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Process -- the how of luxury booking and behavior

Process -- the how of luxury booking and behavior

Old Aug 11, 17, 4:32 am
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Process -- the how of luxury booking and behavior

What is the process behind luxury-seeking behavior? Two examples to get us started:

Many here refer to chatting with a general manager or director -- I never have figured out how to do this and wonder why I should. Yes, I get why this could be useful but I can't see myself chasing this sort of woohoo.

In any case, how does this happen? I think I would feel awkward unless it happened as a matter of course. There are MANY posts here about folk interacting with this, that and the other manager. Color me flummoxed or maybe just out of it.

NEXT: Great, the fab respite has been booked through a luxury TA and all is well. But, wait! Now there are additional requirements; flowers, candles in room and on terrace, chess set in suite, pitcher of sangria at checkin, etc. All small requests. But the booking is through the agent. And, let's assume one is scatter-brained and doesn't request everything at once; instead dribbles out one small request after another. Should these requests go through the booking agent? Or, through the venue/concierge?

All about the how, the practice of booking luxury.
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Old Aug 11, 17, 6:28 am
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In my limited experience, chatting with the GM works best when it happens naturally. I've been introduced to the GM on a few occasions, at times just because and at other times due to mishaps, and these have been very interesting conversations. On a few other occasions, I have seen the GM walking around or talking to staff, but I never initiate the contact in these cases. If I did, I'd make sure to have something specific to discuss with the GM before doing so.

When it comes to requests, I usually deal with the hotel directly, with the TA being kept in the loop by being CC'd on the emails. For any standing requests I have, I make sure to let our TA know, and I then take for granted that they are always informing the hotel as needed.

That's how I roll.
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Old Aug 11, 17, 7:23 am
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Originally Posted by KatW View Post
Many here refer to chatting with a general manager or director -- I never have figured out how to do this and wonder why I should. Yes, I get why this could be useful but I can't see myself chasing this sort of woohoo.
^
I don't really like the informal chatting with GMs. It makes me somehow uncomfortable. Ok I'm happy to be on holidays, happy to visit the place and happy to experience a nice hotel. But this kind of conversation can feel forced and I don't believe I am that important to have the GM come and speak to me Hopefully he has some much more serious business to do.

Regarding requests I usually deal directly with the hotel and try to write down everything so I make a single email. The problem is that usually it is answered by each concerned department (concierge, spa, reception, etc.) and I end up with 3 or 4 different emails exchange. Butler service would actually be more important BEFORE than during the stay.
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Old Aug 11, 17, 9:03 am
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should be an interesting thread! especially re communications in general

most posts re GM (not manager) are at small independent properties (and aman)

there are also posts re never dealing with managers, staff, travel agents, etc
(some prefer larger properties, avoid smallest properties, for more anonymity)

some properties have >
concierge (or social media) office in addition to concierge desk
guest relations etc team, sometimes not available to all guests
staff who contact all guests in advance to discuss their stay

'middlemen' in conversation sometimes cause misunderstanding

Last edited by Kagehitokiri; Aug 11, 17 at 11:54 am
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Old Aug 11, 17, 9:14 am
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At some properties, the GM and senior staff host receptions to which (some?) guests are invited.

If you get an email from the GM or some other manager, send a nice response. You can mention when you're likely to arrive or just graciously say that you'd like to meet them if the opportunity arises, especially to thank them for any special arrangements. Similarly, if you see the GM and he/she doesn't seem too busy, it's appropriate to introduce yourself and thank them for anything special or compliment particular staff members.

Sometimes it can seem even more useful to have met the rooms manager, front desk manager, customer relations manager, elite ambassador (if you have status), etc.

Just keep it classy. You don't want to make an impression as a pushy obnoxious pest.
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Old Aug 11, 17, 9:51 am
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Originally Posted by Pierre&Cédric View Post
^
I don't really like the informal chatting with GMs. It makes me somehow uncomfortable. Ok I'm happy to be on holidays, happy to visit the place and happy to experience a nice hotel. But this kind of conversation can feel forced and I don't believe I am that important to have the GM come and speak to me Hopefully he has some much more serious business to do.

Regarding requests I usually deal directly with the hotel and try to write down everything so I make a single email. The problem is that usually it is answered by each concerned department (concierge, spa, reception, etc.) and I end up with 3 or 4 different emails exchange. Butler service would actually be more important BEFORE than during the stay.
I find it awkward too and most times I'm happy never to need to contact a GM. I dislike those ivory tower GMs who don't find the time to communicate with guests and just pass along the email to subordinates. I'll use friendly contacts for an introduction if it's a brand or chain that I have some loyalty to. My booking agent also does this at places new and unfamiliar to me.

I don't like making my agent into an errand boy with a honey-do-list. They have more important things than relaying our stay requests. This can definitely be taken up with the appropriate departments from the hotel or resort. People like Joy at N'oi or butlers make these tasks easier.

some properties have >concierge (or social media) office in addition to concierge desk
guest relations etc team, sometimes not available to all guests
staff who contact all guests in advance to discuss their stay
Ah, Facebook and Instagram pages. I'm not a fan of them. Not often empowered to do much beyond basic responses, liking photos and other social media functions. Signiel Seoul's Facebook page gave me a phone number to call for stay related request. Would not pass on to the relevant team.

Last edited by Aventine; Aug 11, 17 at 9:58 am
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Old Aug 11, 17, 10:09 am
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was referring to when staff (privately) message guests rather than emailing, or handle things without messaging

(and only referring to true luxury properties which deliver true luxury service, because they care about guests)

Last edited by Kagehitokiri; Aug 11, 17 at 10:55 am
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Old Aug 11, 17, 11:06 am
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My first contact with a GM is often after the stay. If I have an outstanding stay, I do my best to get the email address for the GM. I write a thank you note, calling out specifics of whom and what made the stay excellent. I think they hear complaints so often it is refreshing to hear from a happy guest. The GM always responds. This then sets me up should I want to let the GM know that I'll be inhouse again. Here's an example. I went to the Gritti Palace, Venice, for a milestone birthday and had a wonderful stay. I was solo and was treated beautifully by every hotel employee. I wrote to the GM to say thank you. He asked me to let him know when we were in house again. A couple years on I brought my husband for our wedding anniversary. The GM upgraded us to one of their named suites, an act of great generosity and well beyond anything I expected.

We met the GM at Caresse in May. It was very quiet at the hotel and he sought us out to ask about our stay. We had finished breakfast and asked him to sit with us at our table. We have a lovely conversation. We mentioned many things that worked well and a couple that didn't. An example of the latter was the lack of Turkish items on the menu. He had the chef set up a special four course meal for us and gifted the first and last course to us. He then chatted with us on departure. I think the conversations were as enjoyable to him as to us as we had a similar mindset about what a luxury hotel experience should be. A few weeks back when there was an earthquake in Bodrum, I dashed off a one line note of concern for he and his staff. He responded quickly, letting me know that everyone and the property were well.

I can remember two other specific instances where thru serendipity the hotel GM fell into conversation with us and we ended up having satisfying conversations about the hotel and their experiences. It's not something that can be forced but when a skilled GM engages, it creates a genuinely satisfying guest experience.

I recognize this is not to your point, KatW, but I hope it's of interest. I enjoy the questions that you pose.
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Old Aug 11, 17, 1:22 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Just keep it classy. You don't want to make an impression as a pushy obnoxious pest.
I'm doomed.

Seriously, @SanDiego1K has it right for me about most often contacting GMs after a visit. I also send compliments, along with copies of/links to my reviews here on FT and/or TripAdvisor, as appropriate. Ironically, I also sent compliments to the GM and whole team at the Gritti Palace for our stay in Oct 2015.

At most hotels that aren't Aman, I don't meet the GM...unless I reached out in advance, which is quite rare.

I've infrequently had to go all the way to the GM when on property after experiencing some serious difficulties. I try to follow the chain of command...until that seems to get no results. The GM at StR Bora Bora was extremely kind and gracious to meet us over lunch early in our stay, and he really made sure to elevate our stay after a few curious initial service misses. The GM at the Excelsior Gallia Milan did similarly...and graciously offered me and my mother gifts before departure.

Of course, I am sure to have been considered an obnoxious pushy pest for the GMs whose service wasn't good and didn't improve IMO--both on property and afterward. I'm looking at the GMs or above at the Liberty (current GM), Halekulani (former GM), Azura Benguerra (unknown), FS Manele Bay Lanai (unknown), Turtle Island Fiji (same homophobic owner), and StR Dubai (same assistant GM).

That being said, I reached out in advance to the GMs/Directors of Rooms for our most recent India trip celebrating both our anniversary and my birthday. I did copy our TA, too, so they were in the loop and so the hotels could, if needed, arrange through them to still surprise us. (Many did.) We did meet the GMs or senior managers at the Lodhi, Udaivilas, Amarvilas, and obviously Karin at Amanbagh, almost certainly as a result of those advance communications. But those are for me only for special occasions.

After a very disappointing dinner and service experience at Studio at Montage Laguna Beach just a few weeks ago, I tried to reach out to the F/B director...but ended up speaking with the GM. He couldn't have handled it any better...and insists on us making future dinner reservations thorough him in the future. A class act.

Last edited by bhrubin; Aug 11, 17 at 2:00 pm
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Old Aug 11, 17, 3:31 pm
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Originally Posted by KatW View Post
What is the process behind luxury-seeking behavior? Two examples to get us started:

Many here refer to chatting with a general manager or director -- I never have figured out how to do this and wonder why I should. Yes, I get why this could be useful but I can't see myself chasing this sort of woohoo.

In any case, how does this happen?
One thing to keep in mind is that the number of guests who deal directly with GMs is disproportionately high here on FT.

I'd say it's most common among (very) regular guests and guests frequenting ultra-luxury and small, luxury boutique hotels.

Originally Posted by KatW View Post
NEXT: Great, the fab respite has been booked through a luxury TA and all is well. But, wait! Now there are additional requirements; flowers, candles in room and on terrace, chess set in suite, pitcher of sangria at checkin, etc. All small requests. But the booking is through the agent. And, let's assume one is scatter-brained and doesn't request everything at once; instead dribbles out one small request after another. Should these requests go through the booking agent? Or, through the venue/concierge?

All about the how, the practice of booking luxury.
Unlike with cruise lines and some other suppliers, you are generally free to deal with the hotel directly even when booking through a TA.

A few thoughts:

- if it's a (long) list of small requests and a request that requires back-and-forth communication, many clients choose to deal directly with the hotel and/or concierge (though I obviously offer to take care of those requests if desired)
- if it's a long list of small requests (as you describe above) it may be more efficient to create a spreadsheet, keep adding to it, and only submit it (or have the TA submit it) 1-2 weeks before arrival
- if it's a major request (e.g. honeymoon trip), an attempt to "negotiate" with the hotel (e.g. confirmed upgrade etc.) or anything related to the rate and/or included amenities, it's generally best to have the TA deal with it
- if you prefer to deal with the hotel directly regarding any "larger requests" (honeymoon, birthday etc.) I'd at least copy your TA on your messages to ensure he has all the relevant information as well
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Old Aug 11, 17, 5:34 pm
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Interesting replies, thankee all.

We've been invited to some of those "meet and greet" management cocktail parties. Let's see, at The Sandpiper in Barbados, Le Bristol in Paris (twice), and one two others. We usually go because it seems rude not to. However, maybe it would be a mitzvah to spare management my self-conscious, halting efforts at chitchat. And Jim would talk your ear off given half a chance, not always appropriately (dementia) as he tends to lecture about chess.

At very small, ultra-luxe venues (e.g., Laucala, Twin Farms) it's impossible NOT to meet the GM since he or she is ever present ensuring one has the grandest time.

Meeting management "organically" is by far best, agreed.

I do like the idea of reaching out after a stay to compliment good service, etc.
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Old Aug 11, 17, 5:37 pm
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>"One thing to keep in mind is that the number of guests who deal directly with GMs is disproportionately high here on FT."

Bang on point, Jasper2009.
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Old Aug 11, 17, 5:43 pm
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This caused me to laugh out loud, MSPeconomist:

>Just keep it classy. You don't want to make an impression as a pushy obnoxious pest.

I am one classy dame!
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Old Aug 11, 17, 6:16 pm
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Thank you, SanDiego1K. This speaks somewhat to my discomfort around issues that could be perceived as gaming the system. I want all the special treatment and goodies I can get because I expect I am as venal as anyone. But I'd much rather be seen by mgt as a good, thoughful guest who, yes, spends well (and I do). Entitlement is alien to my nature -- I'm always the one apologizing for YOUR mistake.

Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
My first contact with a GM is often after the stay. If I have an outstanding stay, I do my best to get the email address for the GM. I write a thank you note, calling out specifics of whom and what made the stay excellent. I think they hear complaints so often it is refreshing to hear from a happy guest. The GM always responds. This then sets me up should I want to let the GM know that I'll be inhouse again. Here's an example. I went to the Gritti Palace, Venice, for a milestone birthday and had a wonderful stay. I was solo and was treated beautifully by every hotel employee. I wrote to the GM to say thank you. He asked me to let him know when we were in house again. A couple years on I brought my husband for our wedding anniversary. The GM upgraded us to one of their named suites, an act of great generosity and well beyond anything I expected.

We met the GM at Caresse in May. It was very quiet at the hotel and he sought us out to ask about our stay. We had finished breakfast and asked him to sit with us at our table. We have a lovely conversation. We mentioned many things that worked well and a couple that didn't. An example of the latter was the lack of Turkish items on the menu. He had the chef set up a special four course meal for us and gifted the first and last course to us. He then chatted with us on departure. I think the conversations were as enjoyable to him as to us as we had a similar mindset about what a luxury hotel experience should be. A few weeks back when there was an earthquake in Bodrum, I dashed off a one line note of concern for he and his staff. He responded quickly, letting me know that everyone and the property were well.

I can remember two other specific instances where thru serendipity the hotel GM fell into conversation with us and we ended up having satisfying conversations about the hotel and their experiences. It's not something that can be forced but when a skilled GM engages, it creates a genuinely satisfying guest experience.

I recognize this is not to your point, KatW, but I hope it's of interest. I enjoy the questions that you pose.

Last edited by KatW; Aug 11, 17 at 7:21 pm
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Old Aug 11, 17, 7:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Jasper2009 View Post
number of guests who deal directly with GMs is disproportionately high here on FT. I'd say it's most common among (very) regular guests and guests frequenting ultra-luxury and small, luxury boutique hotels.
Originally Posted by KatW View Post
Bang on point, Jasper2009.
Originally Posted by KatW View Post
At very small, ultra-luxe venues (e.g., Laucala, Twin Farms) it's impossible NOT to meet the GM since he or she is ever present ensuring one has the grandest time.
Originally Posted by bhrubin View Post
At most hotels that aren't Aman, I don't meet the GM.
most here do not do it, at most luxury hotels

regulars here are not the average luxury traveler
(like other FlyerTalkers arent the average traveler)

and (small) amans (etc) are not the average luxury (chain) hotel
at aman it was almost brand standard (rafael, regent, rosewood?)
biggest exception was largest aman, amanpuri, because of villas

some FS GMs very hands on, or via PAs, especially for regulars
seem to recall similar at a few top MO (BKK) and Pen (tokyo?)
maybe a few LA GMs, i think all in past (a recurring theme)

some here have been regulars at hotels/brands for decades

william mackay, FS GM regarded well here >
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/luxur...l#post28571523
general manager directly taking a reservation from a travel partner (important though it may be) or responding to a guest complaint personally is involved at a very tactical level, that many management gurus would think inappropriate (if not fatal) in a business of our size and complexity; and yet this level of attention is one of our greatest points of difference. In the end, one has to delegate a lot, but there is a real art to “handing people off” to the appropriate people
bill black, 18 years at regent/FS >
[regent] hotels were the responsibility of the GM and success and /or failure rested squarely on his/her shoulders. GMs dealt directly with owners on most issues and the corporate office was there for support and guidance only if needed. Today, this same type of corporate structure seems to be working effectively at Adrian Zecha's Amanresorts

Last edited by Kagehitokiri; Aug 11, 17 at 8:25 pm
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