Five-Star Service Still About Engagement

Stein Eriksen Lodge

As GM at Stein Eriksen Lodge in Park City, Utah, Dan Flick was in charge when the Mobil Travel Guide raised the hotel’s rating to five stars in 2008. Maintaining that standard requires a lot more than resting on laurels, Flick said when I caught up with him this week.

“It certainly has become more challenging,” he says. “Forbes has branched out into more of a global system. And as they continue to grow, along with that, the standards continue to elevate, because obviously it’s not their goal, as they continue to expand, to have 400 or 500 five-star hotels. That would dilute the rating, so it’s more challenging, because what was once a certain minimum continues to rise from year to year.

“The biggest challenge for us is, once you get to the top of the mountain, as we did in 2008, is to make sure complacency doesn’t creep in—making sure that our staff and operations consistently focus on standards but also challenge themselves.”

One area of service that has morphed and changed with guest desires over the last several years is room service. It remains a high-service standard at the five-star level, though even in-room dining has seen slight tweaks with the times.

“I think the standards and expectations, at least from Forbes’s perspective, have remained static over the years,” says Flick. “There are certain elements, such as using the guest’s name, smiling, engaging the guest. But the overall perception hasn’t changed. In the industry itself, in the luxury segment, the one thing that has changed is that technology has become a vital component. When iPads first came into the marketplace as they relate to room service, there were glitches, and some thought it took away personal engagement, but my experience is that over the last year or two, hotels have refined that. You don’t have have the personal engagement over the phone making an order, but the engagement happens when they deliver the food.”