Red Carnation Hotels was built with a vision of excellent service and a determination to provide generous hospitality. In this interview, RLI sits down with the company’s Managing Director, Jonathan Raggett, to discuss how they’ve evolved as a company and the plans in place today for growth tomorrow.
President and Founder Beatrice Tollman launched Red Carnation Hotels in 1995 with the first site, The Chesterfield Mayfair. The hotel’s collection is affectionately named after the signature flower Mrs. Tollman’s husband always wore, and today this symbol of hospitality is worn by every member of the team.
Reflecting on the past two years and all the challenges that have been thrown at brands in the hospitality industry, Jonathan Raggett, Managing Director of Red Carnation Hotels, explains that, like many other businesses, the pandemic has given the company the opportunity to reset themselves and take a look at how they did things and see where they could improve.
“I think today we need to be even more adaptable and agile than ever, and I think that’s brought the team together. We all need to work as a team and as one unit in order to provide customers with the best possible experience and for Red Carnation to continue to be successful.
Today the collection has 20 sites in the UK, Guernsey, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Botswana, Switzerland and the USA.
A brand new five-star venue will join the collection later this year in Edinburgh, at 100 Princess Street. Scheduled to launch in late summer, their first site in Scotland is an original building and its iconic features will be respectfully refurbished, transforming it into an exclusive retreat on Edinburgh’s most famous street. With stunning views of Edinburgh Castle, 100 Princes Street will replicate the boutique atmosphere of its sister property, Hotel 41, London’s best-loved hotel and TripAdvisor’s number one hotel in the capital English for over 10 years.
The most recently launched property was the Xigera Safari Lodge in Botswana, where comfort and hospitality are just part of the incredible experience on offer that reinvents the way guests experience the African bush. On site, every aspect is handcrafted to entice their guests’ senses and stir their souls – from the evocative interiors to unique wildlife encounters.
When it comes to maintaining their portfolio, Raggett explains that they have always listened to their clients and are responsive to what has been said. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel; Instead, we seek to offer the customer exactly what they want, in unique locations around the world that offer true hospitality. We offer boutique hotels that are very individual, understand who people are as customers and give them what they want from their hotel stay.
In keeping with the importance of social media in the hospitality world, Red Carnation Hotels are active on all social media platforms including TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. They employ designated people within the individual sites as well as a central team, whose job it is to create content-worthy articles showcasing the properties and their fantastic designs, architectural styles and locations.
“Sustainability is another aspect that is of utmost importance to us at the company. We have now phased out single-use plastics, we are measuring our food waste and we have great examples of green energy in our portfolio. For example, at our site in Botswana, we have our own 400KW Tesla solar plant, and then we have solar panels in place at our sites in South Africa,” says Raggett.
As a family-owned and family-run business, the CEO believes this has a huge impact on what the business does and how it is run. Internally, the company gives all employees two extra paid days off per year, and those days allow them to go and do whatever they want for a charity of their choice, to allow them to give back to something something that matters to them and feel part of something bigger. Raggett believes it’s these types of programs that help retain employees, which is reflected in the work they do at Red Carnation and the increased mental well-being and loyalty to the company that it offers employees is something that far exceeds the two days of work missed.
“We are generous with our hospitality with our employees and our guests, and maybe that’s why we have the excellent retention rate that we have. We have a repeat rate of around 65% in our portfolio which is simply unparalleled in this industry as customers appreciate and want to come back to us.
Jonathan himself has been with the company for 24 years now, and he is just one of many who have grown within the company. For example, a colleague of his who started working for Red Carnation over 20 years ago in lingerie, is now one of the company’s top general managers because he was given the confidence and skills to progress and grow.
It is this culture that, according to Raggett, is another of the great successes of a family business. “The people at Red Carnation care, by getting our people to understand this mission, the values of the company and how you want the company to grow, that idea comes from the top and from there you can earn the success and the fantastic level of customer service we have achieved.
Looking ahead, Jonathan feels the challenge he faces is keeping everyone focused day in and day out, keeping them focused on the guests coming today and tomorrow and making sure they keep going. to be supported in the Red Spirit Carnation. Raggett wants to ensure that guests leave with their expectations exceeded and their next trip and stay with Red Carnation Hotels already in mind.