Freeing people to focus on creating amazing guest experiences

London, United Kingdom
hospitality industry Hospitality

At a glance

  • Scheduling time reduced from 4 hours to 15 minutes
  • Given a Net Promoter Score of 80 by employees
  • Happier employees and better productivity
  • Eliminated holiday liability

The Story

Founded to create a “luxury hybrid hotel for today’s modern travellers,” citizenM is in a class of its own. With 19 hotels across three continents — and 17 more hotels under development — citizenM consistently provides best-in-class customer service.

Its unique hotels are designed around the needs of its guests, the “mobile citizens” that give citizenM its name. According to Matthew Bell, hotel operations director for Europe, this focus is the hotel group’s founding ethos. “We start from the point of wanting to deliver amazing guest experiences.”

Alongside the “curated chaos” of its living spaces, its comfortable bedrooms, and signature style, technology is core to citizenM’s unique offer. It boasts 60-second self-service check-in, RFID-enabled room keys, and emailed receipts.

“We use technology to look after processes so that our people can be free to look after people,” says Matthew.

"Our starting point is a desire to deliver amazing guest experiences."


The Challenge

Despite citizenM’s slick operation and growing reputation, staff scheduling was anything but a great experience.

Matthew wondered, “How is it that in the 21st century we’re still having people write schedules in Excel documents and share them globally?”

Hotel manager Cristina Ciupitu felt the pain of this old-tech approach, too. “We had one person who had to look after the scheduling,” says Cristina. “And we also had a different spreadsheet for each area – like scheduling, holidays and payroll. There was a lot of friction created by people requesting days off or shift swaps. We were spending quite a lot of time on it.”

In fact, scheduling alone was a four-hour job.

The spreadsheet-based approach caused other snags.. “We had issues around compliance and the equality of shifts, and around having a single source of truth,” says Matthew. “If someone changed the shift in Excel, did everyone see an updated version? And we also had trouble integrating the shift data with payroll.”

On top of that, Matthew wanted to create a better employee experience. “It would help us democratise the scheduling process so our Ambassadors could manage their own leave requests and shift swaps,” notes Matthew. “Ultimately, we could use algorithms to automate scheduling. Why should someone who’s really good at creating brilliant guest experiences spend time figuring out how to write the most efficient schedule?”

"How is it that in the 21st century we’re still having people write schedules in Excel documents and share them globally?"


The Solution

After evaluating several competitors through an RFP, citizenM chose Deputy based on the mix of technology and culture. “We operate in a SaaS world so a cloud-based solution was critical for us,” says Matthew. “Deputy not only met the scope of our RFP but the values very much align with who we are and how we work. It was a really strong fit from the outset.”

Deputy has already resolved many of the challenges that citizenM was struggling with. According to Matthew, “We now have a single source of truth for our schedules across all our European hotels. And automated scheduling through templates and shift swaps.”

“Also, working with a Deputy partner, we’ve put together algorithms to achieve both compliance and best practice in optimising a schedule,” boasts Matthew. “Employees are happier when we have the right people on the right shift at the right time. We get better productivity and guest satisfaction — all while saving time and money.”

In fact, scheduling time dropped from four hours to just 15 minutes..

And that makes management a whole lot easier. “When I first started with Deputy it was a relief,” says Cristina. “It was really great to be able see who’s working and where they are. Because everything is centralised in one platform, there’s no need to open the other spreadsheets. And it takes away all the back and forth of people asking whether they can have the time off or change shifts. It’s amazing and it works really well.”

One of the main goals for citizenM was to empower staff through Deputy. It’s worked.

“I was really excited to use Deputy,” says citizenM Ambassador Ilulia Serban. “I use the app so I can access Deputy all the time. And with the Deputy, you can request leave, holidays, and shift swaps. It gives you more control.”

After the proof-of-concept for Deputy, 80% of staff involved answered positively to the question “How likely are you to recommend Deputy to your citizenM colleagues?”

Matthew Bell knows exactly why he and his team love Deputy.

“We’ve been able to increase the number of times in which employees are given consecutive days off,” says Matthew. “We’ve seen fairer distribution of shifts between AM and PM. And — for the first time since I’ve been here — were able to finish the year with a zero holiday liability.”

In 2019, Matthew’s part of the operation eliminated the £7,000 holiday liability carried over from the previous year, while successfully scheduling holidays throughout the year.

For citizenM, amazing customer experience starts with the right staff, the right scheduling, and the right technology.

"It gives you more control. That’s what I really like about it."

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