12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
Jason Dombrower talks about his award winning hotel which thrives on special services to its business travellers
The tired and probably jet lagged business traveller who arrives at eight in the morning is a regular sight at the Quality Hotel Edinburgh. The hotel, a few minutes from Edinburgh International Airport, is so used to such arrivals that it has a special policy to deal with them.
General manager Jason Dombrower has asked his housekeepers always to have two rooms ready to use by 8am. "We don't have a formal check-in so the guest who arrives at 7am will get the first clean room.
"You know they are going to be tired when they arrive off a plane and so you have to cater for them. They might have a meeting in an hour's time so they will need to go and get changed," he said.
This is one of many services Mr Dombrower, a Canadian with 21 years' experience in the hospitality industry, has introduced at the airport hotel. His reward has been two awards for the property in the last few months.
The Scottish Hotel Awards made the Quality hotel is best airport-based hotel in the country earlier this year and Choice Hotels International whose brands include Quality, made the property its European Quality Hotel of the Year.
For the second award, Mr Dombrower beat off challenges from Sweden, France, Italy, Norway and Germany.
"It was a nice surprise to win these awards for our services directly for the business customer," he said.
The vast majority of guests during weekdays - about 90% - are on business with many either arriving or departing via the airport. Mr Dumbrower believes they need different services from guests in hotel in city centres.
Besides the east attitude to early arrivals, the hotel also provides "breakfast in a bag" for early risers who leave before the restaurant opens which lets them eat while on the move. There is 24 hour room service, again to cater for those keeping late hours or adjusting to the local time, a complimentary shuttle to the air port half a mile away and a popular "Stay and Fly package", available to all guests.
Under this scheme, travellers can pay £75 for an overnight stay which includes breakfast and 15 nights car parking in the hotel grounds - good value and highly convenient for the business travellers on a two or three day trip.
There is also in the hotel that other constant need for the business traveller Wi-Fi access to the Internet.
Hotels are airports are popular and well used - Mr Dombrower's is currently enjoying 80% occupancy - and there is stiff competition around Edinburgh from a Hilton, a Marriott, a Holiday Inn, a Novotel and an independent player, the North House hotel.
But this close competition simply emphasises the need to be different and offer something out of the ordinary.
The Quality Hotel has 95 en-suite rooms and meeting rooms which can cater for from two people to 100. Mr Dombrower said that being 11 miles from Edinburgh, it was also easy to get in and out of the city for a day of meetings.
"The hotel was built in 1990 for the Highland Society and our older rooms - 30 of them - are a bit smaller than the others but there is nothing we can do about that. We are a three-star hotel but I think we punch above our weight in terms of service which I think easily is at the four-star level.
"We have thought of building an extension but this has not gone ahead," he said.
Mr Dombrower began his career in the hotel business as a bellboy at a five-star property in Toronto, his home city. "I realised that that was what I wanted to do. The only other job I have ever had was as a paper boy," he said.
He got his degree in hospitality and worked 11 years for Marriott, then as resident manager at St. Andrews from 2001-2003 and then to California where he worked again for Marriott. Then it was back to the UK with Hilton and then four years ago he joined Quality Hotels.
The property he works for is owned and run by Chardon Management in the shape of father and daughter team Maurice Taylor and Nicola Taylor and operates under Choice Hotels' Quality brand.
In his time in the industry, he says that much has changed, like the technology and the expectation of Wi-Fi. But he said guests also expected a higher standard of cleanliness in rooms and, increasingly, a flat screen television.
"We have a very good chef and a fantastic brasserie here and I think expectation here have also changed. People now expect fresh, locally produced food and organic. This change has been very sudden, over the past two years," he said.
He has also seen the way that hotels are run change with new procedures and practices being rolled out which he ruefully admits younger people take to much more easily.
"It seems much easier to train new people. I have found that everywhere I have worked. It just seems that the older I get, the harder it seems to get," he said.