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How Ritz-Carlton Maintains its Mystique

Business Week (USA) , February 13, 2007


When you think of luxury hotels, a few brands come to mind. Among them is the Ritz-Carlton. The hotel has established a worldwide reputation for treating guests like royalty. Walk into any Ritz-Carlton hotel in the world and you will be greeted by a staff that works at making customer service an art.

Each day at every Ritz-Carlton around the world, employees from every department gather for a 15-minute meeting, known as a "lineup," to review guest experiences, resolve issues, and discuss ways to improve service. These lineups are unlike most meetings held on any given day in most corporations. Once basic housekeeping items are out of the way, most of the rest of the time is spent reinforcing one of the 12 service values.

How is it done? By employing the most powerful communications technique available: storytelling.

During the lineup, someone reads what is known as the "wow story" of the day. The same story is shared across hotels in 21 countries. The stories single out a staff person who went above and beyond—offering exemplary service to help create the mystique that turns luxury travelers into repeat guests.

One wow story: A family staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Bali, had carried specialized eggs and milk for their son who suffered from food allergies. Upon arrival, they saw that the eggs had broken and the milk had soured. The Ritz-Carlton manager and dining staff searched the town but could not find the appropriate items. But the executive chef at this particular resort remembered a store in Singapore that sold them. He contacted his mother-in-law, and asked that she buy the products and fly to Bali to deliver them, which she agreed to do. Of course the family was delighted. After an experience like that, do you think this particular family would even consider staying somewhere else?

Subjects Covered: business

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