The Zhou family are Chinese Nationals. Mrs. Zhou owns and directs a portfolio of 5 star hotels across the world. Mr. Zhou is a wine specialist and a famous chef which has inspired their other investments which include a chain of high street restaurants that are famous in the UK for their fusion kitchen. They have three children aged 2, 5 and 7 and are expecting number 4. They often travel to the UK flying business or first class with any of the STAR alliance airlines. They then stay in their London Flagship hotel before commuting to their Paris hotel. When in Paris they sometimes visit Disneyland. When they travel their full time secretary, their nanny/teacher, their driver and their housekeeper travel with them.
On their last visit to the UK, Mrs. Zhou met with Nick Varney who is the CEO of Merlin Entertainment to discuss an investment opportunity. During the meeting, Mr. Varney mentioned that each year on Guy Fawkes Night, one of their theme parks – Alton Towers – hosts the largest firework display in all of the UK and that tickets are usually sold out 6 months in advance with full occupancy rates in the hotels.
On the 2nd November the family find themselves yet again in London. It has been less than a month since their last visit and Mr. and Mrs. Zhou are keen to include some quality family time with the children. Mrs. Zhou asks the secretary to see if they can book tickets to Alton Towers for 3rd November and to stay in the CBEEBIES Land Hotel and then see the fireworks on 4th November. Mrs. Zhou is keen to make a comparison with Disneyland Paris. She has decided to not inform the CEO of her planned visit.
Even though it is less than 48 hours before the big fireworks, the secretary manages to book them a room at the desired hotel. It is however the last room which means that the staff members of the family need to stay at the Radisson, East Midlands Airport. This – the CBEEBIES receptionist assures them – is less than 30 minutes away.
On the night of arrival everything goes smooth. The driver drops them off at the hotel and then drives back to the Radisson. Mr. Zhou checks the family in. Mrs. Zhou and the children are tired after a 4 hour drive from London but also keen to see the shows the hotel has set up for them. As Mr. Zhou is still checking in (there is quite the queue at 5.30pm), Mrs. Zhou settles the children in the entertainment area and walks to the bar to get drinks for the family. She has to wait a while to be served. When she is served she is told that they do not have bottled still water suitable for children. Children can either have squash bottles, tap water or have to drink from a glass bottle. Mrs. Zhou decides to order the glass bottle and asks for glasses with straws. She orders herself a decaffeinated coffee and her husband a bottle of beer. The barmaid puts the drinks on the counter. Mrs. Zhou asks if she can help with carrying the drinks to the table. The barmaid gives her a tray and says: “Sorry, we haven’t got enough staff to do that”. At this point Mr. Zhou has joined his wife and helps carry the drinks. He then needs to return to get the lid taken off his beer bottle and to get a glass for himself. As he walks off, the barmaid shouts after him: “Oi, we need to settle the bill now!”. Mr. Zhou replies to add the bill to the room. The Barmaid checks his room number and says no account has been set up. Mr. Zhou is surprised as he wasn’t asked at reception and assumed it was automatically set up. He then tries to pay with American Express which is not accepted so eventually settles the bill in cash.
The children have a great time watching the entertainment. Eventually the family decide to go for dinner in the hotels only restaurant at 8.30pm. When they get to the restaurant they are told that the restaurant serves until 9pm and is now full. The family ask if they can order of the menu and eat in the bar but this is not possible. They do have the option to eat in their room. The family are not happy but agree to go to the room. The kids love the room and the theme however there is little space to eat, considering their luggage and number of family members. The family order from the room service menu and then take their plates to the bar where they eat.
The following morning the family has breakfast at the restaurant at 8am. They have been told that hotel guest can catch a monorail to the park and get entry 1 hour before any day guests. Mr. Zhou asks the breakfast waitress if they can get a FASTPASS like in Disney to get access to the rides faster. The waitress is not sure. As the waitress does not take the initiative to find out, the family ask at reception who tell them they have to buy the fast pass in the park, they can’t buy them in the hotel. The family ask how far the walk to the monorail is as Mrs. Zhou is 7 months pregnant and, although she knows she will be on her feet a lot that day, prefers to get a buggy car if one is available. Alton Towers do not do buggy cars, they are told and they are not offered an alternative. The family take 30 minutes to walk to the monorail with pregnant Mrs. Zhou and their 2 year old not walking very fast. When they arrive they find out they have to queue for 40 minutes to get on the monorail. When they finally make it to the park they join the line for “hotel guests”. When they get to the front they show their hotel passes. The ticket staff member asks them for their printed ticket with the bar code. The family are confused. When they have stayed in Disney in the past, their hotel room key was also programmed for the barriers of the parks. Is this not the case here? Mr. Zhou points at his card that has the words “The Key To Your Stay” printed on it. He was also not told about the need for separate tickets for park entrance by the receptionist at the hotel. The ticket staff member says that at the least he has to see the booking email. The family are asked to leave the queue and have to call their secretary who needs to email them the tickets. When they have the email they go back to the same ticket person but are asked to join the queue at the end. Mrs. Zhou and the toddler really need the bathroom.
The remainder of the day is OK. The queues for each ride are 1hour plus. Fast track passes are available however the queue to buy them is also one hour. In addition it turns out that the 2 year old can only go in 3 rides in all of the park because of his length and the 5 year old is also restricted to many rides. This means that Mrs. Zhou is spending a lot of time sitting in the cold with two kids who are not happy. The park has many catering facilities but only 2 restaurants within indoor seating. Mr. Zhou’s mobile is low on battery and there is no charging point anywhere in the park which makes it even more difficult for the family to separate. The fireworks are spectacular and the family enjoy them. What they did not expect is that at the end they have to queue up 3 hours to board the monorail. Mrs. Zhou asks to speak to an operational manager as she needs to sit down. An hour passes before a duty manager arrives. The family asks if their driver can pick them up from the park entrance but they are told they can either walk to the nearest car park or take the monorail back to the hotel.
Mr. Zhou has had enough and calls his driver. Unfortunately the roads to Alton Towers are small and narrow and with 32 0000 guests exiting at the same time it takes the driver more than an hour to reach the park and then 2 hours to get back to the motor way.
Mrs. Zhou is trying to decide if should put an essay on Trip Advisor or put in a call to Mr. Varney the following day.
Alton Towers has been open for 37 years however the last 10 years have seen significant change in how it is run. Traditionally catering to the day guest, the hotel now has 3 different types of accommodation; allowing guest from all over the country – and the world – to stay for 1 or more nights.
In the summer of 2017 the CBEEBIESLand Hotel opened. It has seen full occupancy rates every day.
The park and accommodation closed at the end of the summer however re-opens during key events of the year like Halloween, Guy Fawkes Night and Christmas.
Most of the employees are on seasonal contracts which means they work during the summer months. They attend a corporate induction day and receive on the job training. They have access to an online learning environment and receive minimum wage. In addition they receive free unlimited access to the park that they work for themselves and 3 members off their family. Many of the seasonal workers return because of this benefit and because it suits their study hours. They usually either in Food and Beverage or as a park operator, which means they get rotated between jobs in the park.
Hotel employees are also on seasonal contracts with the same terms and benefits. After the successful opening of the CBEEBIESland Hotel, the General Manager thought most employees would return to work on the key weekends they were briefed on during their initial recruitment early summer.
However during the Halloween half-term, only 35% of the original employees returned. Many had moved on to other local hotels or relocated to different parts in the country/ world. Many guest complained about things the staff felt was out of their control. They reported this to their line managers but no action was taken. Guest complained on trip advisor, even naming some staff members, but management did not take action. De-briefs or feedback with staff members did not take place.
On 3rd November only 15% of the original employees returned. For the Guy Fawkes weekend, the General Manager had to recruit 50% of its operational staff via the GIG platform and another 35% via local employment agencies. There was little time to train them.
Discuss what the organisation could have done within the HR life cycle to prevent the customer complaints (300 words, excluding references)
When doing so, you could consider if the resort could have recruited contractual staff from, for example, the Birmingham College of Food (Birmingham University) by bringing them over via a coach and then giving them accommodation. OR could they have recruited their initial staff in different way? Could they have planned their training for the GiG and agency staff better? What could they have done from a performance management perspective? What does the literature say?