So What Is a Butler, Anyway?

By Steven Ferry Chairman, International Institute of Modern Butlers | October 28, 2008

It seems butlers are really not just for the wealthy in their private estates, but also for their convenience when they travel.

So, in providing butler service, a pertinent question might be "What exactly is a butler?" Or more to the point, "What are butlers in a hotel setting?" They obviously are more than the dog, beach, computer, baby, and bath butlers that rushed out fully armed from marketing departments during the 1990s and beat a hasty retreat in the face of public disdain.

The answer is very clear to those hotel executives who have brought in any one of a handful of trainers able to teach their personnel how to "butle." Anyone who has read Hotel Butlers, The Great Service Differentiators, will know that there is a technology and mindset to butling. It is something that can be learned to jump-start an individual in the Middle East, the Far East, the East Coast or the West Coast of America, the Caribbean, and anywhere else in the art of butling British style.

In addition to the dozen-or-less trainers working on site at hotels, there are a dozen-or-less schools around the world teaching strangers to the art of butling the skills and panache needed to fulfill their roles with sufficient aplomb. There is no shortage of resources for anyone wanting their employees trained to the high standards of service that the butler exemplifies.

In recognition of the increased demand for butlers, and the subsequent need to train butlers, and even non-butler staff in the mindset of the butler so as to raise service standards throughout hospitality venues (be they hotel, resort, spa, or private villa), a handful of industry professionals have formed the International Institute of Modern Butlers.

The Institute purpose being to promote training in the butler model, to act as a clearinghouse for butler training resources around the world, and to help set and raise standards in the profession. It being recognized that, like any profession, butlers need standards and a standard-setting body to prevent the profession from becoming less than it should be.

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