The level of dedication and professionalism exemplified by the Taj employees to their guests in the article “Heroes of Taj” really tugged at my heartstrings, to think that people would sacrifice their life to complete their job. It could not have been accomplished without a strong corporate culture.
Being a tourism student before entering NUS, The Ritz Carlton would always be an example when citing exemplary service and its corporate culture is the essence of it all. Ex-CEO Simon Cooper mentions that the key to building The Ritz Carlton’s successful corporate culture is trust that the management and its employees would live the values required by the organisation. With the culture revolving around the motto “we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen”, it requires all employees in all departments to put their ladies and gentlemen at their top priority. The video below shows the exemplary service provided by The Ritz Carlton’s internal ladies and gentlemen, to ladies and gentlemen worldwide.
Similar to Taj Hotels, they too take recruiting the right people very seriously by picking candidates that fit with their strong service culture rather than their technical skills, simply because skills are trainable while values and attitudes are not. There are also strong consistency in its training by introducing “The 12 Service Values,” “The Credo,” “The Three Steps of Service,” “The 6th Diamond” to be practiced by all employees throughout all properties worldwide, which aided employees in guiding their responses to managing uncertainty.
Another aspect of how The Ritz Carlton strengthens its culture is through employee empowerment that would encourage ethnocentrism amongst employees. The organisation entrusted employees to spend up to $2000 on a guest per accident and having that trust resulted in The Ritz Carlton gaining its employee’s loyalty such that their turnover is lower than industry average. And I would like to share an example of excellent service at The Ritz Carlton. A kid left his soft toy in the hotel room after checkout and when they arrived back home, his dad requested the hotel to take a photo of the toy before it was sent over because the boy was feeling depressed. The next day, the dad received a few photos and a note stating that the toy is currently enjoying a holiday at The Ritz Carlton property by the beach, playing golf and enjoying a spa. This is really something unexpected, a pleasant way to delight both the kid and the dad while showing the company’s culture through small and consistent touches. This could only be possible with cultural fit between the employee and the organisation as shared beliefs and priorities would assist them in coming up with fun and creative solutions. This really showed me a lot as to how much they feel engaged and enjoy their job at The Ritz Carlton. They too have a habit to share “wow” stories among employees before work officially start and I feel that it creates positive communication, puts everyone on the same page and provide creative ideas for employees to delight their guests in similar situations.
Another similarity between The Taj Hotels and The Ritz Carlton was that both were involved in terrorist incidents. In 2009, there was a fatal blast at The Ritz Carlton Jakarta by suicide bombers. What kept me thinking was why were there different responses between the two incidents. While the Taj garnered support, The Ritz Carlton’s occupancy rates dropped after its opening, there were no local support like in the Taj case, American businessmen were interviewed stating that they would not be back and companies had The Ritz Carlton blacklisted for future corporate trips.
Perhaps it was due to the type of terrorist attack. The explosion at The Ritz Carlton was immediate; there was no chance for the employees to evacuate their guests or opportunity to showcase them putting their guest first. While, the gunmen at Taj held on for hours, enabling the employees to showcase their selfless acts, made painful decisions and put their guest above all, which was inline with their culture. Or perhaps to the local Indonesian community, The Ritz Carlton was merely an overseas investment property, a hotel for the rich, without any significant meaning to the people, while the Taj was symbolic to the Indians that they were eager to provide their full support. Another possible reason was that there were previous bombings at The Ritz Carlton Jakarta and there is a probability that it could be a future terrorist target as well, thus reducing the safety perception of the hotel. However, I do like to note that if it was a lesser-known overseas brand, it could have gone out of business, rather than having the ability to hold out and rebuild, just like The Ritz Carlton did.