The five winning pubs were chosen largely on the basis of their score from two visits by mystery customers. Pubs are rated on all aspects of hospitality, from cleanliness and service to marketing and merchandising. This year, questionnaires included new sections on interior design and use of social media, in response to customers’ increased expectations in these areas.
Chief executive Tom Davies said, “The achievement of our winning pubs cannot be overstated. Scoring consistently well across two in-depth mystery visits is a tremendous result and a reflection of the high standards across the board that these talented licensees have embedded in their pubs. It is a pleasure to recognise their hard work with a Brakspear Hospitality Award and a financial reward that will help them to improve their pubs.
“We are also delighted that the estate overall has again lifted its average mystery customer score, for the fourth year. This is especially impressive given that we have made the questionnaire more robust every year, to make sure it stays in line with customer’s rising expectations when they visit a pub. Since we started mystery visits in 2010, our average score has risen by 10%, which we take as a ringing endorsement for the scheme.”
Hospitality Award 2014 winners
- Doug & Lolly Green: Little Angel, Henley
- Rob & Ellie Blues: Butcher’s Arms, Sonning Common
- Rachel Ainsley: Dolphin, Eastbourne
- Lee Curtis: Bowler, Clerkenwell
- Jay Kansikan & Aay Phanthamat: Rising Sun, Thame
The Hospitality Awards were announced at the annual Brakspear Summer Party, held at Bix Manor near Henley-on-Thames and attended by around 150 tenants, lessees and head office employees. The winners were given a plaque to display outside their pub and a prize of either £1,000 in cash, or £2,000 to invest in their business. Last year, most of the winners chose the investment option; the Catherine Wheel at Goring-on-Thames bought a new log burner while the Plowden Arms at Shiplake near Henley installed new kitchen equipment.
Ellie Blues, tenant with husband Rob at the Butcher’s Arms in Sonning Common, said, “It’s good to see the effort we’ve put into the pub paying off, so we’re delighted to win this award. The mystery visits are a useful way of tracking how our customers perceive the Butcher’s Arms, and in the most recent visit, the areas that were highlighted as needing improvement were ones that I’d already identified – for example, the pub does need a bit of redecoration now.
“We’ll be investing our £2,000 winnings into improving the pub interior – in fact, I’ve already booked the Brakspear interior designer to come over and give us some advice on how to make better use of our dining area.”
Brakspear’s mystery customer programme is designed and implemented by The Silent Customer, based in Henley.
Caption to attached image: Doug & Lolly Green, Little Angel; Kate Crouch & Rachel Ainsley, Dolphin; Tom Davies, Brakspear chief executive; Ellie & Rob Blues, Butcher’s Arms; Jay Kansikan & Aay Phanthamat, Rising Sun; Lee Curtis & Nicola Marsham, Bowler