The making of ladies and gentleman

Jamie Knights goes behind the scenes on a Ritz-Carlton induction

The new recruits with their trainers at the Ritz-Carlton DIFC.
The new recruits with their trainers at the Ritz-Carlton DIFC.

Has Hotelier's Jamie Knights got what it takes to understand the Ritz-Carlton ‘Credo’ or is it just another hotel group’s standard induction?

Global officer worldwide operations, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Bob Kharazmi says the first days of training are “crucial” at Ritz-Carlton, when new employees are taken out of their comfort zone.

In a bid to more fully understand what they go through — and what it means to be ‘Ritz-Carlton’ — I went behind the scenes of a two-day training induction.

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First, I received a heads-up from The Ritz-Carlton Dubai International Financial Centre general manager Lothar Quarz and Celina Abdullah, the property’s director of learning, to get the background on the recruitment process.

Every potential employee’s profile is linked with certain talents and in one of the interviews three department heads from different departments to the one recruiting are present. All must agree on the candidate before they are hired.

I sense I may be a little out of my league at this stage…but it was straight into the induction.

A highly-animated Quarz, himself embodying the passion expected of Ritz-Carlton workers, explains that attention to detail is critical.

Quarz uses the example of noticing a guest of the hotel who is left handed.
“Imagine if he arrives at his dinner reservation in the hotel and we have set his place for the comfort of a left-handed person. That is where you act on the unexpressed wishes of the guest.”

It all sounds great — but how do you manage to get your staff to this level of observation?

Ready for Induction
As I sit in my first induction session with the group of new employees, I read the name and position cards in front of each person. All levels are present, from directors of sales and quality controllers to maintenance crew and F&B personnel.

Some are more outgoing than others, but all are equal and given the same responsibilities in terms of the duty of care to the guest and the responsibility to make that guest’s stay special.

We go through the elements of the Credo card, some of the recruits take part in a morning line up and the property’s daily announcements are made.

A list of guests checking in is handed around including all their special details, such as what type of milk they like in their coffee or their favourite football teams.

We are then given presentations by various department heads and the group interacts with Abdullah as she reinforces the company ethos.

On a breakout I chat with my fellow inductees, all clearly proud to be Ritz-Carlton and keen to put into action the values they are being taught in the induction.

Before I know it I have discussed my favourite football team, my relationship status and many other things beside — the employees certainly have a knack for finding out the details.

One recruit tells me they have worked in hospitality for many years, but they couldn’t believe that the general manager (Quarz) had spent a whole day with them.

It had impressed them and you could sense the move had paid dividends — just as Kharazmi told me, it’s all based on respect.

The philosophies and lessons being taught are ones that we could all do with
taking on board, not just in our professional lives, but in our personal ones as well.

But the most important thing I discovered was that the Ritz-Carlton experience — its methods, its quirks — are 100% genuine.

Those that choose to follow the Ritz-Carlton path are people seeking perfection in service standards and guest experiences — and you’re unlikely to cut it if this isn’t your number one priority. Looks like it’s back to the day job for me…

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