The architectural landmark is one which The Royal Crescent is eager to celebrate and began planning 18 months in advance. With the aim to have everyone involved and feel part of the activities. The anniversary includes a specially created logo which will appear in printed and online hotel material. Guests may take flight in a Taittinger hot air balloon and soar over the beautiful city of Bath or if staying in a Suite receive a specially commissioned bottle of Bath Gin amongst other treats. For Jonathan the celebration begins on the doorstep with a Afternoon Tea picnic for local residents and the staff. A reward which illustrates the importance placed on the team since Jonathan joined.
“When I first arrived two years ago, the mind set was to promote Bath first and The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa second, the city was the destination and if people visited, they would hopefully stay with us. We swapped this mind-set to make the hotel the destination and Bath became an experience the guest may wish to do.” Jonathan explains how the local tourist authority has been focused on 80% day market and 20% stayer market. Not the ideal approach for hotels and therefore his aim was to make improvements to the product and now they are starting to see the benefit.
The change in strategy has also been effective because this year sees 400 to 500 new rooms opening in Bath. “Luckily they are mostly in the four star market and I don’t want to sound arrogant but I believe our brand is now strong enough to only feel a slight impact. It could even favour us with some guests opting to stay away from the actual conference venues if they are in town and attending an event at these new properties. I also believe the four star market may fight between themselves and with our location a little outside the centre, we shouldn’t see as much effect on business as city centre hotels, which geographically may feel something.”
Jonathan has 44 years industry experience including six years as GM of The Old Course Hotel in Scotland. To ensure the hotel is ready for the future of luxury hospitality, Jonathan has also implemented a change to the hotel’s market positioning to make it competitive to those slightly further afield – Cliveden House, Chewton Glen and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. “This allowed us to amend our room rates so they are more comparable with this grouping. During the high season we have brought up our rates by £100 and on the off season by £50 to £60.”
Having a clear vision has helped Jonathan and team prepare themselves for the future. They formed a plan for where they wanted to be in five years and produced a mission statement for each year. This included building a profit over time and realising the full potential of the hotel, which is reflected in the anniversary celebrations. Jonathan believes that behind it all is a philosophy of what the customer journey will be and how this is delivered.
“We invest heavily in our people and support them as well as continuously improving the product. I apply my experience and personally run service, sales and cultural training. I want to train managers to become leaders and this year we are taking head of departments on modular training courses given by an external company. This form of classroom training can benefit the team and I feel now is the right time to apply this. I have taken them so far and if we were to do this any earlier they wouldn’t have embraced or benefitted it as much.”
Training the team personally is a feat that takes up much time but Jonathan believes it is what’s needed to help the next generation through. He also trusts that external training is needed for overall development and both forms of learning allow skills and passion to grow. Jonathan understands that some may go on to other hotels, even after this heavy investment, but he just wants them to remain motivated and benefit the overall industry.
This implemented educational system is connected to the vision they have set at the hotel and the team are empowered to take risks where the guest isn’t impacted. “The team are dynamic here and we have found that by setting the vision they will activity stay in touch even when they are on holiday. This isn’t because we have asked them, they want to do this. It is not seen as an extra thing to do.”
“The younger generation, and by that I mean up to the mid-40s, have more of a balance to their life. Their relationship with their partners is not as traditional as my generation. We worked up to 100 hours a week and our partners accepted it. I think the next generation don’t want to do this and I don’t expect them to. They would like breaks, holidays and access wellbeing through different forms.”
Jonathan sets the tone for hard work at the hotel and is an example for the next generation. The hope is that this transpires down to the younger members of the team. He still walks the floor and keeps attention to detail in all areas. He praises those at grass roots level and makes sure he tells someone if they are doing a good job and thanks them.
Jonathan believes in genuine care and comfort for the guest and makes sure his team are there to cater in a personalised way for each person. “Encouraging engagement with the guest builds confidence on both sides and although each guest is different, our staff are taught how to be the best they can be”.
Setting a vision may be an easy task to tick yet implementing it can be one of the hardest challenges to achieve. Jonathan and his team have pictured where they want The Royal Crescent to stand and amended their strategy to ensure they are in pole position. Their educational programme has empowered their staff to allow a flexible experience for their guests and is aligned to their overall objectives. As a proven leader in the industry, Jonathan has used his experience to ensure his passion is passed down and his team understand fully where the hotel wants to be. As they celebrate 250th years in one of the country’s most famous crescents, Jonathan is making sure the next generation are prepared to take the hotel into the next chapter.