Whitbread Hotels aim to surprise and delight guests with their service, but there is an equally surprising emphasis given to treating staff well in an industry where this is not the norm.
Workers such as Anna Dowling have been encouraged to develop. Seventeen years ago she began working as a chambermaid at the Marriott in Slough. Now she is 36 and general manager of the County Hall hotel in central London. You don't have to be academically brilliant to progress here, just motivated and hard working she said.
Whitbread Hotels are strong on egalitarianism. Although basic salaries are low and hours are long, in line with industry norms, everyone is given free shares after three years of service, bonuses if the hotels hit targets and free weekend breaks.
The company was founded in 1991 and in 1996 took the UK franchise for Marriott. Jason Tate, executive soups chef at County Hall said 'I am taking my girlfriend to Amsterdam for £25 a night and we both enjoy the 20% discount on brands such as Beefeater'. There is a training budget of £350 per employee and a fast track graduate programme. During staff appreciation week, staff have fancy dress parades, quizzes and fun days for charity. There are regular gatherings after work and 85% of staff praise the firm's family feeling.
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