It’s common in today’s age of hospitality to claim a dedication to great guest experience and customer service. And indeed, we live in a time where truly excellent service is a common feature of hotels around the world. As perhaps one of the best ways to truly differentiate from competition, it’s simply good business for hoteliers to strive for a superb guest experience. Yet, in practice, many hotels are unready to commit to making an excellent guest experience their guiding principle.
Edwardian Hotels, however, are not like many hotels. This UK-based hotel group proudly showcases their dedication to guest experience right on their homepage: “What makes us successful is our ambition and ability to deliver one thing: A truly exceptional experience for our guests. And we do it every day across our portfolio of brands in highly prestigious locations, in the UK’s capital and beyond.” What’s even more impressive is how Edwardian has been able to leverage technology in achieving this goal. Whether it be a guest-facing AI, in-house developed apps, or leading the industry in implementation of new technology, the Edwardian Hotel Group has set a high standard for other hotels around the world.
Founded by Jasminder Singh in 1977, a former accountant turned hotelier, today Singh’s Edwardian Hotel Group includes 12 upscale and luxury hotels with over 3,000 rooms and is now one of the largest privately owned hotel groups in the United Kingdom. This group includes The May Fair and The Edwardian Manchester, both part of premium lifestyle brand Radisson Collection, and 10 Radisson Blu Edwardian hotels. The group is completed by a number of acclaimed restaurants and spa brands including May Fair Kitchen, Bloomsbury Street Kitchen, Peter Street Kitchen, Leicester Square Kitchen, Monmouth Kitchen and May Fair Bar, as well as Steak & Lobster and Scoff & Banter.
Edwardian’s latest project, The Londoner in Leicester Square, will feature 350 rooms and a cinema complex. It is due to open in 2021. Edwardian makes sure to give back as well by supporting Cancer Research UK, The Springboard Charity, which helps disadvantaged young people in the UK, and the Edwardian Charity Fund, which supports various social causes. They’re similarly recognized for their sustainability practices, winning a number of awards.
The Edwardian Philosophy
Behind all of the impressive growth, social initiatives, and technological vision (more on that soon) is the invested and caring philosophy of a family-run business. As Kris Leszczynski, Group General Manager, Service Operations at Edwardian explains, “As a privately owned company, Edwardian Hotels London has family values embedded within its DNA.
As ‘Brilliant Hosts,’ [the staff’s] mission is to light up every guest experience – and we do this by being on constantly. This behaviour lives in our values; in our dedication to being genuine, ambitious, and quality driven.”
To Kris and his team, a great guest experience is personal, and as such, is different for every guest. That’s why personalization is a must. This is done by collecting as much relevant information as possible via technology and interactions, from pre to post-stay. All of this is analyzed and acted upon as appropriate. This method is applied across their portfolio and works well despite their hotels being very distinctive from each other. This informed approach leads to excellent guest experiences. “Testimonials say that our service is friendly and caring,” says Kris. “We always want to know what our guests think about us – we listen to feedback and are ready to rectify any issues.”
A Birthday Like No Other
“A few years ago, a reservation comment told us that a guest was bringing his son, Tobias, to London to celebrate his birthday. After contacting the guest through an automated questionnaire, we learnt that they were here to watch Chelsea FC play at Stamford Bridge – Tobias’s favourite football club. One of the Chelsea players at the time was a regular at the hotel and we enjoyed a great relationship with him. We asked him if he could help us make Tobias’s birthday extra special. After the game, Tobias and his dad were invited to meet the team! The boy was absolutely over the moon and said it was a dream come true. They are still regulars to this day.”
Using Technology as a Tool not a Toy
Edwardian Hotels uses technology as an essential tool to help enhance the guest experience and that of employees, too. “A person is always at the forefront of service delivery and the usage of technology is subtle and seamless,” explains Kris. “Technology is a tool – albeit very powerful.”
Edwardian Hotels takes a focused approach to technology, using it to accomplish specific goals rather than it being nice-to-have or simply because others are using it. This approach, similar to what we’ve seen with other hotels we’ve profiled, is key to their success with a tech-enhanced guest experience.
What does this look like in practice? Their focus on technology is shown in a couple key areas: streamlining communication and sharing data with the staff to enable the correct actions and follow-ups. Let’s take a closer look.
Powered by Tech From Pre-Stay to Post-Stay
Edwardian Hotels use technology to make processes more efficient and effective, employing a number of tools like internally-developed apps, financial integrations, APIs, communication tools, and more. The Edwardian team has tech built into every step of the guests’ stay, from pre-stay through post-stay, all of it designed to streamline and improve the guest experience. Let’s dive into how Edwardian is using tech to streamline and enhance the guest experience.
First, prior to a guest’s arrival, the appropriate pre-arrival information is delivered to the guest. Guests also can engage with the team via chat on their website if they need assistance with reservations.
When it comes to check-in, Edwardian has streamlined the process for guests by introducing online check-in back in 2016. They also leverage mobile functionality to make the check-in process easier. Edwardian has stepped into the next generation of check-in processes by integrating into check-in the hotel’s own virtual AI assistant named Edward, leading us to the subsequent section, guest communication.
Communication & AI
One of the most interesting tools in Edwardian Hotel’s arsenal is Edward, their virtual AI
assistant, which aids in online check-in, personalized questionnaires, and pre-arrival
communication with guests. Edward can also respond to guests’ queries by text message,
saving the staff time, streamlining operations, and giving guests the ability to just text rather than call. In addition to Edward, the Edwardian team has also made a significant investment in their phone systems and CRM platforms. Following the trail of tech-investments, the hotel has advanced in Smart TV systems which notifies guests of various offers and promotions.
Edwardian’s in-house developers have built a number of apps for the hotel designed to enhance the customer and employee experience. These apps include the Breakfast App, which has modernized breakfast service, and Housekeeping Apps that have done the same with housekeeping. They’ve also developed a number of financial integrations via various APIs to better understand operational efficiencies. Moreover, the teams are operating with a developed online chat and working with skill-based call center solutions.
Post-Check-Out and Guest Feedback
And once a guest has left, technology is used to gather feedback, analyze results, and provide actionable information to the staff. After the guest completes a questionnaire via Edward, the hotel uses ReviewPro to help further identify product and service issues and trends using feedback intelligence.
All in all, Edwardian aims to use this technology to, “improve operations through analysis, anticipation, and delight and wow factors – increasing efficiency of bottle neck areas, such as arrival and queue-busting,” says Kris. In other words, using technology intelligently and strategically to accomplish your guest experience related objective.
A final note worth mentioning is Edwardian’s new strategic partnership with Microsoft. While we don’t know much about this yet, we’ll be looking forward to hearing more from Kris and his team in the future.
The Edwardian Hotel Group’s strategic use of technology to reach their specific experiential and operational objectives, and the intensity with which they focus on these objectives are key to their success in creating an excellent guest experience. Indeed, this philosophy of using technology as a tool to reach specific goals and unlock previously inaccessible potential now seems to be a common thread among many of the hotels we’ve profiled so far.
Yet Edwardian is remarkable for their level of dedication to this philosophy, and the scale at which they’ve applied it– to 12, soon-to-be 13 properties with over 3,000 rooms– certainly an impressive accomplishment.
So what does the future of the Edwardian Hotel Group look like? Well, for starters there’s their soon-to-open latest property, the Londoner. They’re also entering a multi-million-pound investment period that involves their entire business model. This, as we’re told, will include a special relationship with Microsoft, upgrades to their contact centres and development of AI, CRM developments and introduction of Omni-channel solutions.
We are very much looking forward to these and other developments in the world of Edwardian Hotels. They will no doubt offer us even more inspiring examples of how hoteliers can use technology to enhance, strengthen, and improve the guest experience.
This article was originally written by the GX Spotlight team. It has been moved here as part of the Shiji Group family of hospitality technology brands.