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Case Study – The Imperial Hotel, London

The Imperial Hotel is a London 500-bedroom hotel, which is owned and managed part of a well-known international branded chain of hotels in the 4-star market – Star Hotels which operates 25 hotels in the UK. The Imperial Hotel, located in the heart of London’s West End, caters for mainly international business and tourists’ guests who have high expectation in terms of service standards.
The facilities at the hotel include the following:
• 500 bedrooms, all with en-suite facilities.
• Conference facilities for 1,000 people
• Leisure centre with swimming pool
• 3 Bars and 4 restaurants
• 12 conference rooms
• 6 Heads of Departments: Food and Beverage; Housekeeping; Guest Services & Concierge; Front of House & Reception; and Human Resources & training.
• 450 staff in total (300 full-time and part-time)
• Outside contractors (for specialist cleaning; laundry services; management of the leisure centre;)
A new General Manager, Peter Farnsworth, has recently taken over the management of the whole hotel. He is an experienced manager having worked in several of the other Star city centre hotels outside London. The previous General Manager, who had just retired, had been experiencing a range of problems in managing the hotel, namely that: there was a very high turnover of staff in all the departments running around 80% a year mainly due to poor staff morale; the hotel was graded the lowest in the whole Star chain in terms of overall guest satisfaction running at a rate of 65% in the company’s benchmark grading system; the overall sales in the hotel are improving, and although the hotel occupancy (the ratio of rooms sold against the total number of rooms available) was running at 90% for the year, the actual average room rate (ARR) achieved, currently running at £95 per room per night was relatively low compared to the local competition. This poor performance is having a direct negative effect on the costs of the hotel and the hotel’s overall profitability.
The Imperial is an old hotel having been in operation for nearly 100 years. The hotel was last fully refurbished some 8 years ago but is now in need of some restoration and redecoration. There is a programme of staged refurbishment in place which means each floor of the hotel is being closed for building work to be undertaken. The consequence of this is that, at any one time for the next two years, 60 rooms will be out of action. This is putting the hotel under budgetary pressure due to the ongoing building costs as well as the loss of income from the 60 rooms out of action at any one time.

Planned Strategy for Resolving the Problems in the Hotel
Peter Farnsworth is under no illusion as to the challenges ahead and has decided to plan a strategy for resolving the operational, management and business-related problems in the hotel. The first part of the plan is to identify the top six problems for the hotel for the coming year. He identifies the problems as follows and Peter has put forward some initial suggestions for resolving each of the problems:
• Problem 1: Poor guest satisfaction
• Problem 2: High staff turnover with 80% of the staff leaving within the year
• Problem 3: A negative work culture amongst the staff with high levels of sick leave and poor attendance
• Problem 4: Ineffective leadership and management by previous Heads of Department and supervisory staff including poor monitoring and control procedures
• Problem 5: Front of house staff (Reception, Conference & Banqueting, and Restaurant & Bars)– poor team working and inefficient use of IT systems including the reservation and property management systems
• Problem 6: Back of house staff (Housekeeping, Kitchen, Maintenance) – poor operating and control procedures in place with stock being regularly pilfered and evidence of staff not meeting basic Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) resulting in unusually high operating costs

The Problems in Detail

Problem 1: Poor guest satisfaction

The hotel was graded the lowest in the whole Star chain in terms of overall customer satisfaction running at a rate of 65% in the company’s benchmark grading system. The company average is 74%. In every hotel in the chain the company undertakes a monthly Guest Satisfaction Survey (GSS) with regular guests and this includes a summary of guest cards completed by guests in their hotel rooms, as well as more formal online monthly survey with major business clients. The survey asks clients to grade all the facilities in the hotel (see Appendix 1 for the most recent monthly survey results for the Imperial Hotel).

The most regular complaints received are in relation to issues about checking in and checking out of the hotel, the quality of the rooms themselves and the poor quality of staff. There have been several complaints about the reception staff being indifferent and sometimes rude to guests. Other guests have been critical of having to wait in queues at reception both for checking into the hotel as well as checking out. A considerable number of guests have complained of repeatedly being charged incorrectly in their final bill. Most worrying is the fact that some guests are also complaining that there has been little or no timely response to their complaints.

In terms of the accommodation in the hotel a growing number of guest are being critical of the quality of the hotel rooms and the cleanliness of the bathrooms, with numerous requests for room changes due to showers not working properly, noisy air conditioning, and technology not working in the rooms.

Initial suggestions by Peter Farnsworth to manage the problem:
• Analyse the problem from the customer’s perspective
• Make staff aware of the customer expectations
• Train staff to respond to customer complaints
• Feedback to complaining customers how the problems are being dealt with


As an independent consultant, you have been asked by Peter Farnsworth to take responsibility for analysing the problem, commenting on Peter Farnsworth’s initial suggestions and putting forward a joint set of resolutions for the listed problems. You are therefore to put forward and prioritise proposals for the resolution of the problem. The expectation is that within 12 months there should be dramatic improvement and change in performance in all six areas. You have asked to write a 2,000-word report addressing your single problem topic to attempt to resolve that problem in the hotel. (my problem is *Poor guests satisfactions*)

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