Michael Shaw, GM of Ramada Hotel Coventry, speaks to hotel-industry.co.uk about leading a regional city centre hotel through the recession.
Meet the GM:
- Name: Michael Shaw
- Property:Ramada Hotel and Suites, Coventry City Centre
- Number of rooms: 166 (including 44 long-stay suites)
Hotel-industry.co.uk: How did you begin your career as a hotelier?
Shaw: I always wanted a career within the hospitality industry, although I originally started in the arts and media sector. Like many students, whilst at university I had a part-time job, and worked in a 3-star hotel as a breakfast chef and waiter. When I graduated I started working at the hotel full time, quickly progressing up the ladder. I have now been in the industry for 12 years and have not looked back.
In this time I have had the opportunity to work nationally and internationally in operations support and as a Hotel General Manager within several key markets in the UK including Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham and London.
Hotel-industry.co.uk: How would you describe your style of management?
Shaw: It is my strong belief that to be a good leader you have to lead from the front and strive to deliver service excellence in all aspects of the hotel operation. I make a point of talking to all of my team every day, both at a personal level and as an informal way of pushing their professional development. As a result they have become more motivated, and feel like a valued part of the business. I aim to push them to challenge the status quo, and to retain their focus on what really matters for our clients.
The success of a hotel is based on the people that bring life to the property – my team and my guests.
Hotel-industry.co.uk: What achievements are you most proud of at your current property?
Shaw: I was very lucky when I started at Ramada Hotel and Suites Coventry City Centre, as a real abundance of innovation and talent within my team was there and just needed to be nurtured. Developing my team and improving staff retention at the hotel has been a real achievement.
Beyond this, our customer feedback scores are improving month on month, which is a testament to the hard work of the team. It also shows the value of listening carefully to the customer and using their comments to improve certain areas of the business.
Hotel-industry.co.uk: What keeps you awake at night?
Shaw: I find myself questioning how we can improve on our services and guarantee maximum customer retention and loyalty, how we can ensure that we are staying ahead of market trends and really delivering a hotel and company that is profitable and exceeding expected results. Beyond this I look at how am I, as a manager, keeping my team focused on these challenges. The idea that pops in your head at 2.30 in the morning might just be the one idea that really creates change and market impact.
Hotel-industry.co.uk: How is the market changing in your sector and region?
Shaw: The economic downturn was felt quite severely within Coventry and across the West Midlands region, which historically has had a robust manufacturing and industrial heritage. Coalition government cutbacks have also left their mark on our city.
Ramada Hotel and Suites Coventry City Centre has stayed ahead of its neighbouring competitors thanks to the strength of our commercial relationships and our uncompromising approach to quality and service. Working as a franchised hotel under the Wyndham Hotel Group umbrella has also given us far greater flexibility to adapt the business model to respond to external changes. The team and I are now in a strong position to continue to develop the business and yield benefits as the region is beginning to move out of recession. There are encouraging inward investment plans in Coventry, and new structural developments being confirmed. It is also one of six cities outside London to be an official Olympic site so will play a key part in the preparation and delivery of the games, which is a really positive sign for the local economy.
Hotel-industry.co.uk: What is your strategy moving forwards?
Shaw: The hotel has a strong city centre location, with excellent facilities and uncompromised views of Coventry and Warwickshire. Our focus for the hotel over the next two years will be to continue to invest in the overall infrastructure of the property to ensure that our guest’s satisfaction is second to none, and to position the property as the hotel of choice in Coventry.
We have also embraced green technologies in recent months and are working with the local community and wider business sector to drive down our carbon emissions and total energy usage. With this in mind we will continue to listen to our customers and invest in new technologies and services that add value to the overall customer experience and journey.
Michael Shaw’s top three pieces of advice for hoteliers:
- Lead from the front and embrace innovation and change.
- Breathe easy and think how you personally can make a difference. Your business will only grow with the confidence you have in your team and product.
- Challenge yourself to really drive your hotel REVPAR, focus on the market and trends and utilise all of the industry benchmark tools you have available to drive your business forward and increase profitability.