In Search of Hotel Excellence: Crown Towers Melbourne

During a brisk tour of the Land Down Under, I found myself in the Australia’s Second City – the begrudging nickname belonging to none other than Melbourne, a metropolis that’s in a near perpetual rival with Sydney. While conducting travel research for downtown hotels, it’s all but impossible to avoid hearing or clicking on one of the many Crown Resorts properties in the greater Melbourne area.

As an entertainment and gaming corporation that is characteristically Australian, it was an easy choice to decide to stay in the heart of the action with a local hospitality provider. That choice was the Crown Towers, a five-star property with over 480 rooms. Needless as it is to say, the experience floored me and left a fantastic first impression on a city that I must now visit again.

Shaun-DCruz-As is customary, I sought out the upper echelons of the hotel’s management to delve into the secrets of their success. To this end, I sat down with the general manager, Shaun d’Cruz.

How do you maintain the high level of service quality?
Simple: setting clear service expectations and standards. We review these standards on a regular basis to ensure all the practical elements of our business are aligned. We conduct regular training for our team, which covers every aspect and ensures we run as a cohesive team. In recognition of our wonderful staff, we have a formal recognition program where we identify and reward those who have excelled in certain areas with awards like Service Leader and People Leader.

How do you keep your staff for such a long time?
We’ve implemented a range of incentive programs that help to ensure staff members feel appreciated and motivated, including a staff cafeteria with access to nutritious meals, a dedicated onsite staff gym, access to the Crown Social Club and discounted staff parking. All staff members have a review every six months where we identify opportunities for growth depending on their personal goals. We work with each staff member to make the most of their individual abilities and to look closely at succession planning.

We also have strong programs in place for staff development. For example, we have a Leadership Development Program, designed specifically for high potential team members, as well as the Next Generation of Leaders, implemented for supervisors or assistant managers who are keen to set themselves up for a management role. Lastly, we conduct benchmark studies of the hospitality industry to ensure our team members are well remunerated for their contribution.

Do you get a lot of guests who stay at multiple Crown properties?
Yes. We have guests who stay with us here in Melbourne and also at our sister hotels at Crown Perth. We have loyalty programs including Signature Club in Melbourne and Crown Club in Perth to reward our regular guests for their patronage. We also have a Milestone Stay Program where guests receive added benefits once they reach a certain numbers of visits.

Crown-Spa-Male-Vitality-Pool-AWhat advice would you give other hotel operators in terms of how to get such exceptional performance from your team?
Listen to your guests and listen to your team. There is a lot to be gained by encouraging a culture of open communication and constant feedback. Ensure all team members are clear on what the service expectations are to encourage a seamless service. As well, plan to succeed. Ensure goals are set and that all responsible team members are well-versed on what the plan is. Finally, focus on the positives and celebrate success as often as possible.

Housekeeping was flawless in my opinion. What’s your secret?
We pride ourselves on being innovative and are constantly looking at new ways to enhance the in-room experience for our guests. We have a robust room audit process and our housekeeping operations manager, rooms division manager and I conduct random, weekly inspections on rooms to ensure the service is consistent. Any areas that require attention are passed onto the team immediately via the supervisory group. Perhaps most important, is our quality, year-round training and support programs, designed specifically for our housekeeping staff.

Let’s end with F&B. What makes yours great?
Within a complex that has over 20 restaurants, ten bars and multiple nightclubs, flawless cuisine means designing creative menus for each restaurant and delivering superb service throughout via incredible staff. Our motto at Crown is to hire for attitude and train for skill. Each new staff member at Crown takes part in a four day induction which we believe is critical to our business. It means that right from the very beginning of his or her employment, each staff member has a complete understanding of the operation.

Before we implement new menus into any of our venues, we undertake extensive sales analysis, consider seasonality, seek customer feedback and assess costings. Our finger is always on the pulse of both the local and the international dining scene, ensuring that the cuisine offerings are innovative, diverse and leaders within the market. Staff tastings and presentation sessions are held before new menus are implemented. This process is imperative and ensures that all staff members are completely familiar with the changes and their feedback taken into consideration before we introduce the changes.

(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, published in eHotelier on November 30, 2015)