The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award

Imagine a hotel where every employee has more than 100 hours of customer service training annually, where you always check-in efficiently and quickly, where your guestroom is never more than 90 days old because of a revolutionary maintenance program, and where every employee is the customer service department and will break away from his or her duties to help a guest. Consistent, reliable services such as these are just a few of the reasons why The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. was named the two-time winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award by the United States Department of Commerce in 1999 and 1992.

The Chevy Chase, Maryland-based company, joins only one other American company that has earned the distinction more than once. The Ritz-Carlton is the only company in the hotel industry ever to receive the award, which recognizes exceptional achievement in the practice of total quality management principles.

Seven categories make up the award criteria: Leadership, Strategic Planning, Customer and Market Focus, Measurement Analysis and Knowledge Management, Human Resources Focus, Process Management and Business Results. At The Ritz-Carlton, a focus on these criteria has resulted in higher employee and customer satisfaction, increased productivity and market share. Perhaps most significant is increased profitability.

The Ritz-Carlton has aggressively extended its brand to include a spa division, a private club management division, The Ritz-Carlton Residences (condominiums), The Ritz-Carlton Club (second home alternative) and The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center (an educational division). Total Quality Management practices have ensured the success of these divisions and the integrity of the brand.

All employees of The Ritz-Carlton are empowered to make a difference. Using tools ranging from nine-step quality improvement teams to guest surveys, The Ritz-Carlton employees examine every process in the hotel to ensure the most efficient, customer-service driven practice is in place. Examples include:

A front desk project team at The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka reduced check-in time by 50 percent.

A cross-functional team from the two Atlanta hotels and the corporate office developed a guestroom child safety program, POLO (Protect Our Little Ones), in response to an increase in family travel. The team spent two years benchmarking children’s programs, interviewing customers, testing products and piloting the program to ensure successful implementation.

A cross-functional guest recognition database called Mystique is a company-wide tool created to meet and anticipate repeat customers’ preferences and requirements.

Hotel Engineers from resorts and city hotels developed a system called CARE (Clean And Repair Everything) to create the most defect-free guestrooms in the industry. Merging the deep cleaning housekeeping processes with the engineering preventative maintenance schedule ensures that all guestrooms are guaranteed to be defect-free every 90 days.

A cross-functional team of hourly employees and managers tackled the problem of guestroom readiness when a guest checks in. Staggering the lunch hours of the housekeeping supervisors streamlined the guest room inspection process and eliminated the problem ensuring a guest’s room is always ready when he or she wants to check-in.

Based on the results of a nine-step customer problem solving team, business and leisure travelers on The Club Level are checked in according to their specific needs. Business travelers are checked in quickly and efficiently whereas leisure guests are given the option of a more pampered check-in with champagne and a more lengthy presentation of the hotel services and amenities.

A team of catering managers from The Ritz-Carlton hotels worldwide created the first comprehensive wedding program in the hospitality industry. After two years of surveying guests, benchmarking the competition, meeting with wedding experts and media, a five-tier program, designed to meet the bride and groom’s needs from initial telephone call to the first anniversary, was successfully launched.

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