Royal Ascot

Case Studies

Royal Ascot

Royal ascot logo and hgem logo

Who? Royal Ascot

HGEM has worked alongside Ascot Racecourse for seven years helping them not only to define and measure the guest experience, but, more recently, to gain a day-to-day overview of the food and beverage operation in real time. HGEM is an extension of the Royal Ascot team, working as their eyes and ears on the ground. It’s a challenge on a large scale - Royal Ascot is an event associated with very high standards, so guests have high expectations. The event welcomes around 300,000 guests over five days, offering them anything from a hog roast right through to a five-course Michelin standard meal and everything in between. There are over 100 bars and food outlets around the racecourse and more than 200 private boxes. Royal week is the busiest of the year, seeing staff numbers on site increase from 143 to over 6000.

What HGEM does:

There are three parts to what HGEM does at Ascot, which feed into real-time analysis of guest experience. The operations team at Ascot is focused on delivering the event, and HGEM helps them identify the areas in which they need to react and adapt their service quickly to avoid disappointing guests. We are their damage limitation control and we’re there to ensure every guest has a positive, memorable experience.

We give the Ascot team active insight into what’s happening on the ground. We collate information from our on-site Guest Experience Managers, interviewers and mystery guests on the ground to allow the team at Ascot to make quick changes to improve guest experience there and then. This can help with problems such as queue management, cleanliness and staffing.

HGEM’S real time value-add is based around feedback from mystery guests. With their reports being completed, validated and delivered before 5pm the same day, it ensures that Ascot are able to feed back performance notes to relevant teams and managers, making positive changes in time for the following day. In one instance we saw the Mystery Visit score for a single unit leap from 55% to 86% in three days.

The deep analytical side is the work that goes on afterwards to ensure we understand how Royal Ascot can move forward and improve guest experience for the next year. Here we also review all of the data collected in our face-to-face interviews - meaning we can give the team insight not only into how they measure up against their own expectations, but also the extent to which the event met the expectations of the paying guests. Then we deliver advice on how to help bridge the gap between intended and actual guest experience by providing a post-event report using all the data, turning key insights into useful and actionable KPIs for future. We also work with Ascot’s senior management team and board of directors to ensure we are capturing the most relevant and useful data for them for the future.

Since HGEM began working at Royal Ascot the event has seen an incremental improvement in guest experience, with figures seeing a positive shift across the board. Every year, the scope of HGEM’s work at Royal Ascot increases as we develop more ways to add value to their operation.

“With an event as big as Royal Ascot, there are so many things to consider when it comes to delivering great guest experience,” says HGEM’s HR & Operations Director, Lisa Chambers. “Having dedicated guest experience staff on the ground can help ensure that promises are fulfilled, that the flow of people and resource is managed. We support the effective running of operations as well as providing in-depth analysis of what is working well and what isn’t, and we do this quickly. When the stakes are high - it’s an annual event with one chance to get it right - HGEM delivers targeted feedback and advice that can be actioned immediately.”

Jonathan Parker, Director of Food and Beverage at Ascot says:

“HGEM works as an extension of our team at Ascot. In the past, there was a view that they were part of the ‘secret police,’ but now it’s widely understood that they play a crucial role in identifying issues with delivery and training, and helping us to solve them. This year, we added 1,000 extra restaurant spaces as a result of insight gleaned from HGEM research, which showed that guests wanted a more formal dining experience.

HGEM also helped us identify individual food stands that were performing badly, and gave us actionable insight to turn this around over the course of the event. The real-time feedback this year was extremely useful. In the case of one stand who scored badly on a Tuesday, scores rocketed on the Wednesday after the team running it implemented action based on HGEM’s mystery guest reports, and their ratings stayed high for the rest of the week. HGEM’s findings also helped us identify where front of house staff were forgetting to upsell, in time to turn this around.

This year, we tried a new focus, asking HGEM mystery guests to assess the performance of our hospitality packages. This required them to assess the experience subjectively and holistically - rather than focusing on isolated interactions and assessing those. This integrated and personalised feedback delivered valuable insight that would have been impossible to get otherwise.”

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