If we had an issue in maintenance, they would point to the front office, and the front office would point to housekeeping. We had to get everybody working together as a team and established systems so everyone knew what they were accountable for. From there, it was all about holding people accountable to meet the expectations their teams had of them.”
By implementing these steps, Scott and his teams were able to move the hotel from nearly getting kicked out of the brand to reaching the Hilton “green zone” for being among the top 10% of hotels in their system with the highest guest satisfaction.
“It simply a matter of putting standards in place, finding staff that wanted to be there and be part of the turnaround journey – and treating both staff and guests the right way.”
Read more of Scott’s story here: Operating lessons from a top-rated hotel owner