Continuous Product Improvement in the Hospitality Industry

By Nick Gratwick, February 11, 2019

Nick Gratwick - Guest Author

Anyone can make changes to their products. Change is simple but success can vary. Making the right changes to a product takes thought, insight, process, vision and culture.

The focus must always be on the why; why do people buy our products, why would they go elsewhere, why do certain products work whilst others need a push, why are customers motivated to entertain?  To be a true visionary you must be able to answer the ‘why’ questions.

Hospitality Racing View

In any operational team, the focus can easily slip into ‘the how’, the logistics; how do we build the infrastructure, how can we overcome a particular hurdle, how are people going to get from A to B. Whilst it’s essential to address these, the customer must be the primary consideration (it is customer who will determine the success of the event we are creating).  To achieve this it is essential to develop a team that is passionate about customer experience, a team that asks for the negatives first, to understand which areas need improvement, a team that  strives for perfection throughout the entire customer experience. At KP our values reflect this; ‘Experience Experts’ – employing the best people in the industry, ‘All About You’ – every part of your experience should be memorable and ‘Never Satisfied’ – we continually innovate and improve. We are all striving towards a common objective regardless of the position held or which team you sit in within the company.  This is in our DNA.

It is true that the hospitality industry has never been more competitive, which is fantastic for the both the sector and the customer. This competitive edge as acts as a stimulus for innovation. The ultimate ‘winners’ are the organisations that listen to their customers, front line staff and suppliers.  The organisations that invite critique and feedback.

Hospitality Cocktails

Continuous product improvement cannot be sustained without process and a consistent approach to effecting change. We developed our existing process in 2014 and it is used across each event. A series of over 70 questions, digitally distributed and collated, allows respondents to look at the event with a 360o view (with guidance to ensure a collective and reliable view is received). Respondents are critiquing everything that the customer sees and touches, from car park signage to the personal farewell at the end of the event. The evaluation is live so the team can review the feedback and make appropriate changes.  Data from this forms a crucial part of the post-event review process. Whist NPS and customer scores in evaluation can be flattering (and satisfying), the real gold is in the comments we receive from our customers – this is where we find the real insight.

Hospitality After-Party

The output of the review is then overlaid with trends and observations and linked back to the main objectives. Deciphering the difference between trends and fads is crucial to ensure we don’t veer off and design something which is out of fashion next year.  An example that springs to mind is the creation of The Winning Post at Epsom Derby. Reviewing the demographic of audience, we noticed there was a group of people who weren’t being catered for. This younger audience wanted to entertain in a more playful, interactive and informal way. We created a new structure on the winning line, cocktail led, informal hospitality and hosts the official after party. We had instant success and has grown year on year.


The result of the above leads to change consideration for every event, each year. Consideration changes to action when we ask the ‘whys’.

Is the process of continual improvement a guaranteed method for success – not at all! There will be mistakes made along the way, but I would much rather the team is courageous and keeps pushing.


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