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A warm yet refined brand of service
IN AN industry where consumers are spoilt for choice, the Ritz-Carlton has managed to adhere to a level of service that is renowned throughout the world. At the heart of this achievement is the hotel's staff, affectionately known as their "Ladies and Gentleman", who carry out the arduous task of ensuring that the organisation's levels of service are never compromised. Among other things, this involves anticipating the "unexpressed" wishes and needs of the guests, explains Mark Fletcher, director of Human Resources, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.
Describing the hotel's brand of hospitality as "warm yet refined", he notes that the staff is guided by a credo which places the genuine care and comfort of guests as their highest mission.
"A stay at The Ritz-Carlton goes beyond simply providing a bed for guests to rest their heads during their travels; we endeavour to create indelible memories for our guests that will last well beyond their stay with us. We are in the business of creating Ritz-Carlton guests for life," he says.
Employees are trained to "own and immediately resolve guest problems" and are empowered to move "heaven and earth" to satisfy guests, Mr Fletcher adds.
To ensure that staff members carry out their duties properly, the Ritz-Carlton puts a premium on employee welfare. Among other initiatives, it has instituted "Fun Fridays", regular department and division team-building activities, quarterly employee recognition awards and opportunities to learn and grow through community initiatives. "I believe that when we engage our Ladies and Gentlemen at an emotional level, they will engage our customers in the same way," says Mr Fletcher.
He adds: "We adopt an open-door policy within the organisation which actually works; our Ladies and Gentlemen are encouraged to engage their leaders in conversation or for guidance, at any time of day."
To help inspire staff, employees are also encouraged to write a "WOW" story whenever they observe a colleague going above and beyond the call of duty to delight a guest. The exercise not only aims to recognise employees for excellent service but is also used as a tool for motivating employees to learn from each other.
Best practices from Ritz-Carlton properties around the world are also shared through a tool known as "The Lion's Share".
Despite its success, the organisation is mindful that it has to continually improve to stay ahead of the competition. Among other initiatives, the hotel will be implementing a "Take Care Well Being" initiative this year, which involves organising various events to nourish the Body, Mind and Spirit of the staff.
In an effort to connect to its millennial guests, the hotel is also increasing its digital footprint by enhancing features in the Ritz-Carlton mobile application. Apart from mobile check-in and check-out functions, which are already available, it is piloting a project that enables guests to make food and beverage orders through the app.
Later in the year, it will be launching the "Ritz Kids Night Safari" while its inaugural "Super Series" will feature four special hotel events this year; with one held every quarter. The 14th edition of SuperBrunch will kick off this year's "Super Series" on Sunday, March 13.
The hotel is also keenly aware of the challenges it faces in attracting the right talent and ensuring that they receive sufficient training. The highly competitive labour market for talent, and finding the right people to fit specific roles within the organisation are just some of the obstacles it faces in this area, says Mr Fletcher.
In terms of training, the hotel tries to overcome the time crunch for learning and training hours through condensing topics into bite-size pieces spread over several sessions instead of taking its staff out of operations for a full day of training.
Says Mr Fletcher: "Even as one of the top hospitality brands in the world, we need to ensure we do not rest on our laurels and allow complacency to seep in. The Ritz-Carlton consistently drives innovation and ensures high levels of service excellence through regular internal and external audits, and guest feedback."
The Ritz-Carlton way
HERE are some of the initiatives that the Ritz-Carlton has put in place to ensure that its staff is equipped to deliver its renowned level of service.
- The hotel conducts daily departmental line-ups - made up of 15-minute briefing sessions before the start of each day or shift - which help it reinforce its service culture and commitment, and serve as a platform for communicating information and ideas.
- All new hires attend a compulsory two-day orientation programme. The onboarding programme spans a year with various learning milestones along the way.
- All departments have a designated "Learning Coach" who is an extension of the learning and development function of the Human Resources Department. The Learning Coaches help orientate new hires and are responsible for driving continuous learning opportunities within the department.
- Various hotel and operational data as well as guest feedback collected by the Quality department also help the Learning and Development team determine relevant training topics to enhance the level of service that the staff provide.