Q&A: Lessons in Delivering a Luxury Customer Experience

Customer Strategy
Customer Experience
Ana M. Brant, Director, Global Guest Experience & Innovation at Dorchester Collection, a luxury hotel operator, discusses the importance of customer experience.

These days, it seems as if all customers have heightened expectations for receiving consistent customer experiences. While customer expectations will vary based on each consumer's mindset going into an interaction and what they expect out of it, people who are paying for a high-end product or service typically have amplified expectations. I recently had a chance to discuss some of the components of delivering a luxury customer experience with Ana M. Brant, Director, Global Guest Experience & Innovation at Dorchester Collection, a luxury hotel operator whose properties include The Beverly Hills Hotel, The Dorchester, and Hotel Bel-Air. I met Ms. Brant while attending the MaritzCX CXFusion 2016 conference in Las Vegas last month.1to1 Media: You mentioned in your presentation at the conference that you started your career at The Ritz-Carlton. What are the top lessons you've learned from your tenure there that you've applied at Dorchester Collection? Ana Brant: One thing that differentiates us is that Ritz-Carlton is the brand that made you. You had to work under the framework of the culture. If there was a dead body in the elevator, there was a manual with procedures to follow. At Dorchester, there's an entrepreneurial spirit to create an exciting brand. We're creating our own legacy. Can you point to an example of how Dorchester Collection is creating its own legacy? AB: The back entrance for deliveries at our hotels match our front entrance, including a red carpet for our employees. It's about aligning the employee and guest experience. If you take care of the employee experience it takes care of the guest experience. Also, check-in at a hotel is not at 3 o'clock. It is when the guest arrives. What are some of the things that go into delivering a luxury experience? AB: It starts with your culture and the team you have on the front line. Our organizational structure allows us not to have silos. I have a lot of leeway to make use of talent tools to shape how we want to deliver service to customers. I can teach you how to serve but I can't teach you how to care. What are some of the things that have customers have shared in their feedback with Dorchester Collection? AB: The number one thing our customers want is privacy, relaxation, and discretion. So if you have a celebrity guest who is approached by one or more guests for photographs, how is this handled? AB: It can be tricky. Some celebrities like the recognition and like having their picture taken. Other times they may choose to eat in their rooms. They're usually nice about it.