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Picture from Getty Images/Compassionate Eye Foundation/Janie Airey

'Stop the revolving door' - the answer to hospitality's woes?

Hotels are increasing turning to third party operators to boost revenues. The founders of one such firm - London Rock Partners - explain why this is more than a cost-cutting exercise.

by Caroline Bullock |

Also in: INDEPTH

There’s no sugar coating with us; we’re pretty honest about performance and what needs to be done,” admits the co-founder of hotel and asset management firm, London Rock Partners, Clare Anna.

Tasked with turning around failing venues, from handling funding and senior recruitment to the full daily management of the business, her first client visit with co-founder, Naveed Khan, can in fact, be a long overdue reality check.

“Often the team can’t understand why we’re there; particularly in a business operated by family members or a non-hospitality operator,” says the chief commercial officer.

“They think everything’s fine, but there will be a distinct lack of knowledge around revenue performance and what is really going on. The reason we’ve been called is because there is a problem to solve.”

Since London Rock Partner’s 2021 inception, a fast-growing client portfolio of chain-branded and independent properties spanning Snowdonia to London has seen the pair capitalise on a challenging time for the sector.

Reeling from a worker shortage, low occupancy rates and soaring energy and food bills post pandemic, hotels are calling on the broader insight of specialist third party operators for revenue generation ideas. A recent report from hospitality global consulting firm, HVS London, revealed a 40 per cent rise in their use among a sample of major European hoteliers, a figure expected to rise by a further 5 per cent by 2025.

A consistent approach

For chief operating officer Naveed Khan, the business’ approach is consistent across its client base, which includes Hilton and Mercure. Ultimately the holy grail of guest satisfaction and profitability is rooted in addressing the revolving door culture that has long blighted the industry.

“The minimum wage is no longer good enough. Hotels, with their traditionally long-hours culture and poor pay simply got left behind in an increasingly competitive job market after the pandemic when a lot of workers shifted to retail. This is why we pay more,” he says of a move that highlights an evolution of asset managers from their solely cost-control reputation to something more nuanced and multifaceted.

At the other end of the spectrum, is tackling the decision-by committee, micromanagement leadership culture often prevalent in underperforming hotels. A fast-paced, 24-hour industry in which complaints are common means people on the ground must have autonomy to make decisions and be comfortable reacting to the unpredictable.

“We have to inspire the leadership so there’s a culture of trust and transparency that rolls down the layers so the bar manager can be empowered to make savvy decisions from a commercial perspective,” says Khan.

“We’re given the key to someone’s hotel and with that comes a lot of trust; we treat it as our own business but it’s the general manager who is there on the ground every day; we can’t be there in person across 20 front desks.”

In the past he has been on the front line in hospitality. Struggling to find work after the 2008 credit crunch, the computer science graduate found himself on the reservation desk at the Hilton Hotel at Stansted airport. What could have been a temporary stop gap was the start of an unexpected career in hotel management spanning the globe, managing branded assets in Europe, the US and opening a safari lodge and hotel in Africa. He credits the change of direction to the influence of his manager at the time who took an interest in his personal development and gave him responsibility but also the freedom to make mistakes.


It's a similar story for Anna who fell into the sector via the sales route and benefitted from the guidance of a mentoring and forgiving boss who allowed her to hone her skills and build confidence to work through the ranks that led to senior sales roles at De Vere Venues and commercial directorship at hotel management company Michels & Taylor.

“Right at the start of my career I was very much empowered to go with my gut instinct, which I still do much of the time. We work in a high-pressure environment where there’s a lot of expectation – and you only have the ability to manage expectations if you’ve had leaders in your past who have shown you how to do that”.

Underpinned by a network including finance, spa management and restaurant specialists, the plan is to build on the organic growth of its current 11-strong portfolio but without compromising the personal touch of the offering by spreading themselves too thinly.

“We once received a call from a hotel manager on a Friday and by the following Monday we were running the entire operation, so things can move very fast, and you have to be ready to respond.”

Key management style takeaways

- Trust your instinct

- Empower others to make decisions and get on with their jobs

- Complaints are common in this industry; it’s about how you resolve them

- Eradicate blame culture - many hotels become broken because of too many people trying to cover their own backs

- Stand by leaders when they make mistakes



About London Rock Partners

London Rock Partners is a new approach to hospitality management. The network of experts who go beyond the tried and tested to deliver a standard of innovation to which the industry aspires.

Guided by their innate understanding of hospitality, they draw inspiration from the prospect of ‘what if?’ and 'what next?' to ensure consistent over delivery to clients.

London Rock Partners provides a full range of service hospitality solutions including:

· Asset Management

· Hotel Management

· Consultancy

· Senior Executive Recruitment

· Bridging & Development Loans

Media contact:

Clare Anna | Co-founder & Chief Commercial Officer

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