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Service Excellence 101: How to Serve a VIP

By Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM
June 7, 2011

When I was a line employee in the hotel business, I would usually be the person assigned to serve the VIP guests. Whether I was a server or a concierge, my managers trusted me to provide exceptional customer service to the CEO’s, celebrities, and royalty that would visit. In my manager’s minds, those guests needed “extra special service”. While I was flattered that my managers thought so highly of my customer service skills, I was always bothered by their assertion that some guests should get “better” treatment than others should. In my mind, all of my guests were VIP’s. I truly never made a distinction between how I served the supposed VIP’s and every other guest I had. In my heart, I felt (and still feel) that EVERYONE deserves excellent service, regardless of their socioeconomic status, job title, or any other label. For me, serving the Queen of England is just as honorable as serving Joe Smith, who is on vacation with his family of four.

First Class vs. Coach

As many of you know, I am a frequent traveler and one of the perks of travelling often is being upgraded to the first-class cabin. While I enjoy the larger seats and additional amenities, there is one thing that bothers me: I am often treated much nicer by the flight attendants in first-class, than when I am in coach. It’s like a completely different service experience, although I’m on the same plane.

A company that is truly striving to build a “world-class” service culture will make every effort to develop service standards that emphasize exceptional service for EVERY customer, all the time. Now, this does not mean that every customer should get the same service. True service excellence requires personalization and making each customer feel as though there is no one else, at that moment, more important than him or her. Using customer’s names and learning their preferences are two ways to accomplish personalized service.

Service is NOT about what you want to give

I have witnessed many occasions when someone tried to be engaging, but ended up annoying and disengaging the customer. For example, wrestling a suitcase from a guest who would rather carry it herself is annoying. Insisting on escorting a customer, when he has already declined your offer is annoying. Trying to establish an engaging dialogue, when it’s clear that the customer would rather be left alone is annoying. As I have written previously, service is not about what you want to give, it is about what the other person wants to receive.

Give “insider” tips

One of the best ways to make your customers feel like a VIP is by giving them insider information. In other words, making your customers feel like they are privy to valuable information that is not widely known (or at least they may perceive that the information is not widely known). For example, Enterprise Rent-a-Car has a service called, We’ll pick you up. This basically means that the Enterprise location, where you are renting the car, can send a shuttle to pick you up from wherever you are (home, office, etc.) and bring you back to their branch to rent the car. I recently saw an employee tell a customer about that service  and the customer was incredibly impressed. The customer commented that he thought that such service was only reserved for their big-shot clients.

At a recent trip to the CVS Pharmacy in our neighborhood, an employee saw a shopper looking at canned salmon (yes, CVS sells grocery items too). The employee proactively approached the shopper and told him that the salmon was half price, even though the displayed price did not reflect the reduced price. The employee explained that every week, the CVS sales paper contains deals that only those who subscribe to receive the sales paper, will know about. How do you think that shopper felt? You guessed it, like a VIP.

So, here are a few simple tips on how to serve everyone like a VIP:
  • Have a sense of urgency for everyone, regardless of their “status”.
  • Tell yourself, “this is the most important person I will serve today”.
  • Remind yourself that every customer has at least one preference. Challenge yourself to identify it, act on it, and share it with your team.
Everyone deserves to receive world-class service. Whether they are in a gas station, hospital, spa, hotel, bank, taxi, or airplane, excellent service is excellent service. Your customers will appreciate your eagerness to serve and reward you with their patronage, their referrals, and their loyalty.


"Dr. Williams energy, passion and "real-world" examples of Five Star Service resonated with our General Managers during our recent General Managers Conference.  He is an EXCELLENT investment towards our future growth strategies"

--Matthew A. Woodruff, Vice President, Guest and Brand Excellence

                                       Hospitality Ventures Management Group

I had the opportunity to attend one of Bryan’s webinars (about Service Superstars) along with others from the Taj Cape Town team. The session was extremely beneficial and was conducted in a highly professional manner. Our team here also took great advantage of this unique webinar and we were blessed by Bryan’s way of dazzling and delighting us with different views on approaching guests.   

            –Pravin Bancharam, Learning & Development Manager

  Taj Cape Town

View more testimonials by clicking here!


B.Williams Enterprise Updates: 

* If you haven't seen Bryan's new video clip about "Inform & Inspire", click here:

* Be sure to read our two new "Work Like You Own It!" blog entries. These new entries feature the world-class Taj Cape Town Resort in South Africa and Freshens Smoothies/Yogurt in Atlanta's Airport,

About the Author
Dr. Bryan K. Williams is the Chief Service Officer of B.Williams Enterprise, and the author of Engaging Service: 22 Ways to Become a Service Superstar. Bryan’s passion is world-class customer service, and has facilitated workshops and delivered keynotes all over the world for various companies.  He speaks on a variety of topics related to service excellence, employee engagement, and organizational improvement.  As a consultant, Bryan works closely with companies to design, develop, and implement sustainable service strategies. His company’s online store includes a growing collection of customer service products that are well-suited for your training library.


Order Bryan’s new book and other resources
 at the B.Williams Enterprise Online Store

Find more resources relating to service excellence at

Also on the website, you can subscribe to the official B.Williams Enterprise emailing list.  You will receive announcements, newsletters and other excellent resources.

-We exist to serve others so they may better serve the world


B. Williams Enterprise, LLC 
Phone: 240-401-6958 

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Also See: The 1st Step of Service: Be Eager to Serve / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / May 2011

World-Class Service: The Double-Platinum Rule 2.0 / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / April 2011

Customer Problem Resolution: The 100% Principle / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / March 2011

World-Class Service 102: Be memorable / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / February 2011

Take your service to the next level: Only BIG WOW’s…No bow-wow’s / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / February 2011

Service Excellence: Inspect What You Expect / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / November 2010

Work Like You Own It 2.0; Energize it. Recognize it. Celebrate it. / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / September 2010

World-Class Service 101: Know the difference between meeting and exceeding expectations / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / July 2010

Service Superstars Part 2: Treat them like they own it! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / June 2010

Make each touchpoint memorable: Cha-Ching! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / April 2010

Service Superstars: Work like you own it! / Bryan Williams / February 2010

Complimentary resources from Bryan K. Williams and B.Williams Enterprise! Begin 2010 with a focus on world-class service. / January 2010

Service Ambassadors: The Key to Providing World-Class Service / Bryan K. Williams / November 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 3 / Bryan K. Williams / September 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 2 / Bryan K. Williams / August 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 1/ Bryan K. Williams / July 2009

Engaging Service: 22 Ways to Become a Service Superstar / Bryan K. Williams / July 2009

Complimentary tele-seminars with Bryan K. Williams in July! / July 2009

Building a Team of Living It Employees / Bryan K. Williams / June 2009

World-Class Service: What if every employee served like a concierge? / Byran K Williams / March 2009

5 Star Leadership: What Does It Take to Be a 5-star Leader? / Byran Williams / February 2009

5 Stars vs. 4 Stars: What’s the Difference? / Byran Williams / January 2009

Complimentary training with Bryan Williams / January 2009

The 7 Principles of EngageMeTM is now available! / Bryan K. Williams / November 2008

Hiring and Engaging a World-Class Team / Bryan K. Williams / October 2008

Great Ideas for National Customer Service Week 2008 / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service Part 3: Company Service Standards / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service Pt. 2: Personal Service Standards / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service: Function vs. Purpose / Bryan K. Williams / August 2008

Guest Problem Resolution 101: Power of the Follow-Up / Bryan K. Williams / June 2008

7 Principles to Fully Engage Your Customers – Part 2 / Bryan K. Williams / May 2008

7 Principles to Fully Engage Your Customers / Bryan K. Williams / April 2008

I Am a Service Professional™ / Bryan K. Williams / March 2008

Engage Every Customer…One Touchpoint at a Time / Bryan K. Williams / January 2008

Engaging Service Part 2: It’s All About the Culture / Bryan K. Williams / December 2007

Engaging Service Part 1: Not Just for the Chic / Bryan K. Williams / November 2007

Service Excellence: A Destination or a Journey? / Bryan K. Williams / October 2007

National Customer Service Week is Coming Soon - October 1-5, 2007 / September 2007

National Customer Service Week is Coming Soon - October 1-5, 2007 / September 2007

Engage Me…the Voice of Your Customer / September 2007

Customer Engagement: Where do we begin? / Byran K Williams / August 2007

Engage Me…the Voice of Your Customer / / August 2007

B. Williams Enterprise, LLC Launches Engage Me…  the Voice of Your Customer / August 2007

To Engage…Listen to the Voice of Your Customer / Byran K Williams / August 2007

To Engage the Guest, You Must Engage Those Who Directly Serve the Guest / Byran K Williams / July 2007

Three Service Rules: The Golden Rule, Platinum Rule, and Double Platinum Rule/ Byran K Williams / June 2007

The Greatest Bellman I Ever Met… / Bryan K. Williams / April 2006

Sorry to Say…But Some People Should Not be Serving Other Human Beings / Bryan K Williams / October 2006

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