Robert Glashan is general manager at Wychwood Park Hotel & Golf Club in Crewe. Since opening his first hotel in Blairgowrie, Scotland, in 1995, Robert has gone on to work for some of Europe’s biggest hotel names including Legacy Hotels and Resorts – of which Wychwood is part of, Doubletree by Hilton and Fairmont St Andrews in a career spanning almost 30 years which makes him a bit of a hospitality industry expert.
Earlier this year, Robert brought his three decades’ worth of experience to the Cheshire hospitality industry when he joined the Wychwood Park team. He’s currently overseeing a major £3 million refurbishment programme at the hotel as part of an ambitious growth plan. The scheme’s first phase, including 38 of the hotel’s bedrooms, is now complete, with the remaining scheduled to be ready by September. As part of the plans, the hotel’s new-look restaurant and bar, atrium and other public areas will also be unveiled to guests and visitors in the autumn.
What’s the secret to your success?
My success is measured by my team’s success. For me, it’s important to build a functioning team that works well, enjoys what they do and delivers a consistently exceptional service for our customers. I’m only one of 120 colleagues at Wychwood Park and each one of us must work brilliantly.
Who in your life has influenced you most and why?
I’ve been fortunate from the very beginning of my career to have worked with and learned from some excellent managers. I’ve found the ones I learned the most from were those who were thoughtful, inspirational ‘people managers’ who knew how to bring the best out of their teams. I hope I’ve carried their lessons with me throughout my career.
What do you do for fun?
I’m quite an active person and follow most sports. In my spare time, I enjoy mountain climbing, skiing, golf and salmon fishing.
What’s the best bit of business advice you’ve been given?
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If one person doesn’t deliver exceptional service, then that’s the level we’re all seen at. Every single one of us has a part to play in helping the team.
If you could have a 1 to 1 with anyone past or present who would it be with?
His life was extraordinary. Nelson Mandela’s story took the world by storm for almost three decades and as his life unravelled the whole world stopped to watch. I think he would have been an incredibly humbling person to meet with a great, positive outlook on life.
What is the biggest challenge in your industry right now?
Keeping up with the rate of advances in technology, which is moving at an incredible pace. The hospitality industry must be quicker off the mark to adopt new novel technology that will help to make services more efficient and streamlined – or else risk being left behind.
We’re currently undergoing a £3 million refurbishment and part of this upgrade includes a new lock system for clients. Customers will be able to register via an app, go through security checks and then download their room key onto their smartphone. We’re very excited to be implementing this new seamless check-in in service to our guests.
Another piece of technology which I’m particularly interested in is the adoption of iPads and tablets to replace paper menus. Not only is it a more modern approach to restaurant service but it’s also much more economic and environmentally friendly way of cutting down wastepaper and printing costs.
Tell us about the most memorable client or customer that you have interacted with during your years in business?
I’ve met so many interesting people during my career, who have all been memorable for different reasons, that it’s hard to choose just one. I’ve met a few members of the royal family, including the Queen. Princess Anne has tried some of my homemade shortbread too!
How is Brexit affecting/going to affect your business?
It’s already affecting the hospitality industry – particularly the indecision surrounding the deal/no deal scenarios at the moment. Whatever the outcome, we just need to have a decision so that we can plan for it. As an industry, all we want is an answer – we don’t know whether to progress or place plans on hold and we need clarity from the government.
Where do you believe are the biggest opportunities right for your business and in your sector?
Driving excellence and delivering a high-quality service and standard for the price you charge – I think that’s what we should all be striving to achieve.
How do you motivate your staff?
I want to motivate and encourage all of my colleagues to be the very best they can possibly be. Boosting team morale by rewarding positive guest feedback and satisfaction ratings is one of the ways that we do this. Social media feedback which praises a team or individual is also celebrated and we offer incentives such as employee of the month and department of the quarter.
Wychwood Park regularly hosts events for our colleagues including children’s parties at Christmas and a summer BBQ.
We’d also hope that the refurbishment work is a big motivation for the team, as they see the major investment being driven into the hotel to create a new modern and bright workplace.
What do you most enjoy about running your business?
In the 30-plus years that I’ve been working, I’ve never had two days the same. There is always a new challenge or opportunity that you haven’t come across before and it keeps you on your toes and makes every day interesting!