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Employee Motivation the Ritz-Carlton Way

The upscale hotelier's staff meetings rely on techniques designed to engage staffers. Here's how you can incorporate them in your own shop

It didn't surprise me to find The Ritz-Carlton on BusinessWeek's 2008 Customer Service Champs ranking (BusinessWeek.com, 2/21/08). When I was researching inspiring leaders, I spent time with Ritz-Carlton President Simon Cooper, who discussed how his company strives to engage its staff to increase employee satisfaction and improve customer service. I saw his strategies in practice when I attended staff meetings run by managers at the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton and described a few of them in a previous column (BusinessWeek.com, 2/13/07). Now, I've returned to my notes to expand on ways you can incorporate techniques from the upscale hotelier in your own company.

Share "wow stories." Every day, employees of every department in every Ritz-Carlton hotel around the world gather for a 15-minute staff meeting where they share "wow stories." These are true stories of employee heroics that go above and beyond conventional customer service expectations. In one, a hotel chef in Bali found special eggs and milk for a guest with food allergies in a small grocery store in another country and had them flown to the hotel. In another, a hotel's laundry service failed to remove a stain on a guest's suit before the guest left. The hotel manager flew to the guest's house and personally delivered a reimbursement check for the cost of the suit.