Speaking to BigHospitality as part of our Spotlight on Service series, Rixon, who is responsible for gathering guest feedback from the group’s 48 hotels, reminds front-of-house staff that service is ‘a meeting, not a transaction’.
“It’s a conversation between two people and when it’s done right, it’s effortless and elegant,” she said.
“Service in any environment should be seamless and something that isn’t forced. It is about that meeting of people. When you walk out of our hotels I want you to remember Lucy who was fantastic and Paul who was great. The fact that your tea was hot and dinner was delicious should be the second thing you talk about. The people should be what you remember.”
Each week Rixon reviews 1,500 pieces of feedback given by guests staying at Macdonald Hotels. Feedback will be gathered from a variety of sources, from email feedback to social media channels to briefings from managers, but wherever it is taken from it is looked at and taken seriously.
“At Macdonald Hotels, feedback is a board discussion,” said Rixon.
“Technology scoops the data and collects and collates it and starts to identify themes and trends. I do a manual process first and run reports afterwards, to make sure that my thinking is right and what I’m feeling and hearing actually stacks up in the detail, but then I will submit report to the board on a monthly basis that identifies trends and themes.
"So recognising good service works from the top of the organisation."
Rixon, who founded the De Vere Academy of Hospitality, also believes strongly that while good service should appear seamless, those who are working hard to make it look seamless should be recognised.
Macdonald Hotels currently runs an internal awards scheme and has just implemented a new system called Talent Toolbox, which is designed to develop staff.
"We issue awards every month to staff who have been nominated by guests or colleagues. We've given out 800 awards in the last three months and it's really motivational," she said.
"The Talent Toolbox is also helping us to identify key talents. From an employee perspective we can see improvements and can track those people who are consistently delivering excellent service."
Rixon said since Talent Toolbox had been implemented the number of awards being given to high-performing staff had been rising each month.
"This is not only helping up see improvements with staff retention but most importantly we’ve seen improvements in our guest experience and that is only a good thing," she said.