How To Achieve Service Excellence

A few years ago, I was working on a project in Asia, and a general manager shared a story about the recruitment process for the hotel’s opening. In order to hire a large number of staff quickly, officials went to a nearby farm and told all the workers they were being reassigned to work in a new luxury hotel. Instantaneously, the hotel was fully staffed!

Obviously, training these frontline employees and managers on what service delivery meant, many of whom had never even stayed in a hotel, presented a challenge.

While today’s situation of unskilled labor working in hotels isn’t as extreme as field hands becoming front desk agents, there is a problem of inexperienced service employees who lack the proper training to deliver extraordinary customer service even as hotel rates continue to escalate.

How would you rate the service within your organization? What score would your guests give it?

Ensuring extraordinary customer service isn’t accomplished with a one-week training course. It’s much more complicated to move the needle and make a systemic change. It’s about creating a hotel-wide service excellence ethos that is embraced by senior leaders of the hotel. They need to walk the talk and model the behavior you want to establish, encourage, and sustain among employees throughout and for the lifetime of the hotel.

It’s not a ‘one and done’ project. Changing staff behavior involves diving into employee motivation, guidance on the right way to do something, correction of slip-ups, and encouragement through rewards and incentives. Done correctly, it provides the foundation and environment for an employee to make the right choices when they face multiple customer interactions and must respond appropriately.


Service excellence is an ongoing exercise as part of a hotel’s overall way of doing things. It requires relentless commitment from leaders who must model the way in everything they do, even when they think no one is looking.

Be sure to dedicate resources to develop and embrace service excellence. Employees will thank you for making their job easier, and your customers will reward you with their loyalty and by opening their wallets more often.


“If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.” – Edgar Mitchell

“Do what you do so well that customers will want to see it again and bring their friends.” – Walt Disney

“It takes months to find a customer…it takes seconds to lose them.” ­– Vince Lombardi

Take the Next Step Now

Need help improving your service? Contact Jo-Anne at
[email protected].

About Jo-Anne Hill

Jo-Anne is an industry expert who founded JH Hospitality Consulting to help hotels around the world dramatically improve revenue and profitability in creative ways. Her strategic thinking, skill, and practical approach to problem-solving come from hands-on experience at companies such as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, the Mandarin-Oriental Hotel Group, the Dorchester Collection, and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts.

Jo-Anne’s recently published book ‘Cultivating Leadership: How great leaders make a difference, one hotel at a time” dives deeper into the equation: happy staff = happy guests = more revenue.

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