“So now you can come and pack my suitcase for me,” seems to be the classic response from all my friends when I tell them I’ve just finished my butler class at Nailert Butler School. Well I could, but that’s not what being an exquisitely-trained butler is about. Knowing how to set the table, care for shoes, and pack a suitcase is a must, and all of this is covered at Nailert Butler School, but what most people don’t know is how to care for guests and provide true service excellence. Under the expert tutelage of Gary Williams, Principal of the British Butler Institute at Nailert Butler School, I found out exactly how many hotels could raise their game.
Setting standards and adhering to them is what will set you apart from your competitors. If your hotels use certain language, have a certain dress code, use a certain table setup, or offer silver service, follow your standard no matter what.
I was on a plane from Samui to Bangkok. I had the aisle seat, another lady had the window seat, and my partner was in the middle, a thorn among roses. Yet when the cabin crew came round with the drinks, they served him first! My only guess is either he’s better looking than me and the other lady, or he’s a man – a Western man – and I’m only an Asian woman. I can’t stress this point enough because this is something I’ve experienced throughout my career, especially in Asia. But a professional server attends to ladies and children first, no matter the social status, race, or looks.
Strange though it may seem, lazy people end up with double the workload. My dad used to tell me a story about a man who asked his staff to tell him how many puppies his dog had just given birth to. The man came back and replied, “Five, Sir.” Then the boss asked how many males and females. The poor guy ran back and counted, then returned and explained, “Three male and two female, Sir.” Then the boss asked about the puppies’ colors, and once again the man had to run and check. This pattern sounds all too familiar, so when a guest orders a drink, ask specific questions. If they want vodka cranberry, ask if they want house vodka or any brand specific, single shot, double, or triple. Some guests will even tell you how many ice cubes they want, so when in doubt, simply ask, “How do you like it Sir/Madam?”
“Double shot of Grey Goose, with two big ice cubes, and cranberry juice on the side?” And then add, “Would that be all, Sir?” It shows that you care, you are here to please, and it will save you time in the long run in case the guest forgets something and calls you back again.
There are times when you ask hotel staff for a recommendation and they just can’t tell you. It is therefore a good idea for hotel staff, especially a concierge or butler, to be prepared to make recommendations to guests, and I’m not talking about suggesting your guests go Google it. Invest in checking the surroundings of your area, make friends of those nearby restaurant owners and managers, try their food and services, and put yourself in a position to make a genuine recommendation.
One thing I despise is those resorts where staff greet guests with, “Hey Guys!!!!” No! I’m not at TGIF and no, I’m not your friend. Yet even in more formal setting, quite often by the third day of your stay you’re on friendly terms with the staff and they start to ask those personal questions – “You must be staying in hotels all the time?” or “You must be getting paid a lot?” In service, one can be friendly, but you should never be too familiar. Always remain professional.
Do everything gracefully. There is nothing more irritating than dealing with staff who don’t know what they’re doing, don’t do it well, don’t speak up, and lack confidence. Confidence shows that a person is competent, and people feel at ease when dealing with staff who appear to be confident. Staff should be trained in manner, posture, gesture, how to approach the guests, how to speak, and the language to use. For example, if you lend a guest your pen and see they’re about to slip it in their pocket and walk away with it, understatement beats confrontation every time if you want to get it back with causing a scene. “Excuse me Sir, I wonder if I might borrow my pen,” should do the trick.
People who take pride in what they do and love what they do are happier than those who don’t. It’s not rocket science. If you hate your job, find something else to do. If you see your staff looking miserable of the job you gave them, maybe it’s time to find them a different role because there’s no amount of training from world-class schools that can make a difference when the attitude is wrong. This is an industry of passion, and as a guest I want to see that passion. Indeed, many guests are paying big bucks for that passion, so keep it fired up.
For more information visit http://nailertbutler.com