08 Mar Luxury Academy: The Finishing School for 5-Star Hotels
When you think of the nicest five-star hotels you’ve ever stayed at, a few things probably come to mind: fine food, elegant architecture, and a refined sense of propriety. But there’s so much more that goes into making accommodations truly “luxurious,” and it is with that very mission in mind that the Luxury Academy was born! We recently sat down with Paul Russell, one of the founders of the Luxury Academy, to discuss the finer details of the luxury hotel industry:
What is the Luxury Academy, and what services do you offer?
The Luxury Academy is a specialist training provider for luxury hotels in the four and five star market. We offer soft skills training ranging from Restaurant Upselling through to Dynamic Leadership Skills. One of our most popular courses is The Hotel Finishing School, which is almost a cross between a charm school and a Swiss finishing school. Another incredibly popular course is our School of Rock Star Service, which is a high energy training on creating amazing guest experiences. We try to ensure that all of our training is very experiential and interactive, hotel staff have very low boredom thresholds!
What compelled you to start this business?
I come from a hotel management background myself and until last year I was a senior manager for a five star hotel just outside London. Part of any senior manager’s role is the development of staff and managers within their department. I found it almost impossible to get industry specific training, with trainers that really understood the luxury hotel market. I did some research and found that the luxury market had a wide variety of technical training available such as NVQ’s (National Vocational Qualifications) in service and culinary, but absolutely no training that enabled hotels to fine tune and polish that technical knowledge. So in December 2012 the Luxury Academy was born.
What are the most exciting destinations that you’ve had the opportunity to work in so far?
We will be bringing the Hotel Finishing School course to a number of hotels in New York in May of this year, so we’re extremely excited about that. As an Event Planner I was very lucky to have been able to plan events and work in the US, India, France, Germany, Middle East, UAE, Ireland, Spain and Egypt.
What are 3 simple things that any hotelier can do to improve their guest experience?
1. I very much subscribe to the philosophy that “Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it, autograph your work with excellence”. Instil in your staff a sense of pride and motivation in every job they do, no matter how small. This kind of striving for excellence doesn’t take long to cascade to the guest.
2. Set high, yet clear standards and maintain them no matter what. It doesn’t matter how busy you are, this is never a reason to allow standards to drop and those managers and leaders who accept the excuse of “we were too busy” to do things properly are in danger of impacting their guest experience quite badly.
3. Train, develop and help your staff to succeed in their individual goals. Take time to talk to your staff and see what motivates them. Look after your staff and they will look after your guests.
What does the future have in store for the Luxury Academy?
The first three months have been a whirlwind of excitement. The luxury industry has really embraced what we’re offering and the training solutions we’re providing. We have recently been asked to adapt and produce the Hotel Finishing School for a high-end luxury retailer and a private jet company, so we are very excited about that.
We’re also very lucky to be in a position where we have the opportunity to identify, train and nurture the next generation of luxury service professionals.