Butler Service – myth or added value?

Have you ever stayed at a hotel that offers real butler service? Did you view the service as beneficial? Did it enhance your stay? Did it make a difference?

Here’s a brief look behind the scenes.

Enjoy your reading!

What is butler service?

Butler service is a very personalized service that goes the extra mile by identifying and anticipating guests’ needs almost before they do. In a hotel or on a cruise ship butler service provides the guest with a single point of contact that fulfills every little request discreetly and ideally with a smile.

Who employs butlers?

According to the International Institute of Modern Butlers, butler service can be offered in private estates, resorts and hotels, private yachts and jets, cruise ships and commercial airlines, hospitals, upscale retirement homes, as well as the consumer-service side of businesses.

What qualities are expected from a butler?

Fast thinking, caring about people, taking the time to get to know the guest’s needs, making them feel comfortable, dedicated to giving personalized service to guests, extremely polite and articulate and an unsurpassed attention to detail.

How do luxury hotel brands perceive butler service?

For the St. Regis brand for example, butler service has been a hallmark since 1904 and is – as the St. Regis signature service – an integral part of the St. Regis experience providing an additional level of service.

St. Regis states that “the main concept of offering butler service is to identify what an individual guests needs and make sure we are thinking for them, tailor-making our service levels directly at what will make them more comfortable to stay at the hotel.”

The St. Regis brand is one of the very few hotel brands out there that has a real differentiating feature – butler service.

What are examples of butler service in a hotel?

Welcoming guest upon arrival. Serving welcome drink. Checking-in formalities. Providing guest with all information regarding hotel facilities and the stay. Unpacking and packing guest’s luggage. Liaising with different hotel departments such as housekeeping. Shoe shine. Clothes pressing. Collecting and returning laundry. Making reservations. Arranging transportation. Concierge services. Listening. Among other things.

What are the challenges in today’s world?

The basic challenge is to combine old school hands-on technics with an innovative approach. No re-inventing the wheel here but adjusting to modern technologies and ever involving guest demand patterns. Another huge challenge is the sharply rising demand for qualified butlers from a spate of new luxury hotel openings predominantly in Asia with China leading the pack by a considerable margin.

Is butler service not just a repacking hotel services of standard?

In many hotels yes, however, if done right there is a clear distinction between standard service and butler service whereby butler service does add value to a hotel’s offering. Butler service can and should exceed the hotel’s standard service offering.  One major distinction is that the butler is proactive and anticipative so that the guest does not need to bother taking care of anything himself. The service offering typically includes anything without any extra charge with a dedicated butler standing by and serving as the guest’s single point of contact.

Is butler service not just a justification for charging higher rates?

Butler service executed well does justify to charge a premium. In addition, it can lead to a higher percentage of return guests and higher occupancy.

Which hotels should definitely offer butler service?

It all depends on the hotel’s value proposal and desired positioning in the marketplace. Generally speaking, the upper end of the true 5-star spectrum should definitely offer butler service across all guest room categories.

Various hotels offer this service just for certain suite categories or for their suite product altogether and not for ordinary room categories.

About 30% of the world’s top 1,560 hotels offer full or partial butler service: https://true5stars.com/hotels/butler_service

How does one become a butler?

Numerous private butler schools exist today, such as The British Butler Institute, and top graduates can start at USD 50,000 – 60,000. Additionally, major luxury hotel brands offer traditional butler training while some hotels have trained a sort of pseudo-butler for service in defined areas such as “technology butlers” who fix guests’ computers and other electronic devices, and “bath butlers” who draw custom baths.

Butlers have traditionally been male, and this remains the norm although more and more women are employed.

Top butlers in private households can make as much as USD 150,000 per annum.

Butler is a prestigious profession in exclusive locations with reputable employers.

Enjoy great butler service wherever you might find it!


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