1. What is the Portman Hotel business model and what was the personal valet arrangement trying to accomplish?
The Portman Hotel was created by John C. Portman in 1987. The business model of the Portman Hotel was setting Asian luxury hotels standards of hospitality in America. It was a niche product, a revolution in guest service and style of service.
Patrick Mene, vice president and managing director, was the man set in place to see this vision through. He knew the surrounding competition was tough and this emphasis on high service was going to be difficult to achieve at affordable rates. The guest supposed not to encounter just world class service but an experience. The way this was to be accomplished was by introducing personal valets, which were actually butlers assigned to provide comprehensive personal services in front line. The personal valets were to be key competitive advantage.
2. Why wasn’t the original system working? What were the problems faced?
In the beginning a majority of the people hired as personal valet’s were excited to be part of a new concept in the hotel business while others saw this as an opportunity to support their passion. The personal valet’s went through a two week orientation and training which was not long enough for them to fully grasp their very broad job duties.
While the personal valet’s were crucial to the Portman’s business strategy they often felt they were thought of by other hotel employees as just maids. As a group they were unhappy about the disorganization within the hotel and felt that the hotel had no central character, organization or structure.
In an effort to reduce the layers of management and keep labor cost down the managers ended up being spread too thin. Within the operating plan, there wasn’t a firm plan in place for the day to day functions of the personal valet’s. They were expected to figure out what to do on their own since they had an extremely broad job description with little guidance causing...