Brand Butler: Infusing the Butler Mindset into Brands

By Steven Ferry Chairman, International Institute of Modern Butlers | July 23, 2010

Despite national media attention, the Ritz Carlton South Beach has had a perennial problem keeping its “Tanning Butlers” over the past seven years that it has offered this service: modeling agencies keep snapping them up.

Hotels interested in attracting the wealthier set have been creative for the last two decades in leveraging the cachet (prestige) of the butler: nanny butler, fireplace butler, technology butler, pool butler, dog butler, and maybe you have others to add. All positions characterized by the offering of a narrowly defined service that has nothing to do with butlers, but the implication being that the same level of service is provided.

At the same time, the International Institute of Modern Butlers, as the guardian, so to speak, of the standards of butling, has been busy decrying this dilution of the butler name into a commercial opportunity. The Institute offered the Hotel Butler Rating system precisely to differentiate the serious efforts of hotels with real butler service from these “wannabes, ” so that guests would be clear on the degree of butler service being offered by any hotel they planned to visit.

The irony is that the Institute has also reached beyond the narrow confines of its own profession, and its cousin, the hospitality industry. With a persistent, some might say unwelcome, drum beat over the last six years, the need to export the mindset of the butler to all service industries (any business or organization, large or small, - whether government bureaucracy, hospital, airline or hotel staffs, etc.- wherever one person provides another with a product or service) has been developed. It is the best return-strategy for improvement of the service experience and increasing the loyalty of clients, guests, customers, patients, etal.

A case of wanting to have one’s cake and eat it, too?

The Butler Goes Mainstream

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.