Service Magic: Practicing the Art of Amazing Your Guests

In this guest blog post, Chip R. Bell, a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books, shares his unique perspective on a guest story from The Ritz-Carlton. Chip’s newest book is “Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service.”

The Art of Service Magic

The creation of a memorable, positive guest experience—service so unique that it takes the guest by surprise and leaves them with a story to tell or tweet—is strikingly parallel in structure to fine stage magic. Just as a skilled stage magician is the master of audience enhancement, the service magician brings a touch of charm and delight to his or her guest’s day … even if just for the moment.

Service magic, like stage magic, is a set of skills developed through desire and mastered through thought and determination. Service magic separates the food carrier from the professional waiter or waitress who has a devoted clientele; the hair cutter from the personal stylist with an avid following. The service magician takes pleasure in the pleasure of others and in the practice of skillful service. Making the difficult appear easy draws applause for the stage magician; it draws gratitude for the service magician.

Tricks of the Trade

Practitioners of service magic understand that the art of enchantment is more than a pocket full of tricks and a velvet bag of illusions. It requires an understanding of timing, presentation and situation. Most importantly, it takes a deep understanding of the audience and what method of magic will bring the best pleasure. One powerful technique for service enchantment is what stage magicians refer to as misdirection (or direction).

Misdirection is the art of establishing a frame of reference or stating a premise that occupies audience attention while something different is happening. It is a fundamental of magic: the magician who gestures and looks off to the left or right of the audience is almost always moving the audience’s attention to where the trick (magicians call them effects or illusions) is not happening—to be precise—away from where the effect is subtly being set up and staged.

Misdirection in everyday life is a frequent phenomenon. The nurse asks about the patient’s weekend while giving a flu shot; the bellman calls the guest’s attention to a beautiful plant or painting opposite the site of new construction. We even practice misdirection on ourselves—listening to the radio while mowing the lawn. Misdirection can turn an otherwise generous gesture into an amazing and inspirational one.

Making a Problem Disappear

On a sunny afternoon in March, a returning guest entered the Herbert Samuel Restaurant in The Ritz-Carlton, Herzliya in Tel Aviv for lunch with his family. The guest was immediately recognized and greeted by the Food and Beverage Director. During their short conversation, the Food and Beverage Director noticed that the guest had a bad stain on the back of his coat. Concerned the incident causing the stain might have just occurred, the Food and Beverage Director asked what had happened. The guest advised him that it was actually an old stain, and he had never been able to it get out of the coat, which was one of his favorites.

After their brief conversation, the hostess sent the guest and his family at their table for lunch. She collected the coats to hang them up while the group had their meal. In the meantime, the Food and Beverage Director asked the Restaurant Manager to take the coat to housekeeping to see if they might be able to remove the stain while the family was dining. The Restaurant Manager estimated that they had less than two hours before the guest would be finished at the restaurant. The Assistant Housekeeping Manager immediately began working on removing the stain and after an hour and a half he succeeded!

The restaurant team kept it as a surprise for the guest. When the guest finished his meal, he was delighted to find out what had been done. He never expected this kind of service while having lunch and was amazed they were able to get the old stain removed.

Unique, Personalized Service is Magical

Great magicians demonstrate deep respect for their audience in many ways. Master magician Henning Nelms compares the magician’s code to the poker player’s: “No one expects a poker player to reveal the cards he holds. However, if he tries to deceive by dealing from the bottom of the deck, he may get shot and he will certainly be shunned.”

The same type of respect for guests is necessary for service magicians. They treat guests as individuals worth of dignity and consideration, not as adversaries or dupes.  They observe guests closely and listen fanatically so they can respond to their real needs—not always the ones voiced.

Great service brings your guests back, but great service with magic and wonder turns guests into enthusiastic advocates eager to sing your praises to all who will listen. Look for ways to bring a bit of service magic to those you serve. Instead of providing only the generous value-adds; look for opportunities to deliver ingenious value-uniques. 

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.

Customer Service Problem Resolution

Problem resolution is an art that requires grace, finesse, patience and practice — and the single best way to help customers when they experience a problem is to ensure that the issue is taken care of by the first point of contact. Even when a customer is really upset, the best action you can take is to personally handle the problem for the customer. Customers do not want to repeat their tale of woe over and over. When this happens, the original problem becomes magnified and a customer’s frustration level grows as well.

At The Ritz-Carlton, Service Value 6 states, “I own and immediately resolve guest problems.” Our research indicates that the number of people it takes to resolve a problem directly affects the level of customer engagement. The more people that have to get involved, the lower the engagement score. According to a survey cited by LivePerson, “getting an issue resolved quickly was by far the most critical factor (82%)” for a positive customer experience and “having the issue resolved in a single interaction is key (56%)” as well.

In the Guest Story below, the Front Desk Agent not only detects the guest’s problem, but takes ownership and goes above and beyond to resolve the issue for the guest.

Guest Story of Customer Service Problem Resolution 

A frequent business guest of The Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai arrived to check in late at night. The Front Desk Agent had engaged with the guest many times before during his past visits and noticed right away that the guest seemed anxious and distressed. In addition, the guest — who was always impeccably dressed in a business suit — was wearing very casual Hawaiian-style shorts.

The Front Desk Agent engaged the guest in conversation to see if he might be able to uncover the reason behind the surprising change in the guest’s attire. The guest told the Front Desk Agent that the pants to his business suit had been ripped by a chair in the airport, and he had to purchase something else to wear from one of the tourist shops. The guest was distressed because he did not have another pair of pants to match his suit, and he had an important meeting the next day at 10 a.m.

Hearing of the guest’s problem, the Front Desk Agent immediately decided to help the guest, and offered to have the pants repaired that night. The Front Desk Agent took the pants to the night shift Ladies and Gentlemen in housekeeping, but despite their efforts, the tear could not be mended due to its size. At this point, it was already 1:30 in the morning, and The Front Desk Agent knew the nearby mall would not open until 10 the next morning — the exact time the guest’s meeting was set to begin.

Applying Discretionary Effort

With Service Value 6 in mind, the Front Desk Agent wanted to see this through and resolve the problem for the guest. He took the pants home with him that night, and after only a few hours’ sleep, woke up early and headed to an area in Shanghai that housed several small fashion markets. In the early morning, he searched through the many stores until he found a pair of pants in the guest’s size that matched almost exactly. After making the purchase, The Front Desk Agent rushed back to The Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai and delivered the new pants to the guest in time for his meeting.

The guest was very impressed that The Front Desk Agent had been able find a replacement for his clothing in just the space of a few nighttime hours. In a thank you letter to The Front Desk Agent, the guest said that this was his “most memorable experience in the global hospitality industry.”

This guest story shows that when you own and immediately resolve problems, you can transform a disappointing customer experience into a moment where you delight and amaze your customer. And when you successfully turn a problematic situation around, you increase your level of customer engagement. 

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.

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. 

Genuine Customer Care

Is it real? It’s a question you have to ask when you find out that Twitter stories turn out to be hoaxes, reality TV shows can be manufactured, and even foods can be more artificial than real. No one likes to feel tricked or manipulated. This is especially true in customer service. The Credo of The Ritz-Carlton states that: “the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.” Genuine service must come from the heart, and your customers will sense if your kindness is an act or the real deal.

What makes each of the two guest stories below so special is that the staff—also known as the Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton—genuinely connected with the guests. The Ladies and Gentlemen’s actions were motivated by real caring, and the responses from the guests show how much authentic thoughtfulness is appreciated.

Baby’s First Gift

One morning, a Spa Attendant at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, greeted a new guest at the Spa. The woman was scheduled for a pre-natal massage, and the Spa Attendant set to work immediately to make her feel relaxed and comfortable. In talking with the guest, the Spa Attendant learned that the guest was expecting the little one in just a few months. The woman disclosed that she and her husband were feeling a little nervous about the life change ahead for them, but were looking forward to their new adventure.

During the day at the Spa, the Spa Attendant felt she had built a strong bond with the soon-to-be mother, and decided to make a special gift to commemorate the couple’s new journey into parenthood. Her creative and artistic abilities kicked into high gear and that night she began crafting a full-sized ‘baby adventure book.’ Each page offered an area for a photograph and handwritten note by mom or dad. To add to the baby joy, she sewed 12 different onesies—one for each month of the baby’s first year! Once complete, the Spa Attendant sent her handmade gifts with a personalized note inviting them to continue visiting the hotel once the baby was born.

A few days later the hotel received the following note from the guest: “I just received a package from your Spa Attendant … and I am seriously blown away. I am completely overwhelmed and shocked at such a wonderful sweet handmade gift! I LOVED all of it! Thank you!”

Remembering A Special Guest

After the passing of a guest’s beloved wife, the guest wrote the following note:

“I am writing to you to express my deep and sincere THANKS to the Guest Relations Team at The Ritz-Carlton, Shenzhen. You will be aware of the circumstance that prompted my return to this hotel. When my (now late) wife and I were here in May this year, all the staff were incredibly caring and conscious of my wife’s limitations. Nothing was too much trouble and the Club floor team always remembered her name and asked about her general health. She was diagnosed with a chronic muscle condition 10 years ago, which meant a gradual decline in her muscle capability. She had a wonderful time during our visit. She was unable to walk, so she spent a lot of time in the Club Lounge area. No one expected her to lose her health so quickly, but she passed away suddenly, 5 weeks after our visit to Shenzhen.

So, as part of my grieving and to personally thank the staff at The Ritz-Carlton, I have made the trip back. I am OVERWHELMED with the sincerity, care and kindness shown by your team. To be greeted with flowers, a handmade card, and a specially made personal video is something I will never forget. I cannot express my thanks enough to the Ladies and Gentlemen for their thoughtfulness, time and effort in putting together that video. I have a copy to show to my family back in Australia. My wife and I travelled to many international cities around the world and stayed in 5-star hotels everywhere, and we have never (never) experienced the level of personal care and attention that your team provided us. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks to ALL of you.”

Creating memorable and personal customer experiences begins with genuine customer engagement. Diana Oreck, Former Vice President of The Leadership Center, advises: “Do not treat your customers in a transactional fashion—as just a head in bed, a deposit/withdrawal or a medical procedure. Your customers are real people, and they want to be recognized as unique individuals.” True customer caring is not manufactured or mass-produced. True caring is real and really appreciated. 

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. 

A Tradition of Customer Engagement

The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, in Atlanta, celebrated its 30-year anniversary in January 2014. In honor of this milestone, we’re sharing two guest stories that exemplify the level of personal service the hotel has continued to provide over the last three decades.

One Fine Clay

On a beautiful fall weekend in Atlanta, Georgia, a mother and her daughter arrived for a vacation at The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead. The daughter had recently started attending one of the local universities, and her mother had traveled from London to visit and to give her daughter a break from her studies. To celebrate their weekend together, the guests booked appointments in the Spa, including a relaxing massage.

While preparing the daughter for her treatment, the Massage Therapist inquired as to how she was enjoying being a new student at the university. The guest told the Massage Therapist that she really liked Atlanta and was enjoying her college experience. However, she shared that she was disappointed in the quality of one of her classes. The guest explained she is very passionate about ceramic arts and had hoped she would be able to expand her skills through her sculpting class. Unfortunately, she felt the class was not living up to her expectations.

As it turns out, the Massage Therapist also had a passion for ceramics. Wanting to provide a warm welcome to Atlanta for the guest, the Massage Therapist decided to put together a special gift. That evening, the Massage Therapist went to one of her favorite local art supply stores and purchased her favorite brand of clay, “104 & Dixon,” as well as some wooden sculpting tools, a spray bottle for moistening clay, and a selection of fine ceramic art magazines. The Massage Therapist created a gift basket and included a letter with both the contact information for her favorite ceramic supply shop as well as a list of local art studios offering ceramics classes. For the final personal touch, the Massage Therapist gifted two ceramics pieces that she had personally crafted, including a small jewelry box and a leaf ornament.

The daughter was delighted with the gift. The guests were so impressed. They agreed they would stay at the hotel again during her mother’s next visit.

Mystery of the Vanishing Taxi

Upon arriving at The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, a guest realized that he had left his briefcase with some very important papers in the back of his taxi. In fact, the papers were crucial for him to close a $16 million (US) dollar real estate transaction. The guest was quite distraught, and he approached the Bell Stand Attendant and told him what had happened. The guest had been very distracted during his travels in thinking about the enormous business deal he was about to close and did not pay attention to type of car or the company the taxi belonged to. Unfortunately, the only significant detail about the trip that the guest could remember was the fact that his driver was female.

The Bell Stand Attendant immediately called the airport Taxi “Starter” and left all pertinent details with them. While they said they would check into it, the taxi company did not seem confident they would be able to identify the car with so little information. To solve the problem, the Bell Stand Attendant shared the guest’s predicament with Loss Prevention. Together, they were able to pull up the security videotape from when the guest arrived and determine the make and color of the taxi. Luckily, they were even able to pull up the license plate number from the vehicle!

With this new information, the Bell Stand Attendant drove to the airport taxi stand and worked with the drivers to track down the taxi in question. After approximately 45 minutes, the driver returned to the airport. When they opened the trunk of the car, they were relieved to find the missing briefcase. The Bell Stand Attendant then returned to the hotel with the briefcase and gave it back to the very grateful guest.

The next morning the guest shared his experience with the Hotel Manager. The guest was so impressed by the efforts of the Ladies and Gentlemen that he was moved to tears. He conveyed his gratitude to the Bell Stand Attendant for going far and beyond what he would have expected from a hotel employee. He said this experience would remain with him forever, and he would use it as an example with his own staff to encourage them to increase their level of engagement with their customers. 

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. 

Guest Story: Man’s Best Friend

LAST-MINUTE HONEYMOONERS

Late one night, two last-minute guests arrived at The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna. When they visited the Club Lounge, The Club Lounge Manager was enthralled by their story. The couple had just driven by car all way from Great Britain with their two dogs, Charlie and Jasmine. But it turned out this was much more than a driving tour through Europe. The couple began their trip with a small wedding ceremony. They had planned to drive to Venice, but because it was high season in Venice, they decided to stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna for two nights instead.

The Club Lounge Manager booked the couple a table in their restaurant, Dstrikt, and arranged for two glasses of Champagne for them. Then, while the couple was at dinner, The Club Lounge Manager worked with a colleague from In-Room Dining to set up a surprise in their room—chocolate-covered strawberries and some dog snacks. The Club Lounge Manager also secretly took pictures of their two dogs in the room on The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna dog pillows.

The next day the guests returned to the Club Lounge, where two Club Agents surprised them with information about all they could do with the dogs in Vienna. On the second night of their stay the Assistant Director of Housekeeping surprised them with a beautiful rose petal turndown.

It’s no wonder the couple decided to extend their stay another three nights, but unfortunately, they could only stay one extra night because the hotel was fully booked over the weekend. The Club Lounge Manager talked to them about other hotel options and found out that the guests had never been to The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin. As they had to drive back to England anyway, The Club Lounge Manager proposed this alternative as a great option to break the long drive and also to get to know another Ritz-Carlton property. (The couple had already stayed at over 20 Ritz-Carlton properties worldwide.) The guests were very happy with this idea.

FINDING THEIR FOUR-FOOTED FRIEND

On their last night in Vienna after the guests had already said their “good-byes,” the husband ran back into the Club Lounge and informed The Club Lounge Manager that the younger dog, Jasmine, had run away inside the hotel. The Club Lounge Manager asked a Bellboy and a Loss Prevention Officer for help, and they all searched together with the couple until the husband finally found Jasmine. The couple was crying tears of happiness and couldn’t thank the team enough.

The next day the couple drove off to The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin. After their vacation, The Club Lounge Manager received this lovely email from them:
“Well, we are all home safe and sound and managed not to lose Jasmine in The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin. Many, many thanks for your beautiful and thoughtful gift of the photograph of Charlie and Jasmine. It was amazing!! I have shown it to everyone back in the UK, and it now has pride of place in our home. The suite in Berlin was also fantastic, and I must thank you for organizing that as well.

“We always stay in The Ritz-Carlton because the service and the staff are exemplary, but you go above and beyond this and made our stay one that we will never forget. You are an asset to the company, and I am sure you will excel to a very senior position.

“Our home address will be on the system and my mobile number is 07…. if you are ever considering visiting Liverpool, then please contact us. You will always be welcome to stay and Jasmine and Charlie would love to see you! Many many thanks. You are a star!” 

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. 

Great Customer Experience: The Dumpling Gang

You don’t have to be a superhero to provide a great customer experience. It’s not about leaping over buildings and making huge gestures. As you’ll see in the story below, service becomes legendary as you listen to your customers and look for creative ways to meet their needs.

A large group was staying at the The Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Financial Street on the Club Lounge. For many of these guests, this was their first visit to China. They were curious about Chinese culture and seemed particularly intrigued by some of the food offerings in the Club Lounge. One morning, while eating breakfast, they kept commenting on the fried dumplings, asking questions like “How do you make Chinese dumplings?” and “What’s the filling inside these dumplings?”

TURNING CURIOSITY INTO A CLASS

The Guest Recognition Manager answered their questions, but then came up with a unique idea. She thought it would be fun to organize a home-style dumpling class. The Club team could take the guests through the entire process step-by-step, from kneading the dough, to preparing the filling, to sautéing the dumplings, and of course, to sampling them!

The Guest Recognition Manager shared her idea with her team, and they immediately got to work to make it happen. The Guest Recognition Manager sent out invitations to all the guests, and the next day nearly a dozen guests sent their confirmations. The Chinese kitchen also provided support by supplying the equipment and preparing the dumpling filling and dough. A lady and gentleman from The Ritz-Carlton Sales team also volunteered to assist with the dumpling class.

A TEAM EFFORT

On Friday, the day of the big event, the Club team set up a special cocktail reception for the guests with a presentation of wine, champagne, beer and soft drinks. Then, at 6 p.m., all of the ingredients were ready for the class. The Guest Recognition Manager and a member of the Sales team walked the guests through the process, and the guests all got to work making their own special dumplings. Other Ladies and Gentlemen stepped in to serve the guests, take photos and make the evening a success.

The group guests had a fantastic time. One of them commented that it was not only a fun evening, but also a successful team builder for her group: “I’m very appreciative of what you did. It’s amazing, and it helped me to build my team.” Others mentioned that they’d now be able to make a dumpling at home.

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. 

Memorable Customer Experience: The Tooth Fairy

The Spa Manager at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami created a truly unique and memorable customer experience for one of our guests. One night, the Spa Manager was walking in the lobby as the Lobby Lion/Ambassador. A four-year-old girl walked past and the Spa Manager struck up a conversation. She asked the little girl if she had fun at the pool. Her response was to quickly show the Spa Manager that she lost her first tooth. Her mom informed the Spa Manager that the little girl was sad because she didn’t think the tooth fairy would be able to find her because she wasn’t at home. The family then walked away.

With the help of the Valet Team and the Front Desk Team, the Spa Manager was able to find what room the family was staying in. The ladies and gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton decided to make the little girl’s first tooth experience a memorable moment.

CREATIVE COSTUMING

The Spa Manager quickly changed into a pink frilly dress that she had, while the Front Desk put their creativity to the test and started crafting wings for the Spa Manager’s costume. The kitchen prepared three cookies, sprinkles, and a chocolate milkshake, while the Spa Concierge was covered from head to toe in glitter. The Spa Manager ran to a nearby convenient store to pick up a tiara (crown) and a goody bag for the little girl (and yes, while dressed in costume!).

With the help of Housekeeping and the Front Office, they put together a goody bag of bubbles, a toothbrush, a stuffed animal and jewelry for the little girl and headed up to the room. To their disappointment, the family had stepped outside of the hotel for dinner. Not wanting the tooth fairy idea to fizzle, the team waited in the lobby.

During their wait, they attracted quite a crowd. Other guests and residents were wondering why there was a Lady of The Ritz-Carlton dressed up as a fairy—so they told them the story. The hotel guests and the residents decided to stick around and see the little girl’s reaction. After an hour of waiting, the family finally arrived.

MANY HAPPY HUGS

The front door opened and the little girl knew immediately who she was—the tooth fairy! She took off in a dead sprint toward the tooth fairy, arms wide open, and gave her the biggest hug she had ever gotten! She kept saying, “How did you know? How did you find me?”

The tooth fairy informed her that The Ritz-Carlton called her and so she came as fast as she could. The crowd that had gathered in the lobby all started to clap and congratulate the family and even shed a few tears. After five hugs, the little girl opened her presents. She would pause after each one; jaw dropped, and would give the tooth fairy another hug. The family and the tooth fairy gathered to take pictures and give each other goodbye hugs. The little girl left with a goody bag, a memory for life, and most importantly, one less tooth.

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. 

Guest Story: Impeccable Service

A couple was staying at Sharq Village and Spa, a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Doha, for a three-night stay. One morning while they were enjoying their breakfast at the hotel’s Al Jalsa coffee shop, the Restaurant Supervisor took the opportunity to engage with the couple. During their conversation, the Restaurant Supervisor learned that the guests recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, at the time of their 40th anniversary, the wife was in the process of undergoing knee surgery so they couldn’t enjoy their anniversary to the fullest.

MISSED ANNIVERSARY

The Restaurant Supervisor wanted to make up for the fact that they weren’t able to enjoy their actual anniversary and immediately began to make their stay memorable. While the couple was still eating, he quickly got to work and by the time the couple had finished their breakfast that morning, a plan was in place.

As the couple entered the lobby on their way back to their room, they were greeted by the Restaurant Supervisor, who had gathered many of the hotel’s Ladies and Gentlemen, and they presented the couple with a bouquet of flowers, a 40th anniversary cake, and a hand-written card signed by the team. They also invited the couple to enjoy a romantic meal that evening in the hotel’s Al Dana restaurant. Needless to say, the couple was blown away not only by the level of service, but by how quickly the Restaurant Supervisor was able to pull off the surprise—literally within minutes.

WARDROBE CHANGE

The following morning, the couple couldn’t thank the Restaurant Supervisor and the team enough. But the Restaurant Supervisor wasn’t done. He learned the day before that the couple was planning to visit a nearby traditional local market so they could experience Arabic culture. Before they headed out, the Restaurant Supervisor presented the couple with traditional Arabic clothing so they could truly embrace and experience the Arabic culture first-hand. The couple excitedly put on their outfits.

Upon checkout, the couple left the following note for the Restaurant Supervisor and the team. “Thank you for a truly fantastic three days. You personally made our stay the most memorable and enjoyable. You made us feel like royalty with friendly and impeccable service!”

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. 

Genuine Care: A Special Star

Vacations are typically opportunities for happiness and fun. However, some vacations serve as quiet, healing retreats. The following letter is from a couple who visited The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas at a difficult time in their lives.

LETTER FROM GUEST

“I am writing to tell you of a recent visit to your St. Thomas resort. Although we have qualified for our company’s annual incentive trip each year we have been with the company, I was not sure that we could attend this year. One year ago, my family experienced an unimaginable tragedy when we lost our 19-year-old daughter. As I am sure you could imagine, this turned our world upside down. We struggled through the first year, and we were committed to working through our grief in her honor.

“We qualified for our annual trip, which was to be at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas. I was not sure that I could put my game face on during what would be such a difficult and emotional week, but my wife and I decided that not only had we earned the trip, but we also needed to get away for a well-deserved week of rest. Knowing what a tough day the anniversary would be, my wife and I worked with our meeting planner, who worked with the Meetings and Special Events Manager at The Ritz-Carlton to try and arrange a private way for us to honor our daughter.

SECLUDED SPACE

“On the night of the anniversary, the Meetings and Special Events Manager arranged for us to have a very nice private cabana on the beach at sunset. That evening we went down to the beach and enjoyed some private time away from everyone and shared some amazing memories of our daughter and the journey that the past year had been. We lit a Chinese lantern that we floated off to the heavens to remember our daughter. It was a very special time for both of us. But our experience does not end there.

“When we arrived back at our room, I was a step ahead of my wife. I saw something placed on the bed and turned around and asked my wife what she had done. Confused, she said she had done nothing. Together we looked at the array of items laid out on our bed. There was a beautiful framed certificate from the International Star Registry spelling out the coordinates of a star that had been named in honor of our daughter; along with it was a map of the constellation that the star resides in. I opened the card with my wife, still unaware where all of this had come from. The card expressed a very touching and personal sentiment from the Meetings and Special Events Manager.

“When I tell you I was blown away, that would be an understatement. It was only our second evening of our stay and we had not yet met the Meetings and Special Events Manager but words cannot express the gratitude we felt at that moment.

GENUINE CARE

“The next morning I found our meeting planner and asked her to find the Meetings and Special Events Manager for me. We met her just outside the meeting area and shared an emotional embrace. To say that she is a caring professional who is committed to both her position and The Ritz-Carlton would only scratch the surface. She took such a special interest in us during our entire stay. As I am sure you know, it is people who make an organization. It is special people like the Meetings and Special Events Manager who are such an integral part of the public perception of a business. You should be very proud of this amazing young lady and the way she cares for your guests.”

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.