Mandarin Oriental

Reducing employee churn with best-in-class employee experience

After entering a period of rapid property expansion, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group wanted to evaluate how digital could solve key operational challenges, while improving staff retention and efficiency.

The Vision

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group wanted to digitise their employee experience in the changing hospitality landscape. Their vision was to provide an online one-stop solution for staff to manage all components of their daily role, view their schedule and empower them to change their shifts when needed. The new solution needed to offer a seamless employee experience that boosts engagement, productivity and satisfaction; and meets the vision of increased efficiency, retention and staff empowerment.

Industry Landscape

The service sector has always had challenges in retaining staff. With the rise of digital, power has shifted back to the consumer – and poor online ratings for a hotel can be very damaging. Modern employees need solutions that are accessible on the move and aid – rather than detract from – delivering a superb guest experience. Providing digital tools that make employees’ daily tasks easier will help businesses boost their staff satisfaction and happiness.


At a time of rapid property expansion, Mandarin Oriental faced a challenge of high employee churn driven by poor employee experience and low staff satisfaction. The global staff turnover was high, sitting at 38%, particularly at a middle management level. The antiquated and complex systems meant Mandarin Oriental struggled to recruit a younger workforce. And with high dependence on manual, paper-based processes, there was a big room for error – and a small room for growth.

Mandarin Oriental’s technical challenge laid in legacy software. Their platforms showed significant complexity embedded within several different desktop-based systems, with limited integration between systems utilised by the Front of House teams or those powering the majority of processes for the Back of House, such as scheduling or payroll.

The group approached Somo to help evaluate their current internal processes and learn how digital technology could help solve three different challenges: employee onboarding, communication, and scheduling.


Somo partnered with Mandarin Oriental for a 5-week product conception phase – a rapid, collaborative process for designing, prototyping and validating a product concept, working hand in hand to explore their business challenge and provide a viable technology solution.

The journey started in Las Vegas, where a diverse team of Somo experts and Mandarin Oriental staff gathered to take a deeper look at the business challenges, current technology and processes, and key employee pain points.

Following a number of shadowing exercises and in-depth qualitative interviews with hotel staff from a range of different departments, we were packed with insights needed to ideate on the digital solution that solves Mandarin Oriental’s key challenges.

The prototype was then tested in the live working environment, with a follow-up survey to gauge staff sentiment and validate the product concept. The feedback has been tremendous.

Business Outcomes

We delivered a clickable prototype of an iOS app for all staff, digitising various paper-based boards created daily in the hotel and integrating several tools to allow employees to plan schedules, receive notifications, view the internal social network and watch compliance training videos.

The prototype was coupled with a technical and architectural plan that defined a new centralised mobile platform – a one-stop-shop for staff, offering a seamless employee experience that boosts engagement, productivity and satisfaction; and meets the vision of increased efficiency, retention and staff empowerment.


  • 94%
    of Mandarin Oriental staff believed our solution would improve their work day
  • 88%
    said it would improve their efficiency