Wednesday 21 March 2018

'No-hierarchy' hotel generates massive results

Johnny O'Sullivan, general manager of the Sheraton Athlone, with some of his staff members
Johnny O'Sullivan, general manager of the Sheraton Athlone, with some of his staff members

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

A FAMILY-run hotel group generated an extra €500,000 after asking workers to come up with ideas to boost revenue in the recession.

Everyone from kitchen porters to company directors at Hodson Bay, the Sheraton Athlone and the Galway Bay hotels is now involved in the plan to fight the effects of the economic downturn.

The venture makes staff at the hotels feel like there is "no hierarchy" and they are invited to present their ideas at board meetings every eight weeks.

It also means foreign staff can bring their multi-cultural experience to the Irish hospitality industry.

"We have tai chi in our roof-top garden in the Sheraton in Athlone," said Hodson Bay group director Johnny O'Sullivan.

Mr O'Sullivan worked as a porter and barman in his family's business since his early teens. "I knew the potential of fellow workers. They know what our customers want because they're constantly interacting with them."

The hotels, in association with Independent Newspapers, invited Westmeath firms and community groups to a business event at the Sheraton Athlone last week. The conference was addressed by Independent Group Business Editor Brendan Keenan, who told guests that increasing taxes was necessary on the road to economic recovery.

Stephen Cox (27), from Enniskillen, Co Monaghan, said the concept was "excellent" for a hotel in a recession time. The front-of-house worker said he tried to be "a step ahead of the guests all the time".

Another young woman, Aileen Kelly from Roscommon, said she returned from travelling in March to a country in economic crisis.

However, she had previously worked in the Hodson Bay so she got a job with the Sheraton.

"We're part of the day-to-day running of the business now. We're aware of customers' needs and we're looking to exceed their expectations," she said.

Aileen's team came up with ideas for the Sheraton's Harvest Cafe which included allowing customers to "take the Harvest home" by offering a take-out service.

Irish Independent

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