Service professions devoted to the art of welcoming in partnership with the association O’Service
This organization led by Denis Courtiade is devoted to restoring meaning and value to service careers. The organization holds as its objective to unite agents working in the French service profession to better advise service professionals of today and the future.Fabien Rivière is manager of Studio Restaurant at Montage Hotel in Laguna Beach in California. As a member of the O’Service organization led by Denis Courtiade, he struck me as a great subject for telling us more about the notion of service and the art of welcoming in the United States.
He has been working in the United States since 1997, with a brief stint in Hong Kong. He holds a rich experience in several fine restaurants and hotels (Hotel Pierre, Mandalay Bay Resort, Peninsula Hong Kong). His testimony on the importance of service and the French art of welcoming in luxury hotels promises to be a source of inspiration for all of us.
What is your personal definition or vision of the art of welcoming? You have traveled extensively and worked in several countries; based on your experience, how is the French art of welcoming viewed throughout the world?
My personal definition of the art of welcoming is, quite simply, to put oneself in the client’s shoes. By developing this instinct, we can understand and anticipate their desires. At the heart of our profession, it is all about reading the client, and this kind of perception takes years of experience.
France has always been regarded as best-in-class in the art of welcoming across the entire world. We have culinary roots that are recognized and respected everywhere in the world. With that said, we cannot afford to stop improving and questioning what we do because the competition coming from other countries and continents, such as Asia, is ferocious.
What are the keys to success today for guaranteeing an exclusive client experience?
The key to success is knowledge in general, whether this is knowledge about cuisine, the hotel, or another expertise. It’s also about demonstrating a passion to host and serve. You have to know how to take of the client, which means taking the time to listen to the client.
As someone who has worked in luxury hotels like the Peninsula and who currently works in a fine restaurant like Studio Restaurant, what is your view on the relation between a hotelier and a chef, between the hotel and the restaurant? How, if at all, is the restaurant connected to the spirit of the hotel?
The world of restaurants and hotels has greatly evolved, particularly in terms of the communication between the hotelier and the chef. Today, whether you are working for a restaurant or a hotel, you have the same ethos. It’s about delivering the ultimate experience for our client because once again, competition is intense, and there is no room for error.
Each employee is an ambassador of the hotel and a promise of the services you can expect. What actions have you put in place to involve your teams in the successfully fulfilled promise of the client experience? How do you motivate them to give the best of themselves?
There are several actions that I put in place. For me, knowledge of the products and services we offer is extremely important. I want each of my employees to have a very good knowledge of the menu, the wine list, the cocktail list, and so on. My employees have a written and verbal test every week. For me, communication is very important. I motivate my team by sharing information on the clients who stay with us, and I give them much of the feedback we receive from the client. We are always in the process of reviewing our systems. And the members of the staff who perform well are always promoted. If a person demonstrates his motivation every day, there is always an opportunity to allow him to progress.
Laurent Delporte, an editor and conference speaker, is a strategic expert in the sector of hotels. A visionary, he brings his unique look on hotels in service to the decision-makers in the industry, whether to enhance the development of new projects or strategic visions.
Laurent has visited and audited over 350 hotels across the world and also participates in mystery visits to provide quality control for the world’s finest hotels.