The Ritz-Carlton: A Tradition of Storytelling

Storytelling is an important part of The Ritz-Carlton culture. The employees of The Ritz-Carlton—known as The Ladies and Gentlemen—write up special moments and share them with the corporate office. These write-ups are called “Wow” stories, and several thousand stories are collected each year. “Wow” stories can happen when Ladies and Gentlemen interact with customers, residents, colleagues, and even during community service events.

What transforms an ordinary moment into a “Wow” story is genuine care that fulfills a need. Some of the “Wow” stories are about simple, small gestures, and some of the stories are about grand and creative acts.

Sharing Stories of Service

Each week two “Wow” stories are communicated during Daily Line-Up—a meeting that includes every Lady and Gentleman around the world. “Wow” stories are shared for multiple reasons. The stories:

  • illustrate how The Ritz-Carlton culture is enlivened
  • reinforce our collective purpose
  • demonstrate how colleagues are fulfilling the service value, “I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.”

The stories also help to instill pride and passion. The “Wow” story below was recently shared at Daily Line-Up and is a great example of why our Ladies and Gentlemen are proud to say, “I am Ritz-Carlton.”

A Recent “Wow” Story

A guest came for an extended stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common while he underwent a series of medical procedures at a local hospital. His wife had accompanied him to the hotel to care for him and assist him during his stay. Their stay lasted for several weeks and while the wife was clearly glad to be with her husband, the Ladies and Gentlemen could tell that she was exhausted.

During one of the nights of their stay, the wife approached the front desk and spoke with the Front Desk Agent. The wife asked to book a second room for the following night so that she could watch the “71st Golden Globe Awards” without disturbing her husband’s rest.

Creating a “Wow” Moment

Knowing that the past few weeks had been difficult for the wife, the Front Desk Agent wanted to do something that would help her relax and enjoy the night. He planned to turn one of the deluxe rooms into a personal VIP Golden Globes viewing party. Luckily his fellow Front Desk Agent had worked at the Golden Globes awards ceremony in the past, and helped him create an authentic Golden Globes experience. Together, they created a gift bag similar to the ones given to the actors and actresses. They even took the time to create and send a special VIP invitation to the guest’s room. The Guest Relations Supervisor helped the Front Desk Agent decorate the room with flowers, Golden Globe magazines, gold and white balloons and a red carpet made of fresh red rose petals. For the final touches, they placed champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries and popcorn for her to enjoy while she watched the show.

When the Front Desk Agent escorted the wife to her room, she was astonished. She tearfully told him that the past year had been very difficult with her husband’s health and other illnesses within her family. She repeatedly thanked the Front Desk Agent and told him that he had made her year. She could not believe the hotel would go to such lengths for her. Her husband even came to enjoy some of the party and was thrilled by the gesture the Ladies and Gentlemen had made for his wife. Throughout the night, the wife would call down to the front desk and update the Front Desk Agent on the results of the evening, each time thanking him again for everything he had done.

The Impact of Storytelling

Imagine starting your workday by hearing a “Wow” story like the above—a story that shows the dedication and authentic kindness of your colleagues. Organizations that commit to storytelling create positive work environments that stimulate employee engagement. Not only that—they help spread happiness, and doesn’t that make everyone’s life a little better? 

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.