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    The Portman Hotel – Case Study Essay

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    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Portman Hotel was built with the intent of being a 5 star hotel that provided superior service to its guests. This superior service centered around a business plan that was based on Asian standards of hospitality. The Portman Hotel executives were committed to keeping both their guest and employees happy. The vision that would separate The Portman from the competition was “personal valets” (PVs). These PVs were responsible to every need of a guest.

    This included everything from cleaning and restocking the rooms, to more personalized services like pressing the guest’s clothes, preparing the guest’s drinks, or drawing a guest’s bath. As long the requests from the guests were legal and moral it was the PVs obligation to meet the request. The first year of operations at The Portman was difficult. The hotel had committed to hiring top quality people by utilizing SRI, a recruiting and development firm. However, there was only a two week orientation and training period for new employees.

    The staff was originally designed to be very flat structurally, thereby eliminating many levels of hierarchical management and overhead costs. The hotel also did not have a solid plan at the operating (PV) level for all of the day to day functions. Due to the lack of training and no standard operating procedures, many employees were confused and frustrated daily. Over the course of ten months the hotel had attempted several different ways to eliminate chaos, confusion, and distrust among the PVs.

    Toward the end of the year the hotel occupancy began to rapidly increase causing management to rapidly hire more PVs. The rapid hiring resulted in compromising on hiring the best personnel for the positions and a further reduced capability to adequately train the new employees. As the Portman Hotel experiences higher than expected occupancy it must find a system to engage the personal valets in order to provide to the hotel guests the level of service required of the Portman Hotel.

    While they have struggled in the past, the PV’s that remain with the hotel still believe and are committed to the hotel’s mission. The Portman must use that commitment to engage the new recruits and design a performance management system that will sustain engaged PV’s at the Portman. In order to engage the employees the Portman must be dedicated to a performance management system. This cannot be the “system of the month” that simply creates hype for a time and then fades away, as they experienced with the 5-Star system.

    The hotel must set goals, monitor and evaluate these goals, provide feedback and create a reward and recognition program. (Krasner, 244). With the introduction of the 5-Star Program, the Portman relied on the PV’s to participate in the problem solving for the hotel. The Portman should again rely on the employees with the establishment of a performance management system by using a Management by Objectives system. This type of system would incorporate participation from the employees for decision making, goal setting and objective feedback (Kreitner, 246).

    This program should begin with the strategic plan of the hotel and then set goals for employees that will align with the hotels organizational objective. These goals should be set using the SMART method (Kreitner, 248). Once the goals are set, management must get commitment from the staff that they believe these goals are attainable and that they believe in why they are pursuing these goals. If the Portman uses staff to set these goals, commitment will be easier to obtain, than if they are just sent down from the top.

    And finally their hotel must provide feedback from the measurement of these goals. Feedback has to include both reward and accountability to be successful. To set a clear direction, Scott should implement the team caption concept. With the team captain, the personal valets would have immediate contact with a supervisor who would have the training and understanding of the job requirements to provide an appropriate answer that will continue to motivate the employees and keep the customers happy (i. e. , keep the tips to the employees flowing).

    Although the team captain would lead to higher costs and another level in the hierarchy, the communication that could be provided to the personal valets will be invaluable because the increased communication will help alleviate the turnover and lead to a more quality experience for the customers (which in the service industry leads to additional stays/word of mouth referrals/increased occupancy rates). The new level in the hierarchy would be crucial in creating a training plan for new and existing personal valets o that the quality standard Portman is committed to have will be fulfilled. Portman should look at what they want the customers to take away from their stay at the hotel. The job structure for the personal valet’s should be structured so that the customer experience is the focus. The happier the customers are with their experience at the hotel, the larger the tips for the employees will be as well as there would be return business and referrals. Another suggestion for change in the Portman Hotel Company involves the Personal Valet’s (PV) job tasks.

    The organizational vision of Portman is superior customer service. The PV’s primary goal is to provide that service by any means necessary. However, they are also responsible for cleaning duties. From the case: “Aside from the these butler-like tasks, the PVs also had to clean the rooms, perform minor maintenance, restock the rooms’ mini-bars, paint, clean the hallway and move out the room service tray. ” These duties are time consuming and do not contribute to guest service. They break the results oriented portion of an organization’s SMART goals.

    An alternative to this situation is to contract out the housekeeping, cleaning, and laundry functions to an independent firm. The benefits to this strategy are numerous. First, the removal of the cleaning duties from the PV’s job responsibilities allows for more time to be committed to the ultimate goal of customer service. Second, the cost of hiring a contract firm could be offset by the reduction in the number of required PVs, leading to increased salaries for the remaining PVs.

    Besides, the money saved on PV salaries, Portman would also be saving money on the extra benefits provided to associates. These benefits include long-term disability, retirement plans, reimbursements for outside courses, parties, and cafeteria access. A potential problem with this plan could be a decrease in the quality of the cleaning and maintenance tasks. Portman management would need to be diligent in monitoring the quality of service the contracted firm provided. Also, a decrease in the size of the PV staff could lead to decreased employee morale.

    Ultimately, limiting the scope of the PV’s job tasks to those functions directly related to customer service will lead to a more narrow focus on the organizational vision. Employees will benefit from having clearer expectations and Portman management will have fewer employees to oversee and fewer tasks to monitor. Increasing communication between management and the employees is essential for employees to have good relationships between themselves and their superiors. Clark Wilson created a skills profile that noted eleven skills exhibited by an effective manager.

    The eleven skills create a cycle with human interaction at all times. With the Portman hotel, there was very little communication flow from the employees to management or from management to employees. There was also a missing communication link with the customers of the Portman Hotel. The customers were unaware of how the personal valet concept worked. Leaving the customers uninformed led to the personal valets not receiving the amount of tips that they had been led to believe that they would receive when the program began and the low occupancy of the hotel also led to the low tip pay for the personal valets.

    The personal valets were also dissatisfied with the job content of their positions. In addition, motivating jobs can be designed around intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. When a person derives intrinsic rewards from a job, the person derives motivation and creativity. At Portman Hotel, the meaningfulness reward would be met by the management helping the employees identify how their work falls in line with the organizational vision. The choice reward would be met by management empowering employees and delegating responsibilities meaningful assignments.

    The competence reward would be met by ensuring employees have the knowledge to complete their job and that any deficiencies would be handled through training and mentoring. The progress reward would be met by monitoring and rewarding others. Management should be prepared to provide training to the employees so that the employees can meet goals that the employees set. Besides, Portman could implement job rotation, job enlargement (more variety), and job enrichment among the personal valets. This motivational approach to job design attempts to improve job satisfaction as well as some behavioral aspects (Kreitner, 230).

    Hence, Portman will have higher motivation, better performance from employees, higher satisfaction from employees and lower absenteeism and turnover. In conclusion, there are several ranging ways to improve the use of PV’s at the Portman Hotel. The overall conclusion is that setting clear-cut goals for the employees as well as defining ways to reward and motivate will enhance the use of PV’s to generate the end desire from the hotel management. With the appropriate utilization of these theories the hotel will be able to establish a PV program that falls in line with the reasons the original ideas was created.

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