A new season for service across the board

Four Seasons Hotels across the Middle East are set to offer a new level of service to guests with the local introduction of a newly created global standard.
A new season for service across the board
By Administrator
Mon 14 Apr 2008 04:00 AM

Four Seasons Hotels across the Middle East are set to offer a new level of service to guests with the local introduction of a newly created global standard.

Four Seasons Hotel Doha hotel manager Sven Wiedenhaupt said the company had long-standing service standards - with some variations for local cultural considerations - but had recently embarked on an in-depth programme to update the standards.

"The growth of the company, and the evolution of the hospitality industry, has meant that we need to modify and grow with it," he explained.

"The customers were indirectly telling us, and we were realising, that there was an evolution that was happening, and is happening, and will continue to evolve."

"Around the world there was a task force for different regions, and each individual hotel was asked to test the validity and applicability of the standards. We were sitting down with each property, with each department, and going through line-by-line working out if the standards needed to be changed, or modified, and if the meaning was still applicable."

The result is a new programme, called 'Guest Experience 2008', which has three fundamental concepts: get it right, get me right, wow me if you can.

Wiedenhaupt believes Four Seasons staffs already exhibit many of the characteristics of the new standards, and that the introduction of the new standards will empower staff to follow their instincts.

"Wowing the guest is a translation of empowerment and trust - the staffs are going to become more comfortable, and realise what it takes to wow a guest," he said.

"Rather than having a checklist of what they must be doing, they now are free to do whatever they think they should be doing for that guest at that particular point in time."

Assistant laundry manager Allen Tang said the standards were already applied in everyday operations.

"I was making up a room, and the guest had taken out four pillows and just left one on the bed," he said.

"So I am not going to put back all the pillows, as per our standards, I'm going to give him what he wants. But then we are going to put that in his profile, and when he comes back in three months we will set it up the way he likes it, and he will be impressed we have gone to that effort."

Front office management trainee Cecile Cabaret said: "It is not something that is totally new - we have always had the service passion and been able to wow guests - it is just about trusting people to feel what the situation is and do whatever it is to make the guests happy".

"It makes us happy, when we see little things that we can make better and the guest comes up to say 'thank-you'," she explained.

"It gives you an opportunity to shine and grow. And it is a two-way thing: guests will be happier, and staff will be happier."

The new service standards explainedGet it right: It is about getting the technical and the basic elements correct. For example, how to make a cappuccino, how to make a bed, checking someone in and out. The guest has a right to expect us to ‘get it right' - it is the fundamental reason they are here.

Get me right: This is about getting it right for each guest personally. For example, understanding that I don't take milk with my coffee, and ensuring that people are aware of that, so I don't keep getting asked if I want milk.

It's an intuitive element, but then it is important to communicate it and put it into the system so that the next time the guest comes that we are able to repeat it.

Wow me if you can: The last part is what makes Four Seasons unique, and it is going to make us even better. A real life example is an employee at a hotel where a bride was staying, and she wanted to print out her speech for her wedding.

The software she used wasn't available, but the employee took it upon himself to leave the hotel, go to a local merchant and get the software, print the speech, then take it to the church and deliver the speech before the wedding - without the bride realising he was doing it.

It's about taking extra steps, and recognising when there is an opportunity to take things further.

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