We respect and take into account the views and needs of all of our stakeholders, recognising that good corporate governance and stakeholder engagement are crucial for long-term growth and successful business performance.
We communicate regularly with our guests via focus groups and surveys. After each break, guests are given the opportunity to complete a guest satisfaction survey, known as ‘Delivering Excellent Service’ (DES). This survey measures guest satisfaction in a number of areas, such as accommodation, facilities, amenities and service. The results determine an overall DES score for each village, and departments/units within the village. The DES score is used to constantly improve service and tailor our offering to our guests. The survey is managed by an external company to ensure independence. Engaging with our guests is key to achieving our purpose and strategy.
Various methods of engagement are used for colleagues including Employee Councils, which meet quarterly to discuss issues and concerns with a Director. The Board receives feedback from the Employee Councils on a regular basis and acts on issues of concern. Employee engagement surveys are undertaken every two years and drive ongoing engagement activities, helping to formulate the KPIs for the coming years, and ad hoc surveys are conducted to assess specific topics e.g. returning to work following furlough and returning to working in an office environment. All employees receive a regular newsletter via email which shares both corporate and location-specific news and information, and annual Communications Forums give employees the opportunity to hear the company results, understand the direction for the year ahead and to ask questions of the Chief Executive and Directors in face-to-face sessions at each village. All employees also have access to an independent Whistleblowing Hotline, where anonymous reports of unethical behaviour or misconduct can be made at any time.
Critical supplier contracts are considered by the Board and Operating Board, following initial consultations with the Procurement and Commercial teams, and reviewed annually. Suppliers are required to comply with our Procurement and Ethical Trading Policy, which requires them to demonstrate that they operate within industry standards, uphold human rights, prohibit modern slavery and promote sustainable sourcing. Our modern slavery statement and payment practices report are approved by the Board and published externally. Senior managers regularly meet with key suppliers to discuss account management and ensure our strategies are aligned. Performance is reported to the Risk Committee and, when necessary, the Board. An annual gala event is traditionally held for suppliers who have gone above and beyond their requirements for the business.
As a sustainable business, we seek to benefit and improve the communities in which we operate by sourcing local services and produce wherever possible. We aim to minimise our impact on the environment and local communities and encourage biodiversity in our forests and the wider area. We understand the importance of working closely with local suppliers and communities.
We have a proud history of supporting charities that make a difference to families and which share our ethos of bringing, and keeping, families together. Our charity partner in the UK is Together for Short Lives, who have a network of hospices which our colleagues volunteer and fundraise for. Our charity partner in Ireland is Barretstown, who provide residential camps for children with serious illnesses and their families. When booking a break, guests in the UK have the option to make a donation to Together for Short Lives and guests in Ireland have the option to donate to Barretstown – the company then match funds these donations.
The Board works hard to ensure the shareholder and their representatives have a good understanding of our strategy, business model and culture through a range of channels including regular reporting and visits to our villages. The Executive Directors are the primary communication route for the shareholder. Quarterly reporting on strategic objectives, financial targets and other significant matters are provided to the shareholder for governance and for Sarbanes Oxley purposes. The Board is required to obtain shareholder approval for significant capital projects over a certain amount. We also provide quarterly reports to bondholders, and bondholder managers are given the opportunity to ask questions of the Chief Financial Officer during half-yearly conference calls.