Paul Watson, GM of Thistle London Heathrow speaks to hotel-industry.co.uk about running a busy airport hotel.
Meet the GM:
- Name: Paul Watson
- Property: Thistle London Heathrow (since March 2011)
- Number of rooms: 264
Hotel-industry.co.uk: How did you begin your career as a hotelier?
Watson: I worked as a chef whilst completing my A-Levels. I soon realised that my strengths probably weren’t in cooking, so I decided to pack my bags and head off to university and prepare for a career in hospitality management.
Hotel-industry.co.uk: How would you describe your style of management?
Watson: I try to lead from the front. Personally, I believe there is incredible value in spending as much time with people as possible – whether they are staff or guests. After all, our hotels are the people that work in them, and our business is the people that use them.
Hotel-industry.co.uk: What achievements are you most proud of at your current property?
Watson: Having been at the hotel for only a short time our efforts are focussed towards offering genuine hospitality. Using our customer feedback analysis we have managed to grow our hospitality rating by eight points in one month alone. It is amazing the difference a warm smile can make to any guest experience.
Hotel-industry.co.uk: What keeps you awake at night?
Watson: Achieving the hotels potential – whether that be with our product or the services provided – requires a positive, dynamic and focussed team. Questions must be asked as to whether we, as an industry, are doing enough to attract the right people to hospitality, and once we have them are we doing enough to keep them?
Hotel-industry.co.uk: How is the market changing in your sector and region?
Watson: Investment into new hotels continues in Heathrow with planning applications submitted each week in an already highly competitive market. T5 is now complete, T2 is currently under redevelopment and there are further plans for T3 and T4. The short term looks promising with such investment there are additional bed nights. The only question is, will this continue? Under the coalition, government plans for a third runway have been scrapped and if this does not change we may face oversupply.
Hotel-industry.co.uk: What is your strategy moving forwards?
Watson: The hotel boasts fantastic views of the northern runway and we have sizeable conference and banqueting facilities – two features that set us apart from our competitors. Utilising these, coupled with friendly and professional customer service, will ensure we deliver our expected returns to all stakeholders of the business.
Paul Watson’s top three pieces of advice for hoteliers:
- Change one thing every day to improve the hotel product.
- Encourage the team’s individual personalities to shine – genuine warmth is felt.
- Deliver what has been promised and more.