How to Master Customer Experience with Tom Scantlebury

Simon chats to Tom Scantlebury, CEO and Founder of Sky Blue Customer Experience Services.

Show Notes

Sky Blue work with businesses to improve their customer connection by using tools designed to empower and educate the team. This in turn helps them to align with the customer, improve employee engagement and the bottom line of the business.

This is the first podcast that has been filmed. You can watch the recording here.


Simon Dell: So, welcome to the podcast, Tom Scantlebury. Give us the quick 30-second overview of who you are and what you do.

Tom Scantlebury: I founded a boutique customer experience consulting firm called Sky Blue CX Services about 3 1/2 years ago. What I put together was my career in hospitality that blended into starting up new business units and really transitioning into customer experience, wrapping that all together and trying to help small to medium-sized businesses to improve their levels of advocacy.

Simon Dell: And as a bizarre coincidence, you also happened to know Cam Parker, who has sat there about two weeks ago.

Tom Scantlebury: Yeah. I listened to your episode with Cam and I thought, “I know that guy! He’s a really good bloke.” What I was doing five years ago was I was working at Wyndham, Director of Customer Experience. And part of that was heading up new acquisitions and new hotels, the operational side of that. So, what we were doing at the time was, in the valley here in Brisbane, there’s a hotel called Tryp, which is a Spanish brand. It was the first time that brand have been moved into Australia.

We actually had a really unique opportunity being part of a global hotel group to do what we wanted with the brand. It was kind of like beg for forgiveness rather than for permission. We just wanted to stand out, to be iconic. We were a little hamstrung on the, the site was an old Buffalo’s, but it was derelict, full of graffiti.

Simon Dell: Bizarrely, I’ve been in there when somebody tried to convert it to a nightclub or a live music thing. I can’t remember.

Tom Scantlebury: So it’s sat there in the Valley, we’re like, “What can we do with it?” We came across the developer and said, “Let’s create something a little bit iconic.” And so, we actually found the graffiti artists that had got through because there’s some really well-known ones, and then we incorporated them to come back and actually create the art throughout the hotel. 

We created something cool but it was a pretty small building. The rooms were small. The facilities were pretty poor. No pool, small gym, we had a rooftop bar. We did what we could. But my role was really to invest in the human capital. We’ve got a cool product, but what does it feel like when you go in? And it’s the people that create feeling and the whole operational side.

One of the things we did was we spent a lot of time hiring a lot of people, had a lot of fun in how we recruited, creating our own language and how we wanted to be perceived. Part of that was like, “What are they going to wear?” BlackMilk, from the Valley, and this is when they’re really just massive.

Simon Dell: Did they have the factory in the Valley?

Tom Scantlebury: Yeah. That’s right. All our staff, they liked what we were doing. Cam and I met and we got on really well, so we had a similar view of the world. And I like supporting the local areas. They don’t normally do that kind of stuff but we’re like, “We’ll keep you guys out.” So, they were uniform clothes, and our staff, we went down to the factory and they got to pick whatever they wanted. They were kitted out in BlackMilk. So, look different.

Simon Dell: Even the guys? What were the guys wearing?

Tom Scantlebury: There wasn’t a lot of range for guys. No tights for the guys. But we got T-shirts made for men and they wore Chuck Taylors, Converse shoes. So, the guys didn’t have a huge range of BlackMilk stuff but even the housekeepers had these great tights, these nice dresses and stuff. It was great fun and the staff absolutely loved it. And they knew the BlackMilk story as well. 

We had a story. They had a story. Mixed all together and the door is opened. That hotel got to #1 on TripAdvisor within two weeks. It plateaued at about 6 or 7 over the coming months, but it did that without any real decent facilities, with really small rooms. But on the back of great, personal connections with the customers and people coming. Like anything, it’s the people and experience that make the memories.

And really, the pivot point for me was like, “Holy crap. This is most fun I’ve had for a while at work. Why can’t I do this stuff all the time? I’ve got to start my own business and stuff focusing on building experience and help.”

Simon Dell: Taking a step back for the role there at Wyndham. You said there was acquisitions involved, but that sort of customer insights. What does that mean in a hotel chain?

Tom Scantlebury: I think hospitality has always been the leading edge of CX. Because I remember I started back with Hyatt Hotels and you get those little cards in your room from little boxes. More or less, in real-time, on check out, you got feedback for the day, and that was lived and breathed. The department heads would read that feedback and act upon it. So, the principles of customer experience have been adopted in hospitality forever into the digital age.

Actually, one of the biggest CX vendors listed last year, actually another one, was about to list and got bought for $8 billion ASAP. Big money in capturing experience data, but that big one, Medallia, they started in hotels. They thought, “Let’s transition this paper feedback.” And so, they built a very successful company which now globally does incredibly-large customers. A little bit of hospitality but everything else along the way. 

In the digital age, there are a lot of different ways… And particularly when you’ve got TripAdvisor. And those kind of things turning up. There were aggregators now that can engage with feedback throughout the customer journey. So, it’s not very different to most businesses that actually collect experience data these days. Maybe in hospitality, in hotel world, people are a bit more in tune with working on recovering, any kind of negative feedback, and embracing feedback operationally on a daily basis.

It’s like an alert will go off once you go to bed, bed result, bed school, dashboards for managers, all those kind of stuff.

Simon Dell: So you’re managing all of that. I mean, that must be a fair amount of data coming in as well.

Tom Scantlebury: Yeah, that’s right. So really, you need a tool that makes that data simple and actionable. I saw a great example the other day of a picture of a hotel room. This would be representing that data for the end-user to act upon it. So, the end user is a housekeeping supervisor. 

They focus on cleaning rooms and managing people who clean rooms. They get a picture on their screen of a room and then there’s these little points to hover on. And then customers have said this about the beds over on the bathroom, “This is your score for bathroom. This is your score for the carpets.” And so, that data can be presented in a way that they can really see, “Are we better or worse in that particular area? What do I need to focus on? What do I need to celebrate?” So, lots of data but it’s really about getting the right data in the right people’s hands in real time so they can act on it.

Simon Dell: When you were working on something like that, that sort of data platform, is that something you guys built in-house or are there vendors and people that built software for you? How does that work?

Tom Scantlebury: Gone are the days of trying to build your own effective experience management platform. In fact, I think one of the big banks tipped in many millions to do their own only to turn to the big vendors and go, “Okay, we need your help.” For example, Telstra’s customer transformation, which has been launched by the previous year a long time ago, they had 15 people in their data team to cleanse that data to them plug into a vendor to send out. So, all of those surveys you get, there’s a lot of mechanics that go on behind the scenes, even if you’re just a smaller operator.

There’s getting the right data into the platform that you use, and then there’s the platform which just really makes things, research, distribution, reminders, quarantining, survey designing, There are quite a few platforms out there that start pretty basic and their massive enterprise-wide.

Simon Dell: IF we were talking small business, medium-sized business that wanted to do something like that, what’s the platform that you might recommend that they have a look at?

Tom Scantlebury: Full disclosure: We partner with Qualtrics which is the world’s leading and fastest growing experience management platform. And the thing we love about working with Qualtrics is that you can start small and that matures with your maturity curve. It’s kind of like you can build everything yourself. So really in that small to medium size, that’s a great vendor that you can… It’s still an investment but it helps you get the most out of it without having to hire experts.

Simon Dell: Where would it start at a cost if a business wanted to do something?

Tom Scantlebury: I think they’ve got research core platform in the teams. I’m not 100% sure. And particularly, because one of the key themes in small businesses is you don’t want to spend time learning, waste time learning on products and opportunities and things. Instead of engaging a market research agency, you can do your own market research and testings with sample groups. You can buy a panel of potential prospective customers, get feedback in real time and go, “Well, let’s not develop that product because nobody likes it.” That’s one of the options out there. It’s a pretty competitive market, and of course, you can start in the SurveyMonkey world.

Simon Dell: We do the SurveyMonkey last week. We got 55-60 responses on it from something, just by sending it out to our network. That’s up and running in an hour if you know what you’re doing. The hardest thing for a lot of businesses is knowing the questions to ask, which I’ll part that for later because I think that’s an important thing for a business of any shape and size.

The final question I want to talk about with hotels is: Clearly, what you’re saying is that if anyone here stayed in a hotel and you’ve filled in those response forms, they should have confidence that somebody’s actually reading them and that data is going somewhere. Some of those hotel companies still seem to be very behind in terms of customer experience. They seem to still lag behind. 

There’s Tom Goodwin who is on Twitter and LinkedIn. He’s quite famous for a quote. He was the guy who came up with the saying that the biggest accommodation company in the world owns no hotels. The biggest media company in the world owns no newspapers. He said that a long time ago but he’d achieved worldwide fame just from that quote alone.

He travels a lot. And if you watch his Twitter feed, he’s always bagging hotels for not quite getting the customer service right. Still charging for the internet and things like that. With all this great data that you seem to have… And you obviously work for a specific chain, and you can’t talk for the whole industry, but with all the great data that they seem to be collecting, how do they manage still to be so far behind?

Tom Scantlebury: It’s rare to have those great experiences, let’s face it. They’re in the service industry but it’s still rare to have a perfect experience. Now, there’s a couple of points to this. One is that customer journey, from reservation to arrival, to your room, to some food, to the internet, to the elevators, to the checkout… There are so many friction opportunities. It takes an incredible team focus to get all those things right.

Often, the more you pay, the higher expectations are, but also the higher the standards and the quality. And it’s a competitive marketplace. Economies move, and so there are pressures to deliver profit for the owner of the business, and there are challenges securing the right people and investing in their training. So, the sector itself is really challenged. The other thing is that they’re not that agile.

You get free internet at McDonalds. You turn up at a hotel, you expect to get free internet. You get it at McDonald’s and it’s high speed. Now, to actually invest in the hardware to put internet into a hotel, hundreds of thousands of dollars. I mean, technology is improving all the time. But that was an argument that just, kicking and screaming, they had to take a hit on the cost because their customers expect it.

It’s hard to be agile. Now, that really opened the door for this disruption with Airbnb. Interestingly, what Airbnb did was they were picked up as, “This is the next unicorn.” They got all the big guys that invested in them early, and they were like, “We’re set. We’ve got funding.” They were working out of New York but their numbers were not really taking off. One of the founders went over to New York, sat with their users, so the hosts, and just said, “Show me what you’re doing.” And they’re trying to take pictures. So, all of their listings looked really crap.

And so, really, what they did, even though they thought they were kind of set, they went and really emphasised with their customers to get that stuff right. The other thing they did also was early days, they exchanged money between customers. Friction point, it was the same. Get rid of that transaction. That’s all done behind the scenes. So, they just filled this gap where you’ve got a personal experience between your hosts and the guest. And you don’t get that in a big hotel chain. You’re kind of like… You’re in line, you meet a few people, but you don’t get that experience. 

And so now, the world is moving to this, “We want experiences. We want to spend our money on experiences.” And hotels can provide it, can be hit or miss. Airbnb, you can really tailor your experience. Therefore, they’re able to fill that gap and put pressure on hotels. Some can keep up and adapt, others struggle.

Simon Dell: Airbnb is a great story. When I’ve read the Airbnb story… I can’t remember which book I read it in, but the founders actually went and took the photos to start with. They actually did the photos because they realised that the owners were crap at taking photos. And then obviously, the point that they make is that that’s not a scalable business. You can’t have the Airbnb founders going out, taking photos of every location.

But the interesting lesson I took out of that, which a lot of people take out of that, is that at the start of the business in a startup is to do all those things so that you understand the friction points, as you say, but also so that you get to a level or a standard you know that you want. Take those photos for as long as you possibly can until you can’t do it anymore, and then find a way of automating it. What they’re saying is right at the start of a startup, there’s a lot of work.

You’re going to do everything. And then gradually, you pull things out of what you were doing and automate them or find a better way of doing it, a more efficient way of doing it, that kind of thing. That’s something I’ve taken out and learned a lot, and I try and present that to clients as well going, “You’re spending a lot of time here. And as you scale, you can’t keep spending time there. You’ve got to take yourself out of that and find another way of doing that.”

I have a client who does a lot of cooking lessons and things like that, and she likes to do them. She likes to engage with the customer, and I go, “There’s a finite amount of cooking lessons that you can do every month. And it’s great that we’re doing it so we’re getting a standard. But if we want to do 10, 20, 30 of these a month, it can’t be you doing it. We have to find another alternative.”

Tom Scantlebury: Obviously, when you’re starting something and building it, you roll your sleeves up, you’re hands on and you’re feeling that experience and you’re involved in it. That’s important. The challenge is, as the business grows, is experience usually goes the other way. So, scaling experience is really one of the big challenges about growth. And that’s where, really, like a listening measurement tool, allows you to stay involved with the customer journey without physically being there.

There’s a tipping point when it’s like, “I don’t need that because I’m in the business. I can see things all the time.” But that’s not sustainable if you want to grow. And if you want to scale and have multiple locations, multiple products, that kind of thing, that’s where a CX strategy plays a role.

Simon Dell: Let’s turn it around, move completely from hotels to smaller businesses. Just on the other side of the road here, people don’t know where we are because this is audio, and video as well, but on the other side of the road here is a mechanic. We’re actually going to go and see them next week. They gave us an email and said they’d like to chat to us. If I were a small business like that and my turnover is small, maybe it’s under a million, and I’m servicing a car, or I’m fixing a car, or I’m selling a product, or I’m selling something… What should I be doing, getting feedback?

The question we had earlier is: What should I be asking people?

Tom Scantlebury: I think that’s important for everybody in business to consider, is that it’s a competitive marketplace. The real driver of all of this stuff is that the financials prove that the better the experience, the higher the level of advocacy, the less you got to work for new customers, the higher the level of retention. That mechanic on the road, there are plenty of places you can go. And that mechanic probably isn’t a great marketer. Probably got a sign on the road. Well, he reached out to you so that’s a step in the right direction.

Simon Dell: They’re probably a sign on the road or they’re getting insurance jobs. I often find with mechanics, it’s really down to location. And so, digress here, I remember I had a conversation with a mechanic years ago. He got lots of insurance jobs and he had a really good location on the main road where everybody saw his signage, and that was all the marketing we did and that kept him happy. He’d come to us and he’d said, “Why should I bother investing in marketing? I’m making money. I’m getting paid well. We’ve got a great business.”

And I said to him, “What’s on either side of business?” And he goes, “Empty warehouses. Empty sheds.” I said, “What happens if another mechanic moves in next to you?” And you can kind of see the cogs whirring in his head, he’s going, all of a sudden, his potential for drive-by business is halved. And I’m saying, “You do the marketing now, you build the loyalty, you build the customer base, you build the brand now, then no other mechanic’s ever going to want to move in next to you.”

In some respects, it’s a defensive strategy. That’s another reason for investing in marketing. I’m going off on a tangent there. 

Tom Scantlebury: But I mean, that’s right. Business might be good. However, the strategic advantage is the quality of your experience, because your customers become your marketers. Marketing spreads the story, then they experience what’s the story that’s being told. They’re going to return. And when I go to a mechanic, let’s just say — I’ve got to go to my dealer anyway at the moment, but if I had a bad experience, I’ll pick the other dealer. I’ll drive further away from that one and I’ll tell people about it.

When you had a bad experience, they don’t hear that. I mean, a lot of automotive now have got full-blown CX programs where they’re peppering you with feedback right after service. The smaller guys, businesses, it’s like your customers are your potential marketers. They’re going to spread all of that positive word. People believe other people.

Simon Dell: That’s the number one area.

Tom Scantlebury: I think there’s three key steps to this. The first step is a realisation that this is actually a priority, that the experience of your customers actually… You won’t necessarily see it in a straight line, but it drives future revenue. The second thing is, you want to therefore focus on getting that experience right. That’s really standing back and thinking about, “What are the steps my customer walks through when they interact with me?” 

From the first phone call to the finish point. And what you want to do is you want to start strong and you want to finish strong. Then what are those potential friction points along the way? How can I reduce those friction points, and how can I make that memorable? What can I do that my competitors wouldn’t do? So, thinking about designing that experience, and that’s the fun, creative part of the job. Then once you’ve done that, it’s like, “Okay, it’ll be good to know how people are feeling.” 

It can be that feedback, particularly for a small business, that can be just having a conversation, having an email after their interaction.

Simon Dell: And I think email is the perfect opportunity, but what would you ask them? I mean, I see often… We share it on Instagram, so anyone who wants to go see the Paper Planes Instagram, someone took a photo at Heathrow Airport of a bin, a rubbish bin. And it had one of those happy space, smiley face, “What did you think of this bin?” It was hilarious. I found it on Twitter and I put it on Instagram, but people were going, “Why we asking people about their engagement experience with a bin?” I can’t remember but it was a big CX firm, one of the global ones. Their little name was on the bottom of the thing.

And I’m thinking, “I can only imagine how much money they’ve been paid to collect and collate and present data about the use of a fucking bin.” It was just like… Anyway, but is that enough for a small business, just to say happy face, sad face?

Tom Scantlebury: What are you going to do with that? That’s the problem with those bloody signs you’ve got at customs. You have to measure “do kids press the red one or the green one?” It’s crap data. It doesn’t provide any kind of insights. The thing is, there’s two elements to it. It is important to have a metric because depending on how many you’re going to get back, then you can actually set some benchmarks and see if things are getting better or worse. But then it’s understanding, “What’s driving that?”

And that’s why there is some nuance to it. Survey design shouldn’t be long, should have a leading measurement, couple of driver questions, and then a verbatim piece. That’s really where people get the value, is like, “Okay, they gave us a score of 6 out of 10. Now, I can understand why.” There apparently are 27 human emotions. And those emotions are expressed in different ways by different people. But in the writing and how they write.

“I love you guys because of this.” or “It could’ve been better because of this piece.” And when people are unhappy, they’ll happily tell other people, give them the chance, they’ll tell you, “Well…” It is a bit of a blame. People can research and probably know a lot about the net promoter score.

Simon Dell: Yes. Matt, my business partner, talks about net promoter score all the time. 

Tom Scantlebury: It is the leading global metric. There’s also overall satisfaction. There’s customer effort. There are different key metrics, and it doesn’t… The research says it doesn’t matter what metric you pick, really. It’s not the biggest decision. It’s what you invest and wrap around that. Some of these platforms build surveys for you but you get feedback through review sites. The most accurate feedback is being hands-on and actually spending time with your customers. Cam was talking about his new role, and he’s going and meeting customers and talking to them about it. I mean, that’s not hard. And so, you can learn through all of these different ways as you scale up, getting something that can hit your computer, wherever you are on a daily basis. So, you’ve got your finger on the pulse. That is important.

Simon Dell: An email, a simple email that you can cut, and paste, and send to the next person or has a link to a SurveyMonkey…

Tom Scantlebury: That’s a personal… Depending on what you’re capable of doing, it’s not hard to send emails. And people don’t expect, “Hey, how was your experience in so and so? Let me know and you’ll get an email back.”

Simon Dell: Do you think people are honest in that? If I email someone and say, “What do you think of my business?” It’s like when the waitress comes around and after they’ve served you your steak… Perfect example, I sat at the Regatta Hotel the other week and had a steak with my wife, and asked for it medium rare. When it rocks up, it’s almost well done. And then the waitress stands next to you and goes, “Is everything alright?” And you just go, “Yeah, it’s fine.”

And you say it’s fine because you can’t be fucked waiting for another steak to be cooked and you don’t want to make a scene. That’s the flow onto this customer’s experience survey? I’ve got to have my car done at the mechanic and they haven’t done a very good job. Something’s still wrong with it. And then they send me an email, “Do I just…” Are people honest in those surveys or would it be better coming from a third party so that they don’t know it’s you giving that feedback?

Tom Scantlebury: When we represent third parties in experience management stuff, we brand it as them and it goes straight to them. We don’t take care of their experience. I think it’s 100% reasonable expected that it’s the business asking you for feedback. Now, in the moment, when you’re dealing with another person, all of those emotions are going through. And people, myself included, from time to time will be like, “I don’t want to cause a fuss. I just won’t come back here.”

Simon Dell: You of all people should be…

Tom Scantlebury: Well, I’m a human being with all of these emotions. And so, that’s quite natural in the moment. Now, given the opportunity to share that on my phone, wherever I am, people will be more honest. But often, they don’t expect anything to happen after that. So, are people honest? Well, people have a lot of survey fatigue so not everybody will fill in a survey. It all depends on how you present it, when you present it. There’s a little bit of nuance around doing that, but you do get a good representation.

And particularly, people that are unhappy, they happily share with you. Then the key is like these action loops. It’s really important to respond really quickly, almost immediate response so that you can trigger things to go… If it’s a low score, bang, you’re getting a sympathetic response. But then you need to take recovery steps, proactive recovery, resolve the service failure. So, do something about it.

I mean, there’s lots of research around you recover one unhappy customer, and you recover them really well, and they’ll become more of an advocate than somebody who just had a good experience. So, it’s a golden opportunity. If you stuff that up or don’t do anything, obviously they’re going and sharing it to 10 to 12 other people. That’s the second step.

The next one is about continuous improvement. So, using feedback, “Okay, let’s huddle each day. Let’s look at our feedback. What can we do better today? What can we do today to be better than yesterday?” And the last piece is about strategic change. “Okay, what are the things we can really do to improve or reduce the amount of times this particular thing happened?” 

I think a lot of marketers that might listen to this have been involved with customer experience because you guys are in the world of measuring things.

Simon Dell: It’s a natural. They fit well together, the same way as sales and marketing.

Tom Scantlebury: Often, CX efforts fall into marketing first. But then marketing needs to go and sell to other parts of the business, because I can see all these things that are broken but they’re not responsible for the operation, necessarily the products, that kind of thing. The key with any kind of effort is that it’s matched with action.

This is a stupid analogy, but the movie with Mel Gibson, What Women Want, it was on TV the other night. He can read women’s minds and he’s an advertising executive. And a woman comes in to take over his role or whatever. He can read everybody’s minds, and it turns out that everybody thinks he’s an absolute dick. And so, when you turn on your feedback, you can hear things that you don’t necessarily want to hear, but they were happening all along.

So, if you’re going to ask, if you’re going to find things out, then you must be prepared to act. And that’s usually a challenge, particularly if it’s a marketing effort, “Hey, we found this feedback. Guess what? You stink, and you stink, and you stink.” And then people are like, “Well, I don’t like this kind of stuff. I just want to focus on the things I can see that look great.” So, it is that whole continuous improvement stuff.

Simon Dell: My last question for you today, because it stems off something you said just in those points there. There’s an argument I read once that says, “Businesses should almost think about making deliberate mistakes in their dealings, in their customer experience with customers. Because making a deliberate mistake allows them to fix it and allows to deliver an even better experience than had they had a normal, great experience all the way through.”

It’s like that, something’s wrong with your hotel room and you ring up reception, and someone is there in two minutes and they fix it. And you go, “Oh, that service was great. How quick was that?” And then you go out with this little glow about how good that was. Whereas if you just turn up to the hotel room and everything was right, and then you had stayed in the hotel room and you left, you wouldn’t have that glow. 

So, I’ve read somewhere, and I wish I could remember where I read it, that there’s an argument to make deliberate… I think it was something about people building houses. I think it was builders who were building houses. There’s an argument that they should leave a few things deliberately not done properly so that the homeowner goes, “Hey, there’s three things that aren’t working properly.” Of course, the builders there, bang, next day fixes them without any problems and says, “Yeah, no extra charge. Sorry about that.” And then of course, the homeowner goes, “They were there, they attended to our every need.” Is that a viable tactic or is there too much risk in that kind of thing?

Tom Scantlebury: It’s interesting. It could work. I kind of think get everything right first, and put that effort into… Here’s the key, Simon. Experience isn’t made by human connections. Human connections create memories, and that’s what it’s all about. Now, you can create an impressive human connection through a service recovery, to design that into your journey. I see the merit in it and I see the logic. 

And absolutely, that could work. However, to design strong human connections into everything working, I think that there is probably more room to work in the whole. Say you’re the builder, you do defect inspection, put the red stickers on a couple places. Now, when you handover… This is the thing, my friend is a builder and he’s talking about, they handover the building, they don’t even turn up. Someone don’t turn up. And that’s the moment of truth.

Now, imagine if that guy is there and he says, “You’ll notice three green stickers. Now, what they are, they’re things which I don’t think are up to standard. We’ll arrange for somebody to come back within the next two weeks. Here’s the card. I’ll be in touch with you.” You’re not waiting for them to find it because they won’t ring. But that’s impressive. You’re drawing attention to something that’s not quite right but you’re showing empathy and care.

The fun part of this is that you spend the time really designing, “How can your experience be exceptional?” And then just keep tinkering with it and playing with it. That’s why it’s this whole journey that never ends. And you know what? The most satisfying thing about business is when you have delight of the customer. What that does is that drives purpose for the people that have worked and have been involved in that, and it’s purposeful work. Ultimately, that’s what I think we’re all trying to achieve.

Experience really does leverage and focus on what’s most important and most rewarding.

Simon Dell: That’s a good point to wrap it up all up. I’ve got two final questions for you. You’ve been in the hotel game for a long time prior to your current role. What’s your favourite hotel around the world? If you’re staying anywhere this weekend with no cost, where would you go? Feel free to choose one of your own brands.

Tom Scantlebury: You know what? Probably last year, I took my wife to the States and we stayed in an Airbnb. It was one bedroom on the back of a creek, 6-footer snow all around it, and our hosts were incredible and they came and took us to dinner. It’s actually a ski resort Robert Redford owns in Utah. 

We got really connected to this place, and I know you can do that in hotels. But a recent experience, that was incredible… However, just for Christmas, we went to Bali and stayed at Hotel Commune. I’m a surfer and Wayne, the manager there, has created the optimum environment for wives that don’t surf, families. People are amazing. You’ve got this beautiful pool right out of your room. I haven’t answered your question properly.

Simon Dell: No, that’s two good hotel recommendations. I think that was perfect. If people want to get a hold of you, what’s the best place to find you, or chat to you, or talk to you?

Tom Scantlebury: Love any conversation about experiences. It’s where it always starts. Tom Scantlebury on LinkedIn or

Simon Dell: Cool. Mate, it’s been fantastic. Thank you very much for your time today. It’s been a pleasure.

Tom Scantlebury: Great.

Simon Dell: Thank you.

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