Community Stories > The Red Carnation Hotel Collection: Our Story

The Red Carnation Hotel Collection: An organisation that cares about providing exceptional service for its employees and its guests

‘We never rest on our laurels, and we are continuously looking for ways that we can improve the lives of the people that work for us.’

A multi-award-winning organisation, the London-based Red Carnation Hotel Collection, proudly boasts a portfolio of 18 4 and 5* luxury properties around the world, all whilst sharing its founding values that define their family owned and run business.


Celebrating 100 years of hospitality in 2020, the Red Carnation Hotel collection currently sits within seven countries from South Africa, to Botswana, Switzerland, and the UK, with its warm, inclusive ethos embodied throughout every property.

Winning a host of global awards including Best Family-Owned Luxury Boutique Hotel Chain, Catey Award for Best Sustainable Business and HRH The Princess Royal & City & Guilds – Princess Royal Training Award throughout the last 12 months, the Red Carnation Hotel’s prestige speaks for itself.

Employing over 3,000 employees globally, the Red Carnation Hotel collection are pioneers when it comes to people management in the hospitality sector, and with 80% of its managers working their way up through the company and via management programmes, their success stories speak for themselves.

Working with Investors in People for over 15 years, and proudly one of a very small handful of hospitality businesses with ‘We invest in people’ Platinum accreditation, we caught up with the team at Red Carnation Hotels, to discuss how an on-going and targeted investment in L&D, people programmes, and training has ensured that the organisation continues to stay at the very top of their game.


Investing in our people has helped us buck the trend in a sector with a historically poor reputation for people management

As a family owned and run organisation that operates across the globe, the focus within all of our hotels is still our people, with initiatives around engagement, career development and diversity our top priority.

We offer a high-end, personable, and memorable service within all of our properties, and our ethos throughout the last century has been to ensure our guests return to us again and again.

Hospitality has always struggled with attracting and retaining talent, as poor hours, minimal pay, and questionable working conditions has given the sector a bad reputation. However, at Red Carnation Hotels we’ve fought hard to combat this and through our training, programmes, and employee benefits, we have always been able to attract talent to work for us, to learn and grow and most importantly to reach their full potential.

We pay our employees fairly, perhaps better than people sometimes realise! We give people opportunities that other companies may not, and we also look after people to ensure they don’t leave us for the wrong reasons because of this.


Working to create the right conditions that our people stay, grow and thrive continues to be our #1 priority

At the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, we cannot run our business without employing ‘people people’, who can engage emotionally with our guests. These employees give our unique style of service to each paying customer as well as to one another, and that is why we stand out from the crowd in a saturated marketplace.

We need our employees to stay with us, so that our regular returning guests see the same faces and receive the brilliant service they are used to, from our polished, knowledgeable, and caring employees. 

With over 80% of our managers homegrown from our organisation, we are very proud of what people can achieve at Red Carnation when they are given the tools they need to develop.  This includes regular feedback and appraisals, many learning and development opportunities and ample resources on offer, in order to become brilliant managers.

We welcome and celebrate people from every possible background, culture, sexual orientation and the differently abled, and are especially proud of our female-friendly work environment. Our workforce is made up of 51% women, with nearly 40% of these in top managerial roles, including six at general manager level, which is a true achievement in the male-dominated hospitality sector.


Our managers lead from the front and act as role models, to ensure collaboration and internal progression continues to see us excel

We have put a full and comprehensive onboarding process in place that includes several catch ups with a manager and a full induction, whilst simultaneously expecting new starters to learn our style of service and feel empowered early on to excel in this. 

We have a system of conducting in-depth appraisals and 1-on1’s that are tracked, so that everyone has a meaningful conversation with their manager on at least a quarterly basis where they are given the tools and resources to thrive in their jobs and reach their potential. 

Our organisation offers the usual benefits that other hotel companies offer, as well as travel benefits from our parent company – which make us unique and is a real USP for us when attracting and retaining talent. 

As well as this, we give our employees the forum and the platform to speak up and we listen to what they say and act on what people want. Our learning and development team offers training and learning opportunities every day across the whole company to ensure that we are up-skilling and offering the best possible service and become the best they can be – without our people we have no business!

Liz McGivern, Vice President, People & Culture, Red Carnation Hotels

“Our culture is distinct, and the majority of people do well here; we encourage people to be themselves and we love characters!  This is why our guests return to us and this makes for great business.  The comments that we get back from our guests reinforce that what we strive to do is recognised, appreciated, and helps our business to flourish.”


Overcoming the pandemic and keeping our people at the forefront of our organisation has been a huge success

Traditionally many people have seen the hospitality sector as a transient job rather than a career full of opportunities.

Coming out of the pandemic, there was a recruitment crisis throughout the UK and it led many hotel companies to fall down and fail on their service, as the highly-skilled and motivated workers simply weren’t there to employ.

Thankfully we recovered quicker than most, as our reputation as an employer of choice meant we were able to attract people, where others couldn’t so easily. 

A way around this issue, was through the work we did with the universities both before and during the pandemic, and this ensured that graduates wanted to join us and saw Red Carnation Hotels as an employer of choice. Our award-winning management programme then ensured we got through that really difficult period and a lot of the recruits we took on after the pandemic are still with us now.


Working with Investors in People has transformed our people’s operation – morale in the organisation is at an all-time high!

We have a lower-than-average turnover of our staff compared to others in the sector, we also have excellent guest return rates and have won numerous industry awards for our service, our people management, our sustainability efforts and for our DEI, so we are incredibly proud of our employees and their on-going commitment to us. 

Investors in People has been a mainstay in our business operations throughout the last 10+ years. Having regular assessments with our assessor has given us a chance to check in with our team to ensure that all of our objectives match up and this helps keep us focused and planning ahead.

The We invest in people framework helps us to ensure that we are running our business with the people at the forefront and that will never change, especially after reaching Platinum in 2020. When our employees feel appreciated, valued, and recognised, the morale inevitably increases and it is no coincidence that through higher morale, our engagement statistics have been excellent year-on-year.

About Investors in People

Investors in People have been working with a huge range of big and small organisations from Public Sectors, SMEs, Charities, PLCs and anything in between for over 30 years. We have accredited more than 50,000 organisations and our  accreditation is recognised in 66 countries around the world, making it the global benchmark when it comes to people management. So we know we speak your language and can offer the specific kind of support and guidance your organisation needs.


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