RHW Management Inc. manages more than 600 employees and nearly 2,000 guest rooms across 19 hotels consisting of five different Marriott brands, Intercontinental Hotels, Hyatt, and Hilton properties. One of the biggest problems for any hotel property is communication between departments, and for owners of multiple properties, effective communication across their portfolio is next to impossible.
David Montero, the current Director of Operations at RHW, set out in search of a more robust internal communication and engagement solution. One that could manage the complexity of communicating with frontline employees across multiple properties within one intuitive interface. He was also looking for ways to increase engagement and enhance corporate culture. After all, happy employees = happy guests.
Do any of these challenges sound familiar? If so, read on for RHW’s journey to improve internal communications and operations, all while giving employees a voice in the organization with their team communication app.
History of RHW
RHW originated during the oil boom of the late 1970’s as a small oil company. By 1983, RHW Development, Inc., was formed to develop apartment complexes. While formulating their business plan, they discovered Brock Residence Inns and decided this new hotel concept that targeted extended-stay travelers would make a better investment than apartments.
After the success of building their first hotel, they redirected their focus from real estate investing to building a hotel company. They quickly made that hotel a financial and operational success, positioning themselves as one of the first franchisees of a brand that later became the Residence Inn by Marriott. As the company grew, they divided it into two different entities: RHW Development, Inc. (to develop hotels) and RHW Management, Inc. (to manage hotels).
Identifying Challenges and Finding a Solution
Fast forward to 2016. Business was booming for RHW, but David knew there had to be a more efficient way to communicate with his frontline staff than using bulletin boards and the hardbound red book at the front desk.
The properties faced many communication challenges. Trusting that messages were clearly communicated at the property level was a struggle— regardless of how fantastic their general managers were. Many times, information shared with one shift wasn’t shared as consistently or effectively with other shifts, and employees weren’t always alerted to a new addition on the bulletin board.
As much as David was interested in solving communication issues between properties, he was also looking for a way to make employees feel like they were involved in something bigger. (While keeping in mind employees’ reluctance to blend their personal and professional lives.)
Reinforcing and re-inventing RHW’s company culture, developing internal talent to position the business for rapid growth, and reduced turnover costs got David thinking about different ways to address employee communication in the hospitality industry. So he went in search of a digital solution.
Improved Employee Communications With a Custom Mobile App
David chose Beekeeper’s team communication app to solve these challenges. Internally, employees refer to the platform as “The Lobby.” As a white label solution, RHW was able to customize the app to reflect its own brand. For each property, David set up communication streams that covered the daily news and other happenings, including the number of arrivals and departures for the day. The streams and group chats help set daily expectations because hotel staff could check Beekeeper to see how busy the property was going to be that day.
David’s goal was to make the RHW culture come to life by instilling purpose in his team. This is where Beekeeper helped connect the entire organization and set the tone for what employees could expect when they walked into their particular property that day. Employees also know what’s happening in the upper levels of the organization through corporate announcements, as well as other property events or news. Properly setting expectations has gone a long way in making his employees feel connected and engaged.
Organizational improvements since implementing the team communication app have been remarkable. “It was incredible to see all of the personalities that came alive on The Lobby that we didn’t realize had existed before. Giving our employees a platform allowing them to have a voice has transformed our organization,” said David Montero.