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Celebrating Mediocracy!

By Fritz Kummer
October 2012

Before I get into this article I want to make it UNEQUVOCALLY clear that I have absolutely nothing against Ritz Carlton Hotels or the Ritz Carlton organization.  In actuality, to this day, the example I always cite as the most exceptional individual example of service I ever received occurred at the Ritz Carlton-Buckhead thirty-some years ago!  Unfortunately, they scored at the top of the 2012 JD Powers guest service survey and this article is about a frightening trend involving ALL hotel company’s scores related back to “the best.” And, though it may appear to some that I have a bone to pick with Ritz Carlton - NOTHING can be further from the truth!”
   
Ever since I saw the 2012 JD Power’s report on guest service, or lack there of, in the hospitality/hotel business and read a subsequent article where the author urged fellow hotel professionals not to fret because things were not as bad as the rating organization made it out to look I have not been able to get either totally out of my mind.  I am sure such is in part due to me being in the process of writing an e-book on personnel issues and service in the industry I have spent my entire career in; but more specifically - how poorly literally every organization ranked had scored, including top “VOTE” getter, Ritz Carlton did!  While JD Powers, in their accompanying press release, made note of how the scores have been declining for seven consecutive years someone who works in the industry without any reservations was able to totally brush aside such a damming and disturbing fact (based on Powers’ studies) and tries to calm everyone’ fears of the true state of the industry and service in it.  While such a trend may be somewhat, if not totally, understandable if the noted length of this debilitating drift had been noted for but three or four years, thereby coinciding with the historically poor economic times we are only now starting to come out of, the fact that it began THREE years before everything went in the tank makes it most definitely something that everyone in the business of hospitality should very much take to heart and be frighteningly concerned about.
 
What was even more shocking to me than the hotel company’s scores and the noted article is what I found out a few hours before starting to write this article.  That being - regardless of an individual organization’s score, if they are the recipient of the highest marks in their respective segment they receive the JD Powers award for that category – again REGARDLES OF SCORE in relation to an organization’s achievement of any true level of exceptional service.  Though, I was always cognizant of organizations, regardless of industry or field, that received and often boasted receipt of the same I was shocked to hear from a member in the JD Powers organization confirm my fear that there was NO defined minimum level of performance that must have been achieved in order for the “award” to be given.
 
This particular aspect was really driven home by the trials and tribulations that my youngest son (with a 4.0 weighted GPA and a 2,000-plus SAT score) went through earlier this year applying to colleges.  Despite having consistently excelled in his studies for FOUR consecutive years he was NOT accepted at either of his two preferred schools.   Conversely, if the score for Ritz Carlton were extrapolated and converted to a letter grade and related GPA (a 864 score “equals” 86.4% or a “B” average or approximately a 3.0 GPA) – not even the Valedictorian of the hospitality industry would have received even cursory consideration for acceptance into any ivy league, “little-ivy,” or any of the other top-tier institution of higher education in the United States, Canada or Great Britain – if anywhere in the world.  Furthermore, TWO award recipients achieved but a “C” level grades (or a 2.0 GPA) while eight (8) organizations’ scores translates into D’s and three others FLUNKED! And, as an industry these scores have been on a SEVEN-YEAR SLIDE!  If that is not a record to be concerned about - I don’t know what is!
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About the Author:
Fritz Kummer has been recognized by peers as one of the most knowledgeable and effective executives in the hospitality industry. He brings over twenty-five years of experience in the field to his writing and thinking. During those years he covered just about every operational position in a hotel, and more than a dozen management positions spanning the three major property divisions (Sales, Food & Beverage and Rooms). He readily attributes his successes to the efforts of the top notch and challenging people he surrounded himself with.

He has been the architect of aggressive and comprehensive programs that restored service levels and resulting revenue at multiple underperforming hotel properties. As General Manager, he consistently significantly improved service and business metrics, enabling significant rate increases that resulted in record high revenues and profitability while also expanding the respective property's market penetration.

As Executive VP and COO of the Adam's Mark Hotel chain, he led his business unit to unprecedented growth that eclipsed the already strong performance of the parent company's other business lines.
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Contact:

Fritz Kummer
412.491.5300
fritz@asehospitality.com


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Also See:
The Hospitality Industry and Some of the Personnel Challenges it Faces! / Fritz Kummer / August 2010


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