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W Dallas Had 3,000 Applications for 200 Positions; 
Wit, Whimsy Are Keywords for W Staffers in Training
By Suzanne Marta, The Dallas Morning News
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Jun. 8, 2006 - Dallas-resident Chauncey Taylor wanted to work for the W from the minute he learned the stylish upscale hotel would be opening in his hometown.

"I've been training for two years for this," Mr. Taylor said, beaming as he left the opening employee rally Wednesday morning.

The former customer service rep has never worked in the hotel industry, but was drawn to W's focus on candidates' sense of "wit and whimsy," rather than experience.

"I'm just ecstatic to be here and be a part of it," Mr. Taylor said.

About 400 employees for the W and its partner restaurants and other businesses that will operate in the hotel began an intensive 10-day training program to learn the W's special brand of service and style.

Employees will even have a chance in coming weeks to experience the W Dallas Victory first hand, as guests in the hotel and as patrons in its restaurants, bars and spa.

Once the hotel opens June 21, employees -- who are called "talent" in W-speak -- should give guests "whatever they want, whenever they want it, unless it's illegal," said W president Ross Klein.

The idea is that if employees are empowered to act, the hotel will have a better chance at driving loyalty to the brand, and in turn, revenue.

For example, if employees overhear that a guest is celebrating a birthday or anniversary, they should do something special to acknowledge that -- a surprise bottle of champagne or something else that fits with the guest's personal taste.

"Every one of you is an experience engineer," Mr. Klein said to a room of new hires.

The W is still hiring for about 15 positions, but there's plenty of competition.

The hotel received about 3,000 applications for nearly 200 positions.

Operators of the hotel's other onsite businesses employ an additional 250 people.

The rally Wednesday was the first step in teaching employees how to emulate the W's flirty style.

Guests at W should feel like they're insiders, and like they can have an escape from the ordinary during their stay.

"We treat everyone like they're a celebrity," Mr. Klein said.

The W's personalized approach has proved successful since the brand was launched in 1998.

The W's 20 hotels regularly command room rates that are $30 to $60 above its peers and attract guest stays that are a day longer than the industry average.

In Dallas, room rates are slated to start at $309 -- twice the average downtown rate of $152.

E-mail smarta@dallasnews.com

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Copyright (c) 2006, The Dallas Morning News

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