Digital Butlers: The Evolution of the Butler’s Profession in the Face of New Forms of Technology
New forms of technology have had significant impacts on various professions in the hotel industry. My meeting with Robert Mauchamp on the latest technology shows just how important it is to stay abreast of evolutions in order to be as up to date as possible on clients’ habits. I encourage you to hear from Robert Mauchamp about first his background, followed by his opinion on the impact of the digital age on the butler’s profession.
In the collective imagination, the butler is at once the symbol of expertise and know-how. Given the profession’s renowned level of rigor, how did you become a butler? What were your sources of motivation?
Yes, I can confirm that the butler’s job is a difficult one that requires excellence at all times. For my part, I had a hotelier’s background, which helped me out a lot on my path to becoming a butler; it was even a ‘MUST.’ A hotelier by trade, I enhanced my career by traveling and especially by diversifying my job experiences, from being a waiter, maitre d’hôtel, restaurant manager, then a hotel manager, and a hotel school professor. This allowed me the opportunity to develop and train private air stewardesses, for instance.
After that, I met Robert Watson, who led the association of British butlers. He was very good at explaining the butler’s profession to me. The rest came naturally, with lots of reading, internships, and knowledge-building. My sources of motivation today remain the transmission of pleasure, the pleasure in giving pleasure to others, and acting in service to people.
In order to be a butler, the most important thing is adopting the mentality, the expertise, the know-how. Many people these are days are motivated by the incomes that our profession can offer. In my opinion, these people should reconsider their goals before going forward. The advantages are significant and can definitely be valuable. But the most rewarding element comes about in the satisfaction of providing pleasure, creating exceptional moments, offering a unique service, and finally, meeting wonderful people and constantly enlarging our network.
What has been the impact of the latest technology in your profession and the personalization of your services?
The movement toward the digital has translated into an enormous stride in the butler profession these days. It is more important than ever to know all the various technologies related to the complexities of our career. Software, home automation, communication, security system, and many others. Our employers are the kind of people who live 100 miles an hour. They are constantly on the search for excellence and are obsessed with the latest technology. Their homes are equipped with smart kitchens, video surveillance systems, home automation, etc. We remain connected on social media, and we use different applications and the internet to find the ‘fronts’ of our profession.
Training courses for butlers do not spend enough time on this subject, which is becoming increasingly very important. There’s nothing worse than coming up short on a professional interview in front of this kind of tough question: “Do you know your way around automation systems, are you familiar with using the brand with the small apple, can you use Outlook, Excel, etc.?” Our work is about assisting our clients on these very tools.
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.