Four Seasons Goes to Paris

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A. What has made Four Seasons successful over the last 30 years? A number of main factors have contributed to the success of Four Seasons over the last 30 years. To begin with, Four Seasons has had an exceptional management team and structure that has had the ability to deliver and maintain its highest and most consistent service standards at each property in a cost-effective manner. These top managers were all world citizen, which means that they are able to act as the local citizens in any country around the world; for example, Italian in Italy, French in France. They were very professional, not pretentious, detail oriented, interested in people, and compassionate. Also, excuses were not tolerated, and customer service would be provided from all levels in the organization, such as managers routinely helped clear restaurant tables in passing.

Moreover, Four Seasons has achieved its goal of providing an international hotel to the business or luxury leisure traveler looking for comfort and service. Having the strength of being both diverse and unique, meaning while keeping the essence of the local culture, the process for opening and operating a hotel stays the same, each of their hotels is tailor made and adapted to its national environment. For instance, in their Istanbul hotel, guests would know that they will get 24-hour room service, a custom-made mattress, and a marble bathroom, but they also know that they are going to be part of a local community in Turkey. From a design perspective they are much cleverer than other companies because according to David Richey, when you sit in the Four Seasons in Bali, you feel that you are in Bali. Four Seasons have just done an exceptional job adapting to local markets. They have the ability to be a cultural chameleon because the Four Seasons’ brand does not rigidly define what the product is; instead its brand is associated with intangibles. Since they are an international company, they never stop learning or innovating. They learned from each country and property, and take their learning across borders in order to innovate and give the best service possible to their guests.

In addition, they have globally uniform standards. The seven Four Seasons “service culture standards” which all staff around the world are expected to follow are the employee guideline of being emotion labour. The word “service” is an acronym for smile, eye, recognition, voice, informed, clean, and everyone. Four Seasons also had 270 core worldwide operating standards that include specific missions, and detailed criteria for each mission. For instance, during reservations, the mission is to provide crisp, knowledgeable, and friendly service, sensitive to the guest’s time and dedication to finding the most suitable accommodation. One of the two criteria for this mission is after establishing the reason for the guest visit, the reservationist automatically describes the guest room colourfully, attempting to have the guest picture himself or herself in the room. Due to Four Season's extensive coverage, standards were often written to allow local flexibility which has contributed their success. Based on the flexibility element, managers often encourage employees to do something for a client that goes beyond a standard, so the standards only set minimum expectations. Perhaps many companies also implement their own standards, but Four Seasons did something further than this. Four Seasons not only implemented and enforced their standards, they also evaluated each property’s performance against it. They used both external and internal auditors because they believed that their standards were the foundation for all of their properties, and it helped to shape relationships between stakeholders.

Delivering intelligent, anticipatory, and enthusiastic service worldwide, along with the tangible elements are Four Seasons most important elements of their success. Also, they recognize the difference in the perception...
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