In Conversation with Laurent Schauder

Laurent Schauder
Image credit Hyatt Regency Blackfriars

The team at City Matters sat down with Laurent Schauder, General Manager at Hyatt Regency London Blackfriars to discuss the role and what’s in the pipeline for 2024.

Q. Talk us through your role at Hyatt Regency Blackfriars?

A. My role as General Manager of the hotel is to manage our property and lead our team to success. That means financially, commercially and operationally. I see my role for achieving the results to be at the service of others, to inspire, guide, coach and enable my colleagues to be at their best. As Richard Branson once said : “I believe a good leader brings out the best in people by listening to them, trusting in them, believing in them, respecting them, and letting them have a go.”

Q. Run us through a typical day at Hyatt Regency Blackfriars.

A. One of the particularities of our industry is that everyday is different. We work in a very dynamic environment which is something I truly enjoy. So I would not really say that I have a typical day at work. I dedicate my time to our team, our customer and constantly look for new things we can do in order to enhance our colleague or customer journey

Q. What do you love most about the hotel?

A. The hotel went through 2 years of extensive renovations and became a luxurious and sophisticated hotel in the heart of the city offering spacious accommodation, distinguished F&B outlets, located between the business hub and leisure attractions of the city. However, it is our team that I love the most about the hotel. Our industry is all about people. As much as location, design and other factors are important to provide a pleasant environment, it is the people who work in the hotel that make a place special after all. We are very fortunate to have an amazing group of individuals who go above and beyond in order to make everyone feel special and I am sincerely grateful to each and everyone of them for their dedication.

Q. How do you prioritise guest satisfaction while also ensuring efficient hotel operations?

A. Each guest is different and has different needs and expectations. In order to be successful, it is important to apply empathy and to understand what is important to our guests. A lot can be done easily without disrupting your day to day organization or efficiency and still be able to provide what I call “those moments of more to our guests”. Guest personalisation is about understanding what is important to the person (one person at a time) and to adapt to it and to give the empowerment to your team to make those moments that count happen.

Q. What is your approach to staff training and development to ensure that employees deliver consistent and exceptional service to guests?

A. Training and development are crucial. Our industry has suffered heavily and globally from COVID and many skilled employees had to change industries and did not return. It is today, more than ever important to hire the right personality (soft skills) and to teach them the technicalities of their role. If you create a team of committed, loyal and motivated colleagues and invest in their development, you will be surprised about the results you can achieve. Of course, we are not perfect and there are always growing pains in the process, but this is all part of the role.

Q. What are the biggest challenges that you face as a General Manager and how do you overcome them?

A. The main challenge that I have encountered over the past 20 years in this industry is consistency. To be able to operate an operation 365 days a year 24/7 and be able to deliver a consistent experience to all is one of the most challenging things to do in our business. Following COVID, recruitment became a challenge, which added to the complication of
consistency. Finding skilled, motivated employees to work in our industry has been put under great challenges. As mentioned above, we have to be creative, with an entrepreneurial mindset, not afraid to experiment and try new ways of doing things. Aside of an emphasis placed on hiring the right mindset and a focus on training. I also believe that my role is to promote and motivate others to work in this industry, and to show all the beauty and opportunities this industry has to offer.

Q. What has been your biggest achievement whilst working within this role?

A. Preparing for an opening is quite a unique and challenging experience by nature and something that feels like an achievement the day you finally open your hotel. However, opening is the starting point, not the finish line, so when it comes to what I would consider the biggest achievement of our newly opened hotel, is the fact that our hotel ramp up period was very short and that the hotel started to perform from its very early days in terms of financial results, but also customer service. There is still much more we would like to achieve which fills us with a lot of motivation for the next few months and years ahead of us.

Q. With so many fantastic hotels in the City, how does Hyatt Regency London Blackfriars stay relevant for travellers and people looking to stay there for a few nights?

A. We’ve garnered exceptional guest feedback, attributing much of it to our spacious guestrooms in central London. Location is key, placing us mere moments from iconic landmarks like St. Paul’s Cathedral, Covent Garden, the vibrant Borough Market and Bank, catering to both business and leisure travelers. Our comprehensive dining options, from New York-style bistro fare, authentic Chinese cuisine to Latin American-inspired cocktail mixology, ensure culinary satisfaction. Additionally, our unwavering commitment to attentive guest service sets us apart, leaving a lasting impression on our visitors.

Q. Which other hotels in the City do you most admire?

A. I personally like the Rosewood Holborn, Great Scotland Yard, Andaz Liverpool Street & the Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square.

Q. What’s in the pipeline for 2024?

A. As far as our hotel is concerned, there are still a lot of projects and enhancements we are looking to implement. We firstly want to continue to establish our hotel as a great 5 star property in the City. We are not yet one year old, however have achieved a lot but we are still young in age. There are plenty of growing opportunities ahead of us and we are all very excited to see what the future brings.

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