What is luxury hospitality?
Written by: Renata Balla
What is luxury hospitality? From gilded rooms to sprawling, expansive swimming pools, caviar and the finest delicacies served with world-class silver service, a variety of images may spring to your mind. Transfer this term to super yachts and we venture into a world that includes even more exceptional additions – missile detection systems, bulletproof windows, underwater viewing rooms, Hammam beauty centres and helicopter hangars.
One of the world’s most luxurious yachts – History Supreme – includes a particularly rare and opulent decoration – a real dinosaur bone from a T-Rex mounted on a wall, in the yacht’s sleeping quarters.
The latter is just one example of how subjective the term luxury can be for different individuals – it can be reduced almost entirely to their unique tastes and preferences. This is just one of the factors that makes our industry so rich, rewarding and endlessly curious.
A 7* service is a concept that has emerged over recent years to distinguish a more superior service to 5*. It tends to be characterised by a more personalised service – perhaps one of the most fundamental components for creating those ‘goosebump moments’ that mark the difference between a wonderful experience and an unforgettable experience. How can you ensure that you and your crew achieve this for your guests, and keep them returning for more?
Take your service from good to excellent, with the ‘Art of Service’
Before you provide exceptional service, you need to build an exceptional team who are tuned into your guests’ individual needs, preferences and interests. When you have a team working to their optimum across all departments – from food and beverage to housekeeping, and laundry – they will be more motivated to come up with imaginative ways to surprise and delight your guests, before they’re even asked.
These will be unique to different guests but could include signature ‘latte art’ in their morning coffee, fixing loose buttons on their garments, adding a fresh twist – inspired by local ingredients – to their evening cocktail, or lighting their favourite candle before they return to the yacht at night.
It’s these inspired and imaginative touches that will ensure a guest feels really special and cared for.
And when they’re combined with luxurious surroundings, exquisite food and drinks and special time with family and/or friends, they all culminate to create an unforgettable experience.
Take the guest preference list to a more imaginative level
It’s fundamental that everything onboard must be to the highest specification – from the AVIT, to the lighting and accommodation. But more importantly, it must be to your guests’ tastes. Before you can provide a luxurious guest experience, you need to discover what luxurious means to your guests.
While one guest may consider the Emirates Palace to be the epitome of luxury another may consider Hawaiian boho-chic as more desirous.
But a luxurious experience is not reliant on visual surroundings only – it must encompass all of the senses from gustatory to olfactory. A guest preference list is a fundamental tool to help you discover your guests’ preferences. But it’s important to bring it to life in a way that whets their appetite and invokes their curiosity in imaginative ways. If there’s a particular cuisine they enjoy, ask your chef to recreate it using local ingredients from one of the locations you visit. If they’re a fan of a particular artist, source a piece of work that emulates their style. If they enjoy a particular genre of music, create a unique selection of playlists for them.
It’s also important to regularly liaise with their Pas or bodyguards before the trip to help you build a more nuanced psychological profile of your guests. What do they really want and desire? For some guests, luxury is defined by more intangible qualities than opulent finishings – it’s the luxury of precious quality time with their family, anonymity and privacy from the prying eyes of the public. If this is the case, then you need to have a crew that you can trust to be discreet.
You can improve your team’s skill to read and intuit your guests by investing in their own ability to understand themselves and their fellow team members. Although this may come more naturally to some, it is a skill that can be developed with practice.
Help every member of your team to uncover their purpose
From linen storage and care, to flower design and Barista techniques, it’s imperative your team receive technical training from experts who have worked in the luxury yacht industry.
But before each person can be trained to perform their role to the highest standard, they need a sturdy foundation to build upon. This starts with uncovering their ‘why’, or purpose for choosing their role. Why have they chosen the work they do? What motivates them and where do their inherent strengths and challenges lie? Understanding and answering these questions will help them to value themselves and others on a more empathic level. From this renewed, energised perspective, they begin to unlock a state of flow that means they’re more inclined to make a difference in their own and others’ lives. This is the point where great service begins and they can perform their job to their optimum.
Recruit and retain the best staff
Your crew is everything – they’re what makes your guests return. Retaining crew has historically been a challenge in this industry and it continues to be so. But it’s a crucial one to tackle as it’s longevity that helps to create stability for the yacht owner – most guests prefer to see familiar faces aboard, especially if privacy, safety and discretion are of prime concern.
Personality profiling can give you a deeper insight into the natural strengths of the person you’re considering hiring – for example, those with a lot of inherent blaze or supporter energy will typically be more people-focused. It is also important that you recruit people who are resilient and able to cope with the unique challenges of life onboard, for example, living in confined spaces. However, even if you recruit a team with the perfect balance of skills and/or natural strengths, retaining them will always come down to effective leadership.
We can take your team’s level of service from good to excellent, by nurturing nine specific qualities that we nurture throughout all our training. Find out more here.