Baldrige National Quality Award 1992 Recipient
Ritz-Carlton: A Snapshot
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company operates 23 business and resort hotels in the United States and two hotels in Australia. It also has nine international sales offices and employs 11,500 people. Two subsidiary products, restaurants and banquets, are marketed heavily to local residents. The company claims distinctive facilities and environments, highly personalized services, and exceptional food and beverages.
The company's business plan demonstrates the value it places on goals for quality products and services. Quality goals draw heavily on consumer requirements derived from extensive research by the travel industry and the company's customer reaction data, focus groups, and surveys. The plan relies upon a management system designed to avoid the variability of service delivery traditionally associated with hotels. Uniform processes are well defined and documented at all levels of the company.
Key product and service requirements of the travel consumer have been translated into Ritz-Carlton Gold Standards, which include a credo, motto, three steps of service, and 20 "Ritz-Carlton Basics." Each employee is expected to understand and adhere to these standards, which describe processes for solving problems guests may have as well as detailed grooming, housekeeping, and safety and efficiency standards. Company studies prove that this emphasis is on the mark, paying dividends to customers and, ultimately, to Ritz-Carlton.
The corporate motto is "ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen." To provide superior service, Ritz-Carlton trains employees with a thorough orientation, followed by on-the-job training, then job certification. Ritz-Carlton values are reinforced continuously by daily "line ups," frequent recognition for extraordinary achievement, and a performance appraisal based on expectations explained during the orientation, training, and certification processes.
To ensure problems are resolved quickly, workers are required to act at first notice -- regardless of the type of problem or customer complaint. All employees are empowered to do whatever it takes to provide "instant pacification." No matter what their normal duties are, other employees must assist if aid is requested by a fellow worker who is responding to a guest's complaint or wish.
Much of the responsibility for ensuring high-quality guest services and accommodations rests with employees. Surveyed annually to ascertain their levels of satisfaction and understanding of quality standards, workers are keenly aware that excellence in guest services is a top hotel and personal priority. A full 96 percent of all employees surveyed in 1991 singled out this priority -- even though the company had added 3,000 new employees in the previous 3 years.
The benefits of detailed planning and the hands-on involvement of executives are evident during the 7 days leading up to the opening of a new hotel. Rather than opening a hotel in phases, as is the practice in the industry, Ritz-Carlton aims to have everything right when the door opens to the first customer. A "7-day countdown control plan" synchronizes all steps leading to the opening. The company president and other senior leaders personally instruct new employees on the "Gold Standards" and quality management during a 2-day orientation, and a specially selected start-up team composed of staff from other hotels around the country ensures all work areas, processes, and equipment are ready.
Among the data gathered and tracked over time are guest room preventive maintenance cycles per year, percentage of check-ins with no queuing, time spent to achieve industry-best clean room appearance, and time to service an occupied guest room.
From automated building and safety systems to computerized reservation systems, Ritz-Carlton uses advanced technology to full advantage. For example, each employee is trained to note guest likes and dislikes. These data are entered in a computerized guest history profile that provides information on the preferences of 240,000 repeat Ritz-Carlton guests, resulting in more personalized service.
The aim of these and other customer-focused measures is not simply to meet the expectations of guests but to provide them with a "memorable visit." According to surveys conducted for Ritz-Carlton by an independent research firm, 92 to 97 percent of the company's guests leave with that impression. Evidence of the effectiveness of the company's efforts also includes the 121 quality-related awards received in 1991 and industry-best rankings by all three major hotel-rating organizations.