Creativity & Passion Keys to Wowing and Returning Guests
By Steven Ferry Chairman, International Institute of Modern Butlers | April 06, 2014
Training at five-star resorts around the world offers a window seat into the more-refined sector of creativity and the achievements of those who are constantly striving to enthrall guests-guests with ever-rising expectations driven largely by access to an ever-expanding field promising and delivering equally exceptional experiences-and so move beyond merely satisfied guests into the heady domain of delighted guests who return again and again, friends in tow. The following anecdotal observations of effective initiatives being undertaken at the sumptuous end of hospitality are just that: neither official and sanctioned statements nor measured analyses with scientific conclusions; they do, however, have the advantage of a cross-chain perspective filtered through the prism of a butler's luxury service mindset-with the same basic stresses and initiatives being relevant, equally, to three- and four-star environments.
Life Loves Life
Few GMs will argue whether friendly and professional service holds as much, if not more, sway in guest satisfaction as a splendid location and a wide array of quality facilities. As much as robot manufacturers strive for the ultimate robot that will make butlers and other service professionals obsolete, the warm and fuzzy truth is that people are people and like to be treated not just with mechanical efficiency, but also intelligence and empathy-by other life forms, in other words. Herein lies a key challenge for hotels and resorts: making live and friendly guest interaction the norm, as opposed to throwaway communications that betray a lack of real interest and engagement. Smarter GMs have recognized this hidden guest turn-off and engaged in training to remedy it.
Pursuing the same goal of increased "life quotient" amongst employees, some GMs have turned to the butling profession-not necessarily because they are more alive, but because, as life units, their mere presence provides life: Until the advent of butlers in hotels a couple of decades ago, the opportunities for face time/guest interaction and developing a special rapport/relationship were limited to brief guest experiences spread out over specific outlets and activities.
Exceptional individuals do transcend this brief opportunity to shine and create a loyal following (the author still remembers fondly being serviced a decade ago by a fine-dining waiter named Terry at the Lautrec restaurant in Pennsylvania, for his passion, even rapture, and the live rather-than-canned communication this generated).
Butlers servicing guests properly in suites open up a tremendous amount of extra services and thus face time and life. The convenience of having someone manage all the logistics of staying in a hotel or resort and most importantly, seeing to any problems; someone who knows and follows guest likes and dislikes-these all add a tremendous amount of value to the guest experience, as well as the opportunity to form a bond that is a strong pull for repeat visits, whether on the initiative of the guest or the suggestion of a butler who is valued and respected.