A Warm Welcome
As part of our focus on Customer Centricity, beginning in late 2018 the Hydrofinity Marketing team has been spending more time directly connecting with our customers. Rather than focusing only on reaching potential new customers, we are dedicated to improving the customer experience right the way through the Hydrofinity journey - from pre-sales to installation and beyond.
As such, we recently spent a couple of days visiting some of our newest customers, and whilst we don't normally write about these visits, this one was so special we felt we should.
The first point of note was the welcome when walking through the front door - the entrance lobby is expansive, flooded with light and even delicately scented. At the reception desk we were asked to take a seat to wait for Ron Vos, the well-known General Manager of the hotel. We had barely seated ourselves opposite when Ron was there to introduce himself and welcome us to the hotel. Within a couple of minutes he had gathered multiple leaders from across the hotel - covering marketing, housekeeping, operations and engineering.
All staff - not just those senior managers meeting with us, but every single person we passed as we toured the property was warm, courteous & welcoming - so much so we felt like VIPs!
Sustainability in Hospitality
We sat around one of the bar tables in the hotel lobby and, once introductions were complete, we spoke about the Hydrofinity machine recently installed - we were pleased to hear that both the housekeeping and laundry teams had been highly impressed by how well the system is performing.
In fact, the team are already increasing the percentage of hotel linens being washed in the Hydrofinity machine, thanks to the results they are seeing - including great performance, reliability and monthly savings of £953 costs, 75,880 litres of water & 3,110kWh of electricity. (That means a million litres of water will be saved each year with just one Hydrofinity machine!)
Mr Vos is an inspirational leader, and his management team clearly adore him. He is dedicated to sustainability, to community interaction, to staff development and to supporting the ideas and creativity of his team. He spoke passionately about the various measures implemented through the hotel to reduce their environmental footprint - including small but important details such as in-room & meeting room water now being provided in reusable glass bottles, rather than plastic, and all meeting rooms having wipe clean write-on walls instead of paper flip charts.
But the London Heathrow Marriott has also implemented other intensive sustainability measures including:
- A tailored car park LED lighting system from Gemma Lighting, which saves 17 tonnes of carbon annually and reduces energy consumption by 69%. This energy-saving solution reduces cost by over £7,500 per year.
- A VITO oil filtration system which halves the amount of cooking oil consumed and reduces labour costs - together reducing costs by over £5,000 per year. Additional benefits include the serving of a cleaner, healthier fried product to customers and helping the environment through less waste, packaging, transport and storage.
- The Granuldisk pot and pan washing system, which has reduced consumption of water by 91%, energy by 93.9% and chemicals by 91.9%. This saves more than 2 million litres of water each year, improves staff working conditions and ensures a better organised workflow. The system has also reduced costs by over £17,000.
- Two electric car charging stations
From the Rooftop Down...
We were taken up onto the roof via a series of 'back of house' corridors which feature multiple noticeboards proudly displaying information about the hotel's various projects and incentives relating to sustainability, community support and team bonding.
On the rooftop, with vast expansive views around the surrounding area - including into where numerous aircraft were parked up at the neighbouring Heathrow Airport - we found a small renewable energy setup. A wind turbine and solar panels power the hotel's illuminated rooftop 'Marriott' sign - a first for the chain.
We were also shown the greenhouse which grows herbs and more for the wonderful hotel kitchen. Even here sustainability was key - all the planters had been made from re-purposed plastic water bottles, as were the hanging pots, and a water butt keeps the plants well-fed via rainwater harvesting.
GM Ron and his team are really looking closely at every individual element of the hotel business, and this is seen consistently throughout the property - not just related to sustainability, but also interior design, customer experience and community integration.
Eat: A Unique Kitchen Experience
A little off-topic maybe, but we were also shown to the kitchen and felt we simply had to mention the wonderful new Chef's Market Experience. We'll use the hotel's own words to describe this unique area:
"Taking inspiration from the markets of London, we’ve created a tasty culinary guest experience in the hotel’s main kitchen. The market place atmosphere highlights our use of fresh produce and local ingredients and sets the scene perfectly for specially invited guests to see the chefs at work while being served a delicious menu."
What they modestly don't mention is the stunning interior design, integrated Sonos sound system, mood lightning, viewing hatch right into the kitchen and TV screen showing areas of the kitchen not visible through the hatch. The Head Chef has a big personality but without a trace of the arrogance that often seems to go with the job!
Sleep: Room for Comfort
We were also taken to see one of the recently renovated bedrooms, with its expertly made bed and immaculately clean bathroom, and chatted a little about the hotel's typical clientele - predominantly but not exclusively business travellers.
Here we noted the Marriott scheme to award Rewards points in exchange for guests choosing to move to a less frequent housekeeping service - another push for sustainability and a great way to get guests to play a part over and above the standard 'leave your towels on the rails if you don't need them changing'.
Meet: Spacious, Modern and Versatile
We were blown away by the conference area at the Heathrow Marriott. For full details of their facilities, you can visit their event planning pages, but suffice to say this area was expansive (1,800sq metres), well lit, stunning to look at, highly versatile and incredibly well equipped.
We liked again seeing that attention to detail noted above, shown here in details such as the carpet - which is actually an aerial shot of Heathrow airport through the clouds - and small booth-style hubs which are perfect for breaking out of larger meetings and events, stocked with plenty of electricity points for device charging.
The airport theme ran throughout, with rooms named after famous aviators and departure board-style monitors showing what was happening in each.
The bar area was somewhere you would happily spend an entire evening, never mind take breaks from conferences or training sessions, and from what we saw, the catering looked top notch.
All in all, those of us in the marketing team have spent many a long day in dull, badly lit, uncomfortable meeting spaces in hotels around the world, and this was something entirely different - somewhere we would happily work day in, day out.
An Inspirational Visit
Hopefully, you can see why we were inspired to write about our visit to the London Heathrow Marriott to meet Ron and his team. Each department is working incredibly hard to ensure the guest experience is top-notch and to make sure the impact the hotel has on the local area is overwhelmingly positive.
We can see why this Marriott has been widely recognised as a sustainability leader, including winning the Green Hotelier Award for Europe in 2016, achieving GreenLeaders Platinum status in 2015 and reaching Green Tourism for London gold status. We are proud to add the unique Hydrofinity system to the list of sustainability initiatives at the hotel and look forward to monitoring the results throughout 2019 and beyond.
If you're likely to be in need of a hotel or event venue in the area in the coming year, we highly recommend you look at the London Heathrow Marriott - and let us know how it goes! We'll certainly be back for a follow-up visit soon.
(Ron is kindly allowing us to do some filming on site in the near future, so watch this space for more on the results we're achieving and how we're doing it).