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Empowering employees to take risks and drive change

Extended Stay





Exec miles traveled to drive CX


Extended Stay Hotels (ESH) is on a mission to improve guest satisfaction, and energizing the entire organization is a crucial part of accomplishing this goal. It all started when ESH’s executive team, led by CEO Jim Donald, former CEO of Starbucks, and CMO Thomas Seddon, former CEO of the Subway Franchisee Association, took the helm in early 2012. The challenge was battling a dynamic where employees were afraid to make decisions that would cost the company money. This dynamic, according to Donald, creates a mood of inaction; employees are “like a deer in the headlights, waiting for someone to tell them what to do.”

The executive team continually leads by example, communicating daily and working to empower associates. This includes traveling more than 200,000 miles a year to personally visit 350 ESH properties, leaving daily voicemails for the company, and handing out “Get Out of Jail Free” cards to encourage all employees to take risks that satisfy guests and generate new business for ESH without fear of failure.

ESH is comfortable taking risks because it’s carefully monitoring customer experience. With Medallia, the company can see guests’ response to a change in real-time and adjust accordingly. ESH continually scours Medallia data to identify areas of improvement, then tests innovative additions to rooms.

In a recent survey, ESH asked guests, “What do you miss most when you’re away from home: TV and Recliner, Significant Other, or Pets?” More than 50% of respondents selected “TV and Recliner.” Pairing this data with declining satisfaction scores around the television, ESH replaced old box TVs with new flat-screen TVs company-wide, along with recliners at select locations, causing scores to immediately rise.

Jim Donald CEO Extended Stay Hotels

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