To nurture loyalty as it added new locations, Constance Hotels and Resorts wanted to ensure that it could continue to deliver consistently superb luxury hospitality experiences to its guests—but how?
Constance Hotels and Resorts implemented a social business network based on IBM® Connections Cloud™, enabling it to create compelling training and mentoring programs for customer-facing employees.
Unitesgeographically distant employees on a central communication platform
Enablesmore effective knowledge-sharing, training and collaboration
Empowersemployees to deliver consistent, high-quality services to guests
Business challenge story
Fulfilling the brand promise
“Success in the luxury hospitality space is all about the ‘wow’ factor,” explains Roshan Koonja, Group Chief Information Officer at Constance Hotels and Resorts. “To build valuable, lifelong relationships with our customers, we need to deliver the highest-quality experiences every time they stay with us.”
As it prepares for further growth, nurturing customer loyalty is an ever-more important aspect of Constance Hotels and Resorts’ long-term strategy.
Roshan Koonja continues: “Our business has expanded rapidly in the last few years, and our first hotel in Mauritius is now part of a group of hotels and resorts extending across a number of islands in the Indian Ocean. Looking ahead, our goal is to grow our presence to new locations, beginning with fast-developing markets in the region.
“Our employees are our face to the customer, and to keep our brand promise consistently across all our locations, it’s essential that we give our people the right training, mentorship and resources. When we only operated a small number of hotels, it was relatively straightforward to train our new employees—but as our business grew, we realized this approach was quickly becoming unsustainable.
“We have a naturally high turnover of employees, many of whom are working with us for a year between finishing college and starting university. As we opened international hotels and resorts, we needed to fly out to the islands to deliver training sessions, which drove up our costs and reduced our operational efficiency. And with more than 19 different nationalities working at a single resort, it was difficult to optimize our training methodology to account for cultural differences.
“To communicate our core values to our employees effectively, we needed a better way to collaborate across our global organization, and we looked for a partner to help us achieve the goal.”
Sharing knowledge in the cloud
To solve its collaboration challenges, Constance Hotels and Resorts selected IBM® Connections™ Cloud and IBM Verse™.
“When you’re on an island, you’re disconnected from the world,” says Roshan Koonja. “This is a wonderful experience for our guests, but it can be a nightmare from an operations perspective! While our group marketing and finance teams work in a central location on fixed workstations, many of our customer-facing employees work on islands with very limited online access. Because our employees work in a range of different environments, it was crucial to have a solution that could accommodate those unique requirements.
“Initially, we were considering Microsoft Office 365 software, and were moving forward with a proof-of-concept exercise. However, when IBM demonstrated the IBM Connections solution, we realized we could enable employees at our headquarters and sales offices to work in the cloud, and eventually deploy on-premises environments to support people with restricted access to the internet. Practically all of our customer-facing employees own a smartphone, and the IBM platform transforms their mobile devices into our own social business network.
“We were very impressed with the speed and stability of the IBM team’s proof-of-concept deployment for IBM Connections, and decided that the solution was the right choice to drive our future-looking people strategy. We have been an IBM Notes® customer since 2000, and by adopting IBM Connections we are maintaining our trust in IBM technology.”
He continues: “Another aspect of the IBM offering that impressed us was the IBM Verse email solution. Because Verse is powered by a cognitive computing engine, it can surface the most relevant information automatically—enabling our people to see urgent items that need their attention as soon as they log in.”
Constance Hotels and Resorts worked closely with IBM to configure and deploy its new collaboration platform.
“Working with IBM was a rewarding experience,” recalls Roshan Koonja. “As well as running demonstrations to show us what we could achieve with IBM Connections Cloud, IBM provided us with best practices for deployment and change management. We knew that driving adoption of the platform would take time, but by embracing a grass-roots approach to deployment—championed by influencers in each part of the business—we quickly started to build momentum.”
He continues: “Our decision to adopt the IBM Connections Cloud platform was more than an IT project—it marked the beginning of a wholesale transformation in our collaboration philosophy. We are now encouraging people from across the business to share their ideas using the IBM platform, and showing them that their input has a tangible, positive impact on the way the business is run.”
Building loyalty-driving customer experiences
With a social business network enabling effective collaboration across its global business, Constance Hotels and Resorts is creating highly effective training and mentoring programs for new employees.
“The vast majority of our new employees are millennials, and they are among the most active users of IBM Connections Cloud,” says Roshan Koonja. “Our new hires are interviewed in their home countries via video calls, and we wanted to enable them to get the most value out of their training by beginning the process even before they arrived to start work.
“We have now created a Connections community that provides information on where and when trainees need to check in, their induction schedule and the policies and values of the company. Better still, new employees can ask their peers directly if they are unsure about anything, and get the answers they need straight away.”
He continues: “In the past, we relied heavily on travel to run our training programs. However, because our ability to communicate was limited, there was always a risk that key people would be away by the time we arrived—reducing effectiveness and increasing our costs.
“We have now opened up a wide range of communication channels to train our people, including communities, videos, wikis and more. And because we now track vacation and medical leave in Connections, we can ensure that when we fly out to an island, all the people we need to meet with will be available. The result is that our people are better equipped than ever to deliver services that reflect our values, and keep the brand promise.”
By opening up its IBM Connections Cloud platform to people inside and outside the organization, Constance Hotels and Resorts is bringing new customer-facing services to market faster than ever.
“We often work together with consultants when we are developing a new offering,” explains Roshan Koonja. “For example, we recently engaged an external vendor to help us develop a kids’ club experience for our resorts. In the past, our consultants would have had to fly frequently between islands to coordinate multiple different stakeholder groups. This was a costly and complex process that could take as long as three months to complete.
“Thanks to IBM Connections Cloud, that’s all changed. By bringing all of the relevant people together in a single community, our consultant was able to develop best practices for the experience and build a training program for our employees in under four weeks—70 percent faster than would have been possible with the previous way of working.
“Innovation can be a powerful source of competitive differentiation, and it’s amazing to see the great ideas our people can give us when we enable them to. After launching the kids’ club, our resorts got into a friendly competition to see how many different activities they could run, and published pictures to the shared Connections community. One of our employees spontaneously started a cooking class, which was a big hit with the kids—and soon, employees at all our resorts started doing it. Examples like this are a perfect illustration of how collaboration can help unleash the hidden potential of your people.”
Looking to the future, Constance Hotels and Resorts sees that IBM Connections Cloud will help it continue to attract top talent to the business.
“Our new hires are digital natives, more used to using services such as Facebook and WhatsApp to communicate than traditional tools such as email,” says Roshan Koonja. “By embracing a cloud collaboration solution, we are in a strong position to attract the best millennial applicants.”
He concludes: “IBM Connections Cloud makes it even easier for people across our worldwide business to work together. By empowering our people to share ideas, experience and knowledge, we can keep offering the highest quality of service—even as our business grows.”
About Constance Hotels and Resorts
Established in 1975, Constance Hotels and Resorts is a group of luxury five-star hotels and resorts in the Indian Ocean. Headquartered in Mauritius, the group also operates in the Seychelles, Maldives and Madagascar, with sales offices in in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and sales representatives across numerous countries.
- Connections Cloud (SaaS)
- ESS: IBM Verse (SaaS)
- ICS: Domino
- ICS: Notes
- ICS: Sametime
- T&T: Customer Loyalty, Sales and Service
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM Connections Cloud solutions, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/software/products/en/ibm-connections-cloud