Puttin' on the Ritz

May 01, 2015 | 2028 Views

Puttin' on the Ritz

Patrick Yearout, FMP, CHT

Director of Innovation, Recruiting, and Training | Ivar's & Kidd Valley Restaurants

How do you measure the quality of a hotel?  For some people, it has to do with the physical elements of the property: spacious guest rooms, lavish decor, or thick walls to keep noise at a minimum.  For others, it has to do with the amenities: luxurious linens on the beds, 24-hour room service to cater to their every whim, or an upscale spa where they can melt away their cares.  And for some guests, it has to do with the location; they want something that will be within walking distance to a city’s stores, restaurants, and nightlife.

Luckily for us CHART members, the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans is wonderful no matter how you measure it.  This property, the site of our 90th Hospitality Training Conference this summer, is located right in the heart of The Big Easy, only a block away from the world-famous Bourbon Street and surrounded by restaurants with delicious Southern cuisine.  The rooms at the Ritz-Carlton are amazingly appointed, with large comfy beds that you will want to take home with you, and the building is filled with a classic elegance that you don’t often find in newer hotels.  Everything is simply top-notch, right down to the hand soap you will find in the restrooms (I kid you not; it’s truly awesome!).

But as good as all that is, the hotel wouldn’t rate highly for me if the people who worked there weren’t top-notch as well.  You see, I measure the quality of a hotel by the level of hospitality provided by its workers, just like I measure the quality of a restaurant more about the service than its location, its furniture, or even its food.  For me, the memorable part of a hotel stay has to do with the connection the staff members attempt to make with me, and I don’t just mean the greeting by the desk clerk when I check in, but the interactions I have with all the employees throughout my visit.  I want to feel special, and pampered, and taken care of when I am away from the comforts of my own home.

So how did the staff members measure up at the New Orleans Ritz-Carlton?  I’m happy to report that I was so well-treated during the CHART Board’s recent pre-con visit that I cannot wait to return this July for Conference #90.  From the moment that I checked in, when Angie thoughtfully made it a point to alert me to keep my room card handy as it would be needed in the elevator to get to my floor, to the check-out process when I shared a few laughs and a wistful goodbye with Theressa, I was overwhelmed by the attentiveness, professionalism, and caring attitude of the ladies and gentlemen who worked there.  Tupper didn’t just say hello as I walked to the elevator; he offered to help carry my meeting supplies and push the elevator button for me.  Adrienne didn’t just answer my question about where I could get a Diet Coke; she went and found one for me.  And Thomas didn’t just apologize when my wake-up call didn’t arrive; he offered the hotel’s car service to me in case I was running late and needed to get somewhere in a hurry.

I could easily provide you with another dozen examples of employees going above and beyond to assist me, but let me just sum up by saying there’s simply no other place I would consider staying in New Orleans now that I’ve been to the Ritz-Carlton.  I want to return to this incredible oasis of hospitality not only because I enjoyed my visit as a guest, but also to learn what I can from these engaged and engaging employees who seem to already know what I need before I do.  It’s this level of care – meeting the unexpressed wishes of those visiting – that I want to figure out how to duplicate back at my own company so that Ivar’s customers will become raving fans of our brand as well.

If you also want to experience this extraordinary level of guest service first-hand, while simultaneously investing in your career as a hospitality trainer, then consider puttin’ on the Ritz with us this July 18-21 for CHART’s 90th Hospitality Training Conference.  Registration is already open on the CHART website (www.chart.org), and a reduced attendance fee is available if you sign up by June 18.  Our discounted hotel room block rate ends on June 19.

I look forward to seeing you ‘at the Ritz!’

This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of FlipCHART.

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