When it comes to five star luxury, the Four Seasons hotel chain knows a thing or two about pampering guests. It is after all the company’s dedication to providing top-notch service that truly sets it apart.
As London’s Four Seasons Park Lane prepares to reopen on January 31st, we look at the key role of the company’s recruitment strategy in elevating the brand above so many of its competitors.
According to the chain’s official magazine, the secret to the company’s success is found in its job hiring process. Recruitment at London hotels is an area already covered on this blog, most recently in exposing the unconventional “Hollywood casting” approach of the new W London Hotel.
As Annabel Shaw, Hotel Manager at the newly-renovated Four Seasons Park Lane, reveals: “We’ve identified that our key competitive difference is our people. We spend a great deal of time finding the right people and making sure they’re equipped to give our guests an excellent experience.”
Attitude over experience
Perhaps the most telling aspect of the Four Seasons selection process is that it puts the focus firmly on the applicant’s attitude to others rather than relevant experience in the hospitality industry. This approach echoes the hiring strategy of the new breed of budget London hotels which recruit individuals primarily on the basis of great customer service skills.
“Competence we can teach,” says Isadore Sharp, the chain’s founder and chairman. “Attitude is ingrained.” These are undoubtedly reassuring words for anyone doing a job search for a top hotel who is lacking experience.
When a ‘mass hire’ day was held prior to the Park Lane reopening, 2000 people applied for London jobs of which around half were interviewed.
Applicants for key job vacancies were assessed by a team of executives, including the Hotel Manager, with questions aimed at finding people who already had the attitude that Four Seasons looks for in its staff. In other words, “people who are warm and caring, ethical and well-intentioned.”
Training in the details
Having picked the best people for the job, the company brings in experienced staff from existing hotels to give new employees exemplary training in the Four Seasons approach. Detailed instructions are given on everything, no matter how small, in recognition of the fact that is the small things that add up to a guest’s overall enjoyment of their stay. This carries echoes of Red Carnation Hotels’ “tiny noticeable touches“.
Yet despite this in-depth training, staff are also encouraged to act independently according to how they feel a guest’s needs can be met. In particular, they are expected to be “perceptive about each guest’s individual preferences.” New ideas are always welcome at Four Seasons.
Ready to compete by delighting guests
The hotel is certainly re-entering the stage at a competitive time in the London hotel market, with a slew of luxury hotels set to open in 2011.
However, its emphasis on delivering a highly-personalised service and unique approach to filling hotel jobs has led to Four Seasons gaining an enviable reputation as a first class provider of ultra-deluxe comfort.
It will also undoubtedly ensure that when the Park Lane hotel reopens on January 31st, anyone who has previously stayed at a Four Seasons will instantly get that warm feeling of coming back home.
Photo credits: Four Seasons Park Lane.