Ritz and Rusesabagina

The Wall Street Journal reports that the venerable Ritz chain is reworking its service standards with a view to staying “relevant”. Changes instituted include dispensing with “Ladies and Gentlemen” when addressing guests and “discouraging” phrases such as “”Certainly, my pleasure” to be replaced with more “natural responses”. The chain claims that folksy language will still not be allowed but some of the other ostensible conundrums hardly are difficult to resolve no matter what segment of the hotel industry. One such issues is whether or not to help a guest with luggage as some decline to be helped. Merely asking a guest ought to solve that one. But the larger issue of formality is one that has a broad definition that even cuts across generations. Most employees are smart enough to gage the guest’s preferences after a few moments of interacting with them – the chain would do well to continue imparting training in formal mores while giving more latitude to the employees in determining when to use it.

The Hotel Rwanda was also a luxury hotel at least untill the genocide of 1994 when millions of Tutsis where butchered by their countrymen. The Chicago Tribune has a report on the troubles dogging the hero of that fratrcidal conflict, Paul Rusesabagina. tRusesabagina delivered the keynote address at last year’s IH/M&RS, the International Hotel/ Motel & Restaurant Show at New York’s Javits Center. While some found his accent a bit difficult to follow almost everyone was stirred by his account of the genocide and the role played by him in saving lives. Unfortunately, his heroism is being called into question owing to his interest in politics in Rwanda with that country’s President dismissing him as a “cinema star”! A pretty grotesque statement given the widely documented accounts of Rusesabagina’s heroic role in the long crisis.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.

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