Championship winning coaches have a habit of demanding
excellence from everyone on their team. They never tolerate
mediocrity from anyone. Incredibly high standards are discussed
everyday (yes, everyday).
This article, however, is not about sports. Nor is it about AAA
ratings, Mobil ratings, or Michelin Guide ratings. It is about
what separates very good from exceptional.
I've had the privilege to work with 5-star hotels, restaurants,
and spas. I have also worked with 4-star establishments. The
difference between the two is like night and day. 4 star
properties are reputable and very good.
In most cases, the staff knows what they are supposed to do, and
they even have an idea about what great service is. In a 5 star
establishment, excellence is demanded from everyone every day.
Mistakes are always reviewed. Follow through is always done. The
best employees are always recognized. Everyone works like they
have a personal stake in the property. To put it bluntly, good
is never good enough...employees in 5 star properties strive to
be perfect all the time. The leadership in 5-star properties
always challenge their teams and themselves to get better. Being
5-stars is more about a mindset than it is about adhering to
So what are the best ways to implement this 5-star mindset?
First, recognize that 5-stars is not about an award or
designation. It's about a mentality, a way of working,
discipline and most of all, a healthy disdain for anything
Whenever you find yourself thinking, "Well that's ok" or "It's
not that bad" or "It'll be perfect next time", then you're
drifting away from the 5-star mentality.
Let me be clear, you don't have to work in a 5-star
establishment to have a 5-star mentality. I've seen 3 and 4 star
establishments with the 5-star mindset. I've seen grocery stores
and airlines with the 5-star mindset as well. 5-stars is about
excellence and striving to be world-class in whatever you are
doing - all the time.
I recently stayed at the Wynn Las Vegas, and had a 5-star
experience. One of the true testaments of a 5-star experience is
how well the staff takes ownership and follows through.
Shortly after checking in, I ordered room service. When the
order came, the server was refined, yet very personable. She
asked me where I would like the table to be set up, and I told
her in front of the television. She then asked about my
television station preference, turned the channel to the desired
station, and placed the remote control right next to me.
After uncovering my food and describing each dish, she asked if
there was anything further she could do to assist. I had
forgotten my lint roller at home, so I asked if the hotel might
have one for me. She said that she'd be happy to take care of
it, and I would have an update within a half-hour. Less than 15
minutes later, someone was knocking at my door. It was a laundry
attendant with a silver tray and 3 lint rollers for me to use.
By the way, the attendant also used my name and inquired about
further assistance also.
Keep in mind that these were the laundry attendant and the room
service server. Those are not the highest paid employees, but
their actions created a 5-star experience. The true test of a
5-star establishment is not whether they can create a single
memorable experience. It's whether they can create memorable
experiences repeatedly everyday.
From a leadership perspective, one of the best ways to do this
is to continuously solicit and share examples of memorable
experiences. Every week, solicit examples from your team, or you
can read letters submitted by past guests. Just make sure that
you focus on the level of service you want to see repeated.
Focusing on excellence will stimulate more excellence.
Talking about excellence will stimulate more excellence.
Rewarding excellence will stimulate more excellence. One general
manager with 5-star hotel experience put it perfectly:
"It is the small, simple, special moments that we create through
personal engagement with each guest that they will recall when
they return home. To accomplish this type of sustainability we
carefully and methodically select our employees, and then
continuously train. It's not about the tactical as much as it is
about speaking the language of the guest".
So be sure to be very clear about your vision for service
excellence. Share some examples from various industries. Ask
your team about the most memorable service they ever received.
Most importantly, challenge everyone on your team to take
ownership and follow through on guest requests all the time.
5-stars is not an award, it's a declaration to your team that
good is not good enough - only excellence will do.
About the Author
Bryan K. Williams is the Chief Service Officer of B. Williams
Enterprise, LLC. He is a seasoned service expert, who has
facilitated workshops and delivered keynotes all over the world
for various companies. Bryan speaks on a variety of topics
related to service excellence, employee engagement, and
organizational improvement. As a consultant he works closely
with companies to design, develop, and implement sustainable
service strategies. Visit: