Four Seasons Case Study

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Case Preparatory Questions and Topics:

1. What is it like to stay at a Four Seasons? Your survey should categorize elements of experiences into two categories: tangible (what) and intangible (how) elements of service.

When I was about ten years old I had the pleasure of staying in a Four Seasons hotel in Miami, Florida. My family decided to go down for the week to visit my relatives and just enjoy the beautiful Miami weather. To this day I have never stayed in a superior hotel than that Four Seasons. Every element of that hotel was absolutely stunning and even though you may think it was because I was young that I am saying this, I can assure you the Four Seasons will “wow” you.

To start, right when we pulled up to the hotel there were people opening our car doors for us and greeting us with a friendly smile. I had never seen this before and thought it was very exciting. As we went inside I was amazed at how elegant and spacious the lobby was. It looked like we were staying in a castle. Next, right away we were up to the reception desk almost instantly, which usually never happens, and were then given our room. Our bags were brought up for us and the room was incredible. The rest of our stay was a blast. They had the most extravagant pool that I still remember to this day, and everything was about 15 to 25 minute from us. We had so many memorable experiences in the area, and each time we returned the doormen genuinely seemed so happy to see us. The restaurant was delicious and so was the room service, which seemed to come immediately after you ordered it. All of these amenities made our stay at the Four Seasons a vacation to remember.

It’s easy to list off the tangible things but what about the intangibles, the things that you cannot see or touch. I would say the most interesting intangible quality was the atmosphere of the hotel. Every time you came or went, all of the employees seemed to be so happy to see you and all the other guests were also very cheery. The hotel was incredibly clean and nice to look. When it was time to leave, I did not want to go. The Four Seasons managed to make me feel right at home even though we were hundreds of miles away. The way the employees conduct themselves and pride they had truly made for a great experience.

2. What has made Four Seasons successful over the last 30 years? Remember that all service firms espouse the “golden rule”, so what differentiated Four Seasons from the pack (converting words into behaviors). Hint: think in terms of ‘human resource levers’.

Four Seasons has been successful over the last 30 years due to its ‘just for you’ customer service type attitude. Observers called Four Seasons a “consistently exceptional service”, which Four Seasons defined as providing high quality, truly personalized service to enable guests to maximize the value of their time, however the guest defined doing so.

The management structure and team also has a key role in the success of the company. The general manager is put in control of a single property, which allows the general manager to solely focus on improving his or her own property and devote all of his or her time to doing so. The general managers are paid bonuses depending on how well they do. The bonuses are determined based on employee attitudes, service quality, and property profit. This drives the managers to focus on improving their properties as well as trying to maximize profit. The firms top managers are comfortable in a variety of international settings and can be “Italian in Italy” or “French in France.” This means that the managers can relate to the area in which the property is located and will allow the guests of the hotel to feel a truly local experience while visiting a country. Excuses and bragging are not allowed at Four Seasons, Four Seasons helps and makes sure employees know everything that they need to know in order to get their jobs done to the best of...
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