Secret Passageways

Jun 25, 2021


Discover the hidden component to creating a 5-Star experience when serving others by being polite, attentive, discreet, and anticipatory.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of working at one of my favorite places on earth! I was invited to help facilitate a board retreat at The Broadmoor. According to the Forbes Travel Guide system, The Broadmoor is the “original and longest-running 5-Star hotel in the world.”1 Those five stars are not easy to earn. In addition to luxury accommodations, a standalone concierge staff must be available at least 16 hours a day along with 24-hour reception, room service, valet parking, butler, and doorman. The staff must be multilingual and outnumber rooms by 2.5 to 1.2

…Consistently flawless excellence is the expectation. ~ Five Star Alliance

Most notably, the guest elevators must be separate from staff elevators. This separation of guest and staff corridors became evident when I wanted to confirm the exact location of my conference room. When I asked a staff member to provide directions, he simply had no idea how to guide me since he had always used the hidden staff passageways.

Suddenly, I was in the bowels of the building dodging over-stacked carts, ducking through doors, and darting between kitchens. Obviously, he was accustomed to walking very quickly-- no doubt to provide flawless excellence. And, yet, not listed as a 5-Star expectation (which includes “at least four types of spa treatments” and “luggage storage out of guest view”2) was ushering a guest through secret hallways. By solving my problem over following the rules, he provided the most helpful (and memorable) experience of my entire stay.

The Five Star Alliance further defines 5-Star staff behaviors as:2

  1. Polite: Think tactful, considerate, refined, and elegant. Polite team members are kind, calm, and well-mannered. They make people feel respected, so guests spend more time on location.
  2. Attentive: Think alert, observant, perceptive, and focused. Attentive team members are aware, diligent, and thoughtful. They make people feel understood, so guests recommend the experience.
  3. Discreet: Think prudent, careful, tight-lipped, and subtle. Discreet team members are tasteful, restrained, and diplomatic. They make people feel protected, so guests visit more often.
  4. Anticipatory: Think eager, expectant, interested, and watchful. Anticipatory team members are insightful, responsive, and decisive. They make people feel valued, so guests spend more money.

I must insist that the luxury experience is about how it makes people feel. Scurrying through the staff passageways made me feel there was no limit to what was possible when accommodating my personal needs. Perhaps we should add resourceful or limitless to the 5-Star staff behaviors-- assuming that guiding guests past restricted storage areas and tight hallways is not in the training manual. What behaviors or accommodations make you feel special? How do you feel when they are missing? Most importantly, how can you make people feel respected, understood, protected, and valued at work and at home?

Sources: Forbes: The Broadmoor, The Original Forbes 5-Star Resort, Greets The Second Roaring ’20s In A 103-Year History; 2 Five Star Alliance: What is a 5-Star Hotel?.

by Michelle Sugerman • Leading Synergies, LLC • © All Rights Reserved

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