How to Promote Five-Star Service in the Luxury Hotel Market

By Mehdi Eftekari General Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills | May 05, 2013

Service often makes the difference between a fine hotel and a memorable hotel. With its personalized customer service, intuitive staff and cheerful culture, Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills has made a memorable impression on its guests for the last twenty-five years.

By employing caring and thoughtful staff who make guests feel comfortable and important from the moment they check- in, we promote five-star service through our best asset – our people. Employees are hired based on their attitude and "hospitality personality" not their experience. They are adept at reading guests' emotions, looking at their habits and actively anticipating their needs, which enhances each guest interaction. These intangible qualities are what make our property uniquely attractive to guests and leave them with a positive impression when they leave.

As part of the standards that we instill at our hotel, reservation agents are encouraged to gather as much information as possible in order to personalize the booking process. This allows us to create personalized welcome amenities for guests celebrating special occasions, during awards season or traveling with children. For unique requests, the Four Seasons Concierge team is available to coordinate fun activities such as helicopter rides, VIP tours of Warner Bros. Studios or even surf lessons. Our catering team will go above and beyond what's expected by providing complimentary and personalized printed menus for private events, and our rooms division will happily reconfigure the layout of a room to suit guests' particular needs. This level of flexibility and attention to detail are hotel features that guests love.

Our mantra is, "We'll do anything that's asked of us, as long as it's legal!"

From a leadership perspective at the Four Seasons, five-star service is about a mentality, a way of working and most of all, a healthy disdain for anything mediocre. Mistakes are always reviewed to avoid future issues and follow through is always done. The best employees are recognized monthly and everyone works as though they have a personal stake in the property and part of a large extended family. The leadership team challenges their employees to further improve and not only adhere to basic standards, but to view customer service as an overall mindset.

Recognition is also imperative in the luxury hotel industry. We make a point of referring to our guests by name whether in person or by phone to invoke a feeling of warmth and friendliness. A beautiful entry and stunning restaurant ambiance are both lovely amenities, but it is the recognition and warm greetings given to guests that set our service apart from other hotels. By focusing on the soft skills of service such as recognition, eye contact or smiling, we are able to connect with our guests and provide standard services in a unique way.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.