Creative Strategies for Maintaining Training Quality without Busting the Budget
By Steven Ferry Chairman, International Institute of Modern Butlers | July 08, 2012
Since the publication early last year of The Butler is here to Stay, but will the Guests be Happy Driving Fords?, a noticeable trend has been observable in the hospitality industry toward the serious training of butlers and the establishment or improvement of butler programs or imparting superior butler service levels in guest-facing positions.
In the wake of mass affluents pulling back on their vacations and businesses also restricting budgets to deal with increased costs of business travel, the tourist industry has had to be even more creative in providing perceived value for money to attract guests in an environment where facilities and pricing do not differ materially within any one category-all while staying within their own restricted budgets.
With trainers similarly concerned with providing what the industry needs, hotels and even cruise lines have found a way to meet in the middle where all can win, from owner to investor, guest to management, butler to training company. It is this spirit of cooperation, rather than each party being totally intent on securing an advantage, that underlies or characterizes the smartness being applied.
Assuming a full and proper curriculum is offered, inclusive of provision of SOPs and classroom and en-suite hands-on training and apprenticeship, and the establishment where needed of an efficiently run department, then trainers have to be brought in who actually have worked as butlers in private estates and preferably also hotels, and know how to pass on their wisdom and skills effectively to trainees from a wide range of cultural backgrounds.
This then involves travel costs, because no butler training operations have an office in every country or state. These travel costs are reduced by the training company and/or hotel reaching out to hotels and resorts in nearby cities, states, or countries (or even the same city) to share in the travel costs by scheduling training sequentially. Resorts and hotels tend to be more comfortable knowing that the partners are in a neighboring country rather than the hotel next door, but this has not prevented competitors from collaborating to their mutual advantage in our experience.
The main difficulties are a) simply pushing through the various administrative details needed to obtain approvals and funding in a timely fashion from different hotels and their hierarchies, and b) then coordinating scheduling. The former just requires someone excited about the project and staying on top of requests for a rapid confirmation. The latter is not so difficult, as regions tend to have the same low seasons when training would be arranged normally.