The Power of Personal Service

Industry Perspectives:
A white paper series from Cornell University

The Power of Personal Service: Why It Matters What Makes It Possible How It Creates Competitive Advantage

Download a white paper on the hotel chain's commitment to delivering exceptional personal service.

Even though this article is a few years old, it is still very much applicable today. A copy is also available for your reading pleasure upon request.


A closer look at service in action helps explain why that is so, and also why it is so difficult to deliver. It has been estimated that in a 200- to 300-room luxury hotel, there will be as many as 5,000 interactions between guests and staff per day; in other words, thousands of opportunities for high performance or for mishap.

Isadore Sharp, Chairman of Four Seasons:

We can’t pre-check service or sample it—pro- duction and consumption are simultaneous. Those few moments of service delivery are a company’s make or break point, when reputa- tion is either confirmed or denied. And the outcome in our industry normally depends on front-line employees: doormen, bellmen, waiters, housekeepers—the lowest paid people, and often, in too many companies, the least motivated. Most companies hire for experience and appearance, how the applicants fit the company image. We hire for attitude. We want people who like other people and are, therefore, more motivated to serve them. Competence we can teach. Attitude is ingrained.

Most important factors in choosing a luxury hotel

• The hotel offers impeccable service
• The hotel is welcoming
• The hotel is consistent in providing an experience that meets or exceeds my needs
• Offers an overall hotel experience that I would enjoy very much
• Offers service that is truly personal, recognizing the needs of the individual
• Offers service that leaves me feeling understood, pampered and rejuvenated


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