Basic Info

Jonathan Raggett
Contributor Status:
Native AdVice
Initial Contribution Date:
Primary Location:
London, UK

Career Info

Primary Industry:
Hotels / Hospitality
Personal Career Headline:
Business Description (One-Liner):

Boutique luxury hotel chain.

Experience Timeline:
21-30 years of work experience

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Career Snapshot:

Jonathan Raggett has worked in hotels since leaving Westminster College with a Higher National Diploma in Hotel Management. Jonathan joined RCH in 1998 as General Manager of The Rubens Hotel. In 2000 he was promoted to Managing Director, overseeing the rapid expansion to the 17 award-winning luxury boutique hotels and a country inn which RCH now operates. In November 2009, Jonathan Raggett was delighted to be named Hotelier of the Year at the world-renowned Hotel Catey Annual Industry Awards organised by the Caterer & Hotelkeeper.

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How did you get into the industry?:

When I left school I studied for a degree in hospitality and was bitten by the bug, I’ve been involved with hotels ever since.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?:

Red Carnation Hotels is a family-owned business, when I joined the company in 1998 the collection was made up of three hotels in London and one in Palm Beach.  Over the last eighteen years, the Tollman family have found hotels in great locations which were in need of some TLC.  There are now seventeen hotels in the collection, all of them 5 or 4-star, offering outstanding levels of personal service and great comfort.  Each hotel is unique, with bedrooms being individually decorated, but all have the same DNA at their heart – meticulous attention to detail, where guests experience the hotels as their ‘home away from home.’

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business? Greatest Accomplishment?:

One of our greatest successes has been our ethos on training, and the culture of developing our own people.  This has led to great staff retention, which impacts on the service we are able to provide.  Staff are knowledgeable and confident in their roles and returning guests appreciate the fact that they see familiar faces.  This in turn leads to some fantastic user generated content with all of our hotels enjoying a high ranking on TripAdvisor, particularly in London where three of our hotels are listed in the Top 3.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?):

Eighteen years ago when we used to visit 21 Club in New York to participate in a showcase for US travel agents, no-one knew of Red Carnation Hotels, now the collection is well-known among luxury US travel agents who know, like and trust us.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?:

The ideal experience at a Red Carnation Hotel results in the guest leaving the property and recommending it to friends, family and colleagues.

How do you motivate others?:

Motivating the Red Carnation Hotels employees is a combination of providing them with training and development opportunities and understanding their needs.  Working in hospitality can be demanding and there’s a lot of hard work involved but we try to create a sense of fun and camaraderie.  I make sure I regularly thank my direct reports and that they in turn cascade thanks down to their teams.

Career advice to those in your industry?:

I’m a great admirer of award-winning restaurateur Danny Meyer, and agree with him that to be successful in the hospitality business you need to have five core emotional skills:·

  • Optimistic warmth·
  • An insatiable curiosity to learn for the sake of learning·
  • Work ethic·
  • Empathy·
  • Self-awareness and integrity

What Else To Know

Tell Us More:

Life Motto:

When talking about staff we always talk about talent, but there are 10 things that require zero talent:

  • Being on time·
  • Work ethic·
  • Effort·
  • Body language·
  • Energy·
  • Attitude·
  • Passion·
  • Being coachable·
  • Doing extra·
  • Being prepared

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