My Involvement:

  • User and Guest research and interviews
  • Identify target market.
  • Persona Creation based on average guest and needs
  • Defining the policies’ purposes
  • Documentation
  • Procedure Testing
  • Feedback analyses documentation and iterations
  • Procedure Auditing

Tools & Skills:

  • Design Thinking
  • Departmental Management
  • Microsoft Office
  • Interviewing & Investigation
  • Research
  • Documentation
  • Training

TAJ HOTELS

 Guest Experience Design using User Centred Design Principles.

To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I have omitted and obfuscated confidential information in this case study. All information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of my client.

During the latter part of 2015 until January 2019 I developed my skills to a new level in a non-traditional (non-software) UX Design way and gained experience money can’t buy by designing and developing guest experience as part of the Security department for a renowned international luxury Hotel brand in London.

I further developed my research, investigation, interviewing, user flow, testing and iterations skills when I accepted the challenge of being the Director of Security, a strategic role focussing on creating robust procedures using my knowledge of User Centred Design Principles to keep guests, staff and their belongings safe as well as safeguarding the assets of the hotel by implementing procedures and processes which were to be followed. I had a team of Security Officers working for me ensuring that the procedures were tested, reported on short comings if any, where iterations would then be made.

I found this experience to be one of my greatest professional challenges as I had never before come across users more demanding and service aware than hotel guests, especially those who pay a premium to stay in one of the top 10 hotels in London, 51 Buckingham Gate, a Taj Hotel, who expect top non-intrusive service and sense of security.

Due to the seriousness of the subject matter and potential negative consequences should procedures fail I focused on user empathy balanced with corporate and legislative requirements. I did this by focusing on fact-based information gained through guest and staff interviews, research of complaints, existing documentation and an open mind to discovery of all potential scenarios and create contingency plans. By doing so I was able to create user process flows and turn them in to documented Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). These SOPs were then shared with all departments and training was provided.

I self-studied all aspects of not only Hotel Security but also the all other operational departments to ensure I had the required knowledge. I also obtained an IOSH certification in Health and Safety as well as Advanced First Aid to understand legal requirements and best practices within the industry.

I conducted hundreds of interviews with guests, staff, law enforcement through the course of my time at the hotel to understand how incidents, accident, complaints, criminal activities and staff misconduct occurred and to introduce counter measures to minimise or stop these from occurring again.

All guests are equal but some are more equal than others
Heads of State Visits: 

I created seamless successful procedures for numerous State Visits by Heads of States all custom to requirements of security services concerned and UK Special Branch to be followed by all hotel staff in conjunction with law enforcement, private security, embassy personnel. 

In conjunction with this I also conducted research into Security Practices, Counter Terror measures, Loss Prevention, Crisis Management, Business Continuity Planning and H&S.

I involved as many members of Heads of Departments, staff and Management to participate in collaborating by them providing me with feedback, suggestions and possible stumbling blocks and intelligence.

OVERALL OUTCOME

In 24 months the internal and external audit scores for Security and Health and Safety under my responsibility increased from the mid 50% to the mid 90%.

All audits included Procedures for Safety and Security.

During my time at the organisation

  • I designed, developed and introduced over 50 successfully implemented and functioning Standard Operating Procedures using user centred design approach.
  • Investigated and documented hundreds of incidents, accidents and complaints using interviewing and research as my main tools.
  • Successfully planned and implemented strategies for Heads of State Visits, Celebrity Visits and Sporting Team visits with the VIP and regular guest needs at the heart of planning.

CASE STUDY

Due to this being a flow which does not compromise the security of the business I have decided to include the Lost Property Procedure

RESEARCH

Guest

Guests who stay in hotels sometimes leave property behind. These could be Valuable property valued at over a certain amount or property of lesser value. The goal of this procedure is to ensure that there is a robust system in place to ensure the safe storage and return of the property to the guest.

Internal Stakeholders

The organisation and the senior management are the internal stakeholders. Due to the nature of digital feedback where negative experiences are broadcasted over digital media there is a possibility of negative feedback which results in reputational damage.

The company wishes to limit these complaints and negative impact by insisting that robust safe storage procedures are in place which has a clear paper trail in order to investigate where the system broke down in order to investigate and iterate the process.

Areas to explore whist doing research include:

  • Research old and current documented complaints.
  • Interviewing guests with current complaints to establish where the system broke down.
  • Interview colleagues from Housekeeping, Front Office and Hotel Management in order to understand current procedure and a pattern in the content of the complaints.
  • Review current procedure as well as existing documentation.
  • Investigate how other hotels handle Lost Property 

User Interviews revealed: 

 

Shared Pain Points

 

  • It became apparent that Lost Property were not documented clearly with guest names, room numbers and dates.
  • Investigations and interviews revealed that there were no dedicated staff dealing with Lost Property and no clear communication regarding guest feedback.
  • Guests who requested return of lost property sometimes never received it as the property went missing or were discarded after retention time due to it not being separated and no clear communication.
  • No audit process in place in order to monitor successes and failures
  • No access control of storage area.

“I contacted the hotel to ask them to keep my property safe
until my next visit. When I returned with my family
I was told that my property had been destroyed
and that there was no record of me calling” –
Mrs Alexander

“There was no handover to let me know that the guest
requested us to keep the items.” – Housekeeper
 

“Everybody has access to the storage area and there are no
records of which items were discarded when”
– Housekeeping 
coordinator

“it is embarrassing when a guest makes a complaint that we have
been asked to safeguard their property and I have to contact
them after a negative review to find out that our procedures are lacking.”Hotel Manager 

 

PROCESS FEATURE PRIORITISATION

Reflection 


Access Control and permissions
An electronic access control lock to be fitted on the storage door which can provide access history log. Only Housekeeping Floor Supervisor staff to be issued with access cards – non transferrable. 

Documentation
All items found to be clearly documented and photographed. These to be uploaded to Knowcross Housekeeping digital platform for review and evidence.

Separation of property
Area to be provided to store items which are to be returned to guests. System to be put in place to send items to guests who request the service.

Retention of property
Guide to be developed indicating retention periods of item categories. General Lost property retention to be increased from 1 month to 3 months. Valuable Lost Property items retention to be increased from 6 months to 12 months to cater for guests realising items might have been left at hotel after a longer period.

PROCEDURE FLOWS

Lost Property Procedure for Non-Valuable Property

Lost Property Procedure for Non-Valuable Property

Property Returns Procedure

Lost Property Retention Guide

POST USABILITY TEST REFLECTIONS

Plus Points

  • Access control to storage are prevents unauthorised entry. Welcomed by Senior Housekeepers
  • Clear descriptions of items
  • Clear auditable documentation stored on electronic database.
  • Better communication from staff to guests and staff to management – email trail.
  • Clear auditable documentation stored on electronic database.

Pain Points

  • Increased work load on all departments – Unavoidable

OUTCOME

  • An 85% decrease in complaints
  • All property in custody accounted for
  • Increase in positive guest feedback on TrustYou and Trip Advisor platforms as well as positive email correspondence from guests.

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to view this case study.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss my work, skills or if you would like to discuss potential employment.

THE END