Case study: Radisson Blu Stansted


The Radisson Blu Stansted is a stylish hotel airport with 500 bedrooms, a health club and conference facilities.

We worked with the hotel’s three restaurant outlets for a period of five months. We experimented with new management practices that engaged the strengths of team members to improve  customer experiences and sales.

We were able to successfully and sustainably change ways of working and behaviour. The benefits of these new approaches were seen in improved team member engagement, outstanding customer feedback scores and an increase in the average cheque of up to 16%.


The challenge

The Radisson Blu Stansted is a high performing business with a strong, people focused culture. However General Manager, Neal Holloway was looking for new ideas and new approaches that could help his team get even better. 

His challenge to us: could we work with his managers to implement new ways of working that made the team even happier, improved customer experiences and sales.

Our insight

The Radisson Blu Stansted is a busy property and when we started working with the restaurants, team members were focused entirely on the demands of delivering business as usual. If there was a challenge or crisis people were quick to step up and respond, but team members didn’t have a process for suggesting new ideas or acting on operational improvements. Instead managers took on all the responsibility for trying to move the business forward. This meant they worked very hard, but progress was inconsistent because managers were easily distracted by other demands and rarely came back to review whether the changes had in fact worked.

We saw the opportunity to engage all team members in a process of continuous improvement and evidence based change. We wanted to help the outlet managers do less and manage more. We saw their role as setting clear goals, prompting new ideas from the team and guiding them to discover improvements for themselves, then celebrating and recognising progress to sustain it.

Our approach

As with all of our work, we started this project with an enquiry to help us understand the operating context and factors affecting behaviour across the three outlets. We worked shifts in each of the restaurants, observed customer interactions and talked to team members to hear their views firsthand. We also interviewed the hotel management team to understand the wider strategy and vision for the property, the brand proposition and the desired behaviours. Finally we benchmarked levels of employee engagement and other KPIs.

Having identified the factors affecting behaviour and the opportunities to improve both engagement and customer service, we designed a four month programme with two aims:

  1. to establish a system managers could use to facilitate iterative behavioural change and performance improvement in their teams
  2. to develop managers’ understanding and practical ability to influence their teams’ behaviour

We began by introducing a simple, consistent format for daily team briefing and shift de-briefing conversations. On every shift, team members were challenged to identify an opportunity for improvement, then to go and deliver it. Then the team got back together at the end of the shift to review whether the change had worked.

We also worked with the management team to create a weekly review meeting led by the Operations Director. At this meeting the outlet managers shared what they had tried, what had worked and the evidence for this, what they had learnt and what changes they would be sticking with. They also agreed the goals for the following week that would allow them to build on what was working well.

To develop managers’ capability we ran a series of one hour workshops on both the theory and practice of behaviour change. Our performance coaches also spent time observing the managers and supervisors in operation. This allowed us to provide practical, tangible feedback on things like people’s coaching style, their ability to role model and how they used things like body language, tone of voice and storytelling to influence the mood and behaviour of their teams.

Over the four months, there was a marked change towards a more positive and empowering management style across all the outlets. By the end of our project, all the participating managers felt confident that they had discovered an authentic way to influence their team’s engagement and behaviour.


During the course of the programme we were able to demonstrate the impact of the new ways of working and improved people management capability. Team member engagement improved across all three outlets. Customer service was also consistently excellent and there was a significant improvement in the average cheque in all three restaurants.

We continued to measure the impact of the approach for four months following the end of our programme and the improvements have been sustained in all three outlets. The teams have continued to experiment with new ideas and review the results to learn what works for them.

The Stansted management team are therefore confident that the new systemic approach to engaging their teams will continue to deliver sustainable, commercially orientated improvement.

What they said about us

Neal Holloway, General Manager: “What would I say about working with the Pioneers? The key thing for me is that we were investing in our supervisors and managers in the F&D outlets and encouraging them to go from good to great by being brave, trying new things, getting outside of their natural comfort zone and not being afraid to fail! The Pioneers helped facilitate this all with a natural warmth and a smile. The hard part comes now as we have to keep up all the things we have learnt and pass it onto the newest members of our team as they join the rank and file. I know that the team really enjoyed being pushed into a new way of thinking and I look forwards to seeing the results continue on an upwards trend.”

Radek Skwarski, Operations Director: “It was a great pleasure to work with The Pioneers. Their innovative and very “hands on” approach enabled both our junior managers and supervisors to get to the next level of people management capability. Nothing was too much of a trouble for them and they were able to adapt to our busy schedules at all times. They devoted time to coach our team members individually making them more comfortable to speak about their problems. Seeing the results I can only say that we have invested the money and not spent it!”