The Hotel Butler - Recognizing the Value Butlers Bring to the Bottom Line
By Steven Ferry Chairman, International Institute of Modern Butlers | October 28, 2008
Where the butler concept fails, it is because he (or she) is cast in (frankly) degrading-to-the-profession roles such as "bath butler," "fireplace butler, "technology butler," "baby butler" (who provides rocking chairs and watches children), "dog butler," "ski butler," and "beach butler." The idea being, apparently, that anything offering superior service in some small area is called "a butler" in an effort to siphon some of the prestige of the profession. At best, the idea is myopic, at worst, self-defeating.
At least when the term valet was extended to "dumb valet," that furniture item upon which one lays out clothing for the following day, there was no pretence that this was the real item.
Fortunately for the profession, the public were not fooled or taken in by these "dumb butlers" and the practice has faded relatively rapidly-hopefully before it soured guests on the value of being serviced by (real) butlers in hotels. And fortunately so for the butlers working in top hotels around the world, who do justice to the profession, and the hotel managements who have recognized the value butlers bring to the bottom line and the repute of word of mouth for their establishments.
In an industry that is completely premised on the idea of service, and in which service is a key differentiator, it's a no-brainer to institute butler service. Butlers have always represented the pinnacle in service quality. After the initial required training, the running of a butler service is not much more expensive to provide than regular service, yet it allows rack rates to be raised and creates a loyal following of repeat visitors, as well as enhancing word of mouth and thus new business that make the investment most sound.
Instituting butler service can be done gradually, perhaps instituting it on one floor, and at not such a great cost, especially when considering the return on investment. Fifteen rooms can be well serviced by four butlers on three shifts, for instance, with one of them assigned as Head butler. If service is to be 24-hour, then a fifth butler would be needed.
Assuming an owner or manager decides to institute butler service, the next question is, "How?"