Brand management of Ritz Carlton Hotel

Essay by ikarireiUniversity, Bachelor's March 2004

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Introduction Pg. 2

Importance of service brand

Background information of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel

Reasons for choosing The Ritz-Carlton

Objectives Pg. 3

Conceptual background Pg.3

Brand's central idea

Brand chartering

Methodology Pg. 4

Result and Discussion

Brand's central idea Pg. 4- 10

Brand chartering Pg. 10- 15

Recommendation Pg. 15- 16

Conclusion Pg. 16

Reference Pg. 17


Rewards Pg. 18

Brand chartering thoughtpad Pg. 18

Interview questions Pg. 19- 20

Core product and supplementary services Pg. 20- 23

Types of information stored in CLASS database Pg. 23

Needs and sources of market resources Pg. 24

Service quality indicators defects Pg. 25

Internal customers' satisfaction data Pg. 25

Percentage of turnover rate Pg. 26

Gold Standards Pg. 27

Business Excellence Roadmap Pg. 28- 29

The basic empowerment process Pg. 30

I. Introduction

Importance of service brand

A brand is an important corporate asset which is the main tool for marketers to distinguish their services from competitors.

Brand management is essential because technology and service formulation will be copied by keen competitor quickly while only brand personalities cannot. Also, successful brand is valuable because it can create a stream of future earnings.

Background information of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, was established in 1993. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Ritz-Carlton Company, L.L.C. in U.S.A., which manages 36 luxury hotels in different countries. The Ritz-Carlton, HK, which strategically located in the heart of the financial district of Central, is a small hotel with only 216 guestrooms and 320 employees. It is one of the five world-class hotels in the world and won lots of awards (Appendix 1). The hotel is designed to suit the requirements of its principal customers: (1) meeting Event Planners (2) Independent Business and Leisure Travelers.

Reasons for choosing The Ritz-Carlton

As Ritz-Carlton is well known around the world, its strong hotel brand is valuable to study in the aspect of brand management. Moreover, it has already established numbers of hotels and resorts globally; it would be a difficult job to manage the brand consistently in different countries. This allows us to investigate what measures Ritz-Carlton has carried out to deal with them.

II. Objectives

In this project, we would like to examine how the Ritz-Carlton manages its brand through product, environment, communication and staff behavior. Also, we will evaluate its performance in managing brand by using the theory of brand chartering.

III. Conceptual Background

i. Manifestation of Brand's Central Idea (after Wolff Olins 1995)

This is a model shows that a brand's central idea is manifested through four media: product, environment, communication and staff behavior. In the following part, we will show how Ritz-Carlton manages its brand through these four elements.

Fig.1 Manifestation of Brand's Central Idea

ii. Brand chartering (Macrae, Mitchell 1996, Rubinstein 1995)

It is a framework for thinking about how to deal with brand management successfully. With the "brand chartering thoughtpad" (Appendix 2), 3 principal processes are identified. Within each processes there are 5 themes covering different aspects of brand management and action for dealing with it.

The advantage of using brand chartering is that we can navigate over the boxes on the thought pad to evaluate the hotel's performance in managing its brand. At the end, we will use a tick, cross or question mark to indicate strengths and problems lie within Ritz-Carlton.

IV. Methodology

We got the information of Ritz-Carlton by gathering primary and secondary data. For primary, we have interviewed the manager of catering and conference services department - "Vanessa Chung". The interview questions included the background information, positioning, brand central idea and communication, etc. (Appendix 3). Also, we visited the hotel on 26th March 2002, in observing the environment, facilities and service quality of its staff. For secondary data, we obtained the information from magazines - "Travel and Leisure" and "Frequent Traveler", Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. application summary 1999 of applying "Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award" and the Ritz-Carlton's website.

V. Result and Discussion

In this part, we will present the findings using the theory of manifestation of brand's central idea and show how Ritz-Carlton manages its brand through product, environment, communication and staff behavior. Then, we will use the theory of brand chartering to evaluate the performance of Ritz-Carlton in managing its brand.

A. Brand's Central Idea

Ritz-Carlton is a luxury hotel which provides convenience, comfort and relax environment, and personal service to its customers.

i. Product/Service

From Fig. 2, three levels of Ritz-Carlton's services are presented.

1. The core product of Ritz-Carlton is providing a nice sleep to customers.

2. The supplementary services (included in package).

3. The supplementary services (extra charge).

Please refer to (Appendix 4) for detail information.

To sum up, all of the services provided by Ritz-Carlton support its brand central idea. For example, Art collection show Ritz-Carlton is a luxury hotel. 24-hour room service, overnight laundry service, business center provides convenience to its customers. Also, the fitness and recreation facilities, such as swimming pool, steam and sauna, create a relax environment. Besides, bath butler service, hotel in hotel provides the personal service to its customers.

ii. Environment

1) Luxury

Ritz-Carlton is a luxury hotel. It uses elegantly style as its decoration to give customers a unique impression. For example, each guestrooms and suites are furnished to perfection with 18th century English antiques, oil paintings and rich mahogany furnishings.

To further differentiate with the others as an elegant manor home, it sets up an Art Collection, where seamlessly blends classic European and American antiques with distinctive Oriental pieces which reflect Hong Kong's heritage, and attract those travelers who like arts.

2) A warm, friendly and home-like atmosphere

Ritz-Carlton provides personal services to create a warm and home-like atmosphere. For example, the Motto stated "We Are Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen". The first "Ladies and Gentlemen" means the staff and the second means the guests. Besides, they call themselves "internal guests" rather than staff, and guest's name rather than "Sir/ Madam". The relationship between them is like friends.

When the Ladies and Gentlemen clean the guestrooms, they would just carry a small bag that likes the servant at home, instead of using a trolley like most hotels did. Therefore, when the guests back the Ritz-Carlton, it just likes back home.

3) A relax and comfortable atmosphere

There is full of background music within the lobby, corridor, fitness center, etc. Since Ritz-Carlton is a small hotel including only 216 rooms, it is not crowded indeed. Also, they use big sofa and table in the lobby and restaurants to create a relax atmosphere to the guests.

4) Working Environment

Gold Standards, which are reinforced daily in a variety of forums, such as daily line-up meeting, are the foundation of Ritz-Carlton. These standards have an incredible empowering effect on employees to think and act independently with innovation for both the benefits of customers and organization. Also, it helps establishing strong value and culture within the hotel, and raising employees' loyalty and motivation. Therefore, the quality of service can be improved and they can give a warm and relax environment to the guests.

iii. Communication

1) Between customers and employees

a. Greeting

The Ladies and Gentlemen treat their guests and each other with respect and dignity. They have a warm and sincere greeting and use the guest name to greet. When the guest leaves the hotel, they will organize a fond farewell and hope to give the guest a warm goodbye.

b. Guest recognition

To generate a family feeling and friendly environment to guests, the hotel use "guest recognition", which is a CLASS database (Appendix 5), to remember returning guests and generate essential preference and information to all concerned. Through this database, the hotel can understand what is "new or different" about each individual guest and it can create lasting relationships with them. For example if it shows that the guest requests a special pillow and an iron, when the guests come again, the room has already provided them. Therefore, personalized services can be offered.

c. Market research

In order to understand more guests needs and wants, the hotel conducts market research on the quality of hotel facilities, guest's needs, satisfaction and operations. It also asks about guest's feedback and suggestion. With knowing customers preferences and the demerit of daily operation, Ritz-Carlton can easily identify and correct problems and make improvement. (Appendix 6 demonstrates the needs and sources of market research and Appendix 7 demonstrates the Service Quality Indicators defects)

2) Between employer and employees

The company objectives are communicate to all employees and everyone has responsibility to support them.

a. Leadership program

The program leaders spend at least 6-7 weeks working with employees before the hotel opening and give full support to them. The President and COO personally interact with every new employee both individually and in-group settings. With good communication, employees know what they are supposed to do and how well they are doing.

b. Report

When employees notice some minor problems, they will first jot down and then report to their supervisors. Through this practice, the performance of services can be improved.

c. E-mail and quality newsletter

Ritz-Carlton has a best practice sharing with employees through e-mail. Results and improvements are communicated in the Quality newsletter. The newsletter mentions what the company is doing and what is going to do, so employees can clearly understand the company direction. They know guest satisfaction is their highest mission and try their best to satisfy guest's needs and wants.

Ritz-Carlton has a higher internal customers' satisfaction data comparing with service company norms (Appendix 8) and the percentage of turnover rate is decreasing from 1989 to 1999. (Appendix 9) Besides, the Ritz-Carlton has been named the Hong Kong's Best Employer in a survey conducted by Hewitt Associates in 2001. It shows that the communication between Ritz-Carlton and its employees is very good. It can create the loyalty of employees. So that, they will perform better in order to meet customers needs.

iv. Staff Behavior

To take pride in and care of personal appearance, all employees are responsible for conveying a professional image by adhering to Ritz-Carlton clothing and grooming standard. They are required to anticipate guest's wishes and needs, resolve problems, create a secure and accident free environment for all guests.

a. Selection

Ritz-Carlton committed to the selection and development of talent people from both within and outside the company to meet current and further needs, so the staff screening and selection process is very strict. It uses structured interview to measure the desirable, spontaneous behavior of potential employees at all levels through quality selection process.

b. Training

Ritz-Carlton is an industry leader in providing 120 hours of training per employee every year. All employees receive the same mandatory 2 days orientation process, which includes classroom type training on the Gold Standards and the Green Book.

The Gold Standards provide the basis for all ongoing employees training. The concepts are delivered by several methods, such as lectures at new internal customer orientation, daily line-up meeting, and administration of both positive and negative reinforcement. A Green Book is a guidance of quality improvement processes in control and improvement. This process is emphasized during training and development and is ingrained in the company's process-oriented culture.

The strict selection process coupled with outstanding training grant the Ritz-Carlton very best workforce, and help providing the most convenient services to its guests.

B. Brand Chartering

In this part, we will use the brand chartering thoughtpad(Fig.3) to evaluate the performance of Ritz-Carlton in managing its brand.

Fig.3 Brand Chartering Thoughtpad

Creating & communicating the brand Essence



Future news

Performance measurement

Managing the brand organization Master Briefing Quality & value

Team networking

Umbrella connections

Performance measurement

Directing & structuring the brand Brand architect



Organizing architect

Drama of leadership

Performance measurement

i. Creating and communicating the brand

1) Essence

The essence of this philosophy was refined into a set of core values collectively called The Gold Standards: The Credo, The Three Steps of Service, The Motto and The Twenty Basics. The detail of The Gold Standard ideas has shown in Appendix 10.

2) Identity

The lion and crown Ritz-Carlton logo is a combination of the British royal seal (the crown) and the financial backer (the lion). It is unique that CROWN represents privilege, and LION represents powerful. This reflects Ritz-Carlton is having a superior status. Also, the symbolism of Ritz-Carlton is being extended geographically. "The lion and crown" has been used in the five continents.

3) Heritage

There are only 19 years of relationship between Ritz-Carlton and its customers. Although the longevity is not really favorable, the market is still exists. There are lots of business travelers and famous people use Ritz-Carlton and appreciate its personalized services. It generates a very high level of customer loyalty at about 40% while the average is 25% in the industry. Therefore, the heritage is created.

4) Future news

As there is an increasing number of women travel aboard. Ritz-Carlton has done several things to keep the brand newsworthy. Such as the L.A.D.Y. Program, which calls "Luxury Amenities Designed for You". The amenities, which include items that are either frequently needed yet forgotten or that their guests might need. For instance, nail varnish remover, facial moisturizer, lip balm, eye-mask etc. Through this program, the Ritz-Carlton would attract those female clients, as it provides user-friendly rooms for them and some of the female clients might believe that they are being respected. Then, the hotel could capture this market with this innovative and fresh program that differentiates Ritz-Carlton with others.

ii. Managing the brand organization

1) Master briefing

Ritz-Carlton has created a name through both traditional and new media. The former includes business and travel magazines, the latter includes the internet and database marketing. Since Ritz-Carlton targets the luxury business traveler segment, these media are their preference. It implies a high degree of success in reaching upscale target markets. Also, with the CLASS database, communications are developed to better meet the interests and needs of people more cost effectively.

The hotel has a global consistent brand image, so it has standardized objectives for advertising campaign are (1) increase brand awareness and (2) have the same positioning theme by communicating the "utmost lifestyle personalization" concept. However, we found that the communication messages are not really sufficient in Hong Kong, advertisements are only published in foreign magazines and seldom existed in the Chinese print media.

2) Quality and value

The hotel strives for consistency in quality and value. It positions as a luxury business hotel, and never compromise on price cut to attract more customers. Service is an intangible asset that price is an essential element in determining service perceived value. The high price of the average hotel rate signifies a high level of services to its customers.

To attain higher level of service quality, the hotel developed a "Roadmap" (Appendix11) to business excellence. A major ingredient was involving people in the planning of the work and teaching the PDCA process improvement methodology. Besides, the hotel has a formal benchmarking, which includes comparative data like comparison to its foremost competitor or benchmarks inside the company. It has pushed the hotel over the years to the higher levels of performance. As a result, Ritz-Carlton has the right balance between quality and value; it also achieves consistency across a variety of first-class products and services.

3) Team networking

Every department of Ritz-Carlton is responsible for contributing to the success of brand. It has an efficient information flow across the hotel and encourages sharing of valuable experience and knowledge.

Fig 4. Information flow

4) Umbrella connections

Ritz-Carlton does not have a variety of product brands and it is unable to make use of umbrella connections.

iii. Directing and structuring the brand

1) Brand architect

In theory, corporate brand mainly expresses the company's mission and value, while sub-brand mainly focuses on developing varieties of product brands. Ritz-Carlton wants to be the premier worldwide provider of luxury travel and hospitality products and services, by stressing on corporate brand to express mission and value. For example, Ritz-Carlton focuses more on its service quality. Under superior and royal image, and the staff in Ritz-Carlton are titled as the ladies and gentlemen, these help carrying out the corporate branding strategy.

2) Strategy architect

As Ritz-Carlton's target segment is the upscale business travelers, which is different from others hotels widely focus on the majority. Therefore, it built up core competences of absolute finest in home-like and personal service, which suit to businessmen needs. This has built its reputation on unmatched quality and sophisticated elegance. By competing with the hotels like Peninsula and Shangri-la, the Ritz-Carlton enjoys more monopolistic competition in a premium niche market. The customers may be willing to pay for a higher price for home-like service. Ritz-Carlton's core competences have won the loyalty of countless guests.

3) Organizing architect

There is a link between the Ritz-Carlton mission, culture or values with the brand. The hotel provides such finest personal service giving a superior and royal enjoyment for customers and showing customer privilege status.

4) Drama of leadership

Ritz-Carlton has its task of brand management for motivating employees. First, there is "The Three Steps of Service" combined with "The Basic Empowerment Process", which aims to promote innovative and quick personal service. (Appendix 12) For example, the second steps of service is "Anticipation and complicance with guest needs". So, employees will provide personal service without customers request.

Also, based on the premise that customer service is the most precious commodity in company today, Ritz-Carlton has extended its service expertise into education. They are the Ritz-Carlton Learning Institute and Leadership Center, which help motivating and directing staffs to achieve hotel's goal and brand central ideas easily.

iv. Performance Measurement:

Creating & communicating the brand Essence

? Identity

? Heritage

? Future news

?? Overall Performance: Good

Suggestion: need innovation to stay its products and services fresh in the future

Managing the brand organization Master Briefing Quality & value

? Team networking

? Umbrella connections

X Overall Performance: Average

Suggestion: Advertising improvement

Directing & structuring the brand Brand architect

? Strategy


?? Organizing architect

? Drama of leadership

? Overall Performance: Good

Suggestion: Keep its brand sustainable by implementing more strategies

VI. Recommendation

Overall speaking, Ritz-Carlton has a good performance on managing its brand. However, it still has room for improvement on the aspects of future news, mastering briefing and strategy architect.

i. Future news

To make Ritz-Carlton stays fresh; three products and services can be introduced. The first is about technology advancement. It can setup the Ultimate Boardroom Solution to businessmen, which provides the function of videoconferencing, bandwidth, ISDN and external network. Besides, the Ritz-Carlton can extend the L.A.D.Y Program to MEN, which includes the products of cologne, cigar, shaver cream and condom. Also, it can provide different magazines to customers, such as business, sports, automobile, and fashion magazines.

ii. Master briefing

The Ritz-Carlton can increase its advertising and promotion in Hong Kong. It can promote its facilities to organizations, e.g. use the conference rooms for meeting. It can also provide more new package for its customers, such as special occasion and ultimate evening package.

iii. Strategy Architect

The Ritz-Carlton can find a partnership with big companies; it can ensure a certain amount of company income. Whenever the staffs have business trips, the partner company will choose Ritz-Carlton to accommodate.

Besides, the Ritz-Carlton should adopt the corporate strategy of diversification in other business. The hotel is now in a mature stage and it is time to expand. It can introduce the Ritz-Carlton Clubhouse, which offers recreation facilities, members' lounge, fitness center and golf access.

VII. Conclusion

In conclude, Ritz-Carlton manages its brand successfully. Its products, environment, communication and staff behavior can support its brand central idea very well. Besides, by using the theory of brand chartering, we found that the overall performance of Ritz-Carlton is good.


1. Building on Services' Characteristics to Develop Successful Services Brands, Leslie de Chernatony and Susan Segal-Horn, 2001

2. Rethinking brand management: the role of "brand chartering", Chris Macrae and Mark David Uncles, Journal of Product and Brand Management, Vol. 6 No. 1, 1997, Pg. 64-77

3. Corporate marketing and service brands- Moving beyond the fast-moving consumer goods model, Malcolm H.B. McDonald, Leslie de Chernatony and Fiona Harris, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 35 No.3/4, 2001, p.335-352

4. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. Application Summary 1999 of applying "Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award"

5. Frequent traveler, Feb/Mar 2002,Pg. 15

6. Travel and Leisure


Appendix 1




, Conde Nast Traveller

, Travel & Leisure




Appendix 2

Brand Chartering Thoughtpad

Creating & communicating the brand Essence



Future news

Performance measurement

Managing the brand organization Master Briefing Quality & value

Team networking

Umbrella connections

Performance measurement

Directing & structuring the brand Brand architect



Organizing architect

Drama of leadership

Performance measurement

Appendix 3

Interview questions

Positioning and Targeted Customers:

What is your company's position in the hotel and catering market?

What are your company's target customers?

Brand Central Idea:

What are your company's core value, mission and vision?

Does your brand or logo design have any hidden meaning?

What images that your hotel wants to create under this brand logo design?

What effects that your hotel wants to create under this brand logo design?


What are the environmental factors which will affect your hotel's business? (e.g. economic, social cultural factors, physical evident)

In this keen competitive environment, what your hotel can do to compete and differentiate from the competitors?

(Does your hotel have some strategies to compete and differentiate from the competitors?)


Can you introduce your hotel's service or/and product?


How your hotel communicates image or service with:

a) the public (e.g. through advertising)?

b) employees?

c) customers?

How your hotel to build up a long term relationship with customers?

a) past?

b) now?

c) future?

Staff Behaviors:

What are the criteria of recruiting candidates?

Do you have any training program for the employees?

What training your hotel provides to the staffs?

Do your hotel provides any guidelines or rules for employees?

Appendix 4

Core product and supplementary services

1. The core product of Ritz-Carlton, HK is providing a nice sleep to customers.

2. The supplementary services (included in package) includes

* 24-hour room service

* Twice-daily housekeeping attention

* Room features, such as, tea and coffee making unit, in-room safe deposit box, etc. (appendix 4.1)

* Fitness and recreation, such as, outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, separate men's and women's steam and sauna, etc

* Valet parking

* Complimentary morning newspaper

* Babysitting services available upon request

* Art Collection

3. The Supplementary Services (extra charge) includes

* Overnight laundry service

* Gift shops

* Salon

* 6 restaurants including western style "The Café", Bar "The Chater Lounge" Italy style "Toscana", Chinese restaurant "", Japanese food "Sakaegawa" and Sheung Hai style restaurant ""

* Bath Butler service, choose from a selection of ten butler-drawn bathing experiences that can be ordered in advance to soothe aching muscles after a long journey, or after a tiring day of meetings or shopping

* Business Service, such as, 24-hour secretarial services, high-speed internet access, etc (appendix 4.2)

* Business Center, provides a private office atmosphere where guests can conduct business with the assistance of efficient and professional staff

* Ritz-Carlton Club, which is located on floors 23-25, is accessed by a special elevator key. With 19 guest rooms, five suites and an exclusive lounge, The Club has the ambience of a small hotel within a hotel in the heart of Hong Kong. The club lounge provides a quiet, private area and intimate setting for a drink or snack for the guess.

Appendix 4.1

Room Features

* AM/FM clock radio with alarm, some with CD player

* Sumptuous marble baths

* Fully stocked mini refreshment bar

* Goosedown and non-allergenic foam pillows

* Plush terry or lightweight bathrobe

* Luxurious 100% cotton linens

* Generously sized terry bath towels

* Nonsmoking rooms available

* Multiline telephones with hold button

* Generously sized desk

* Barrier-free accessibility

* European toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, shower gel, mouthwash)

* Lighted makeup mirror, hair dryer and scale

* Suit, skirt and padded hangers

* Sewing kit

* Bedside panel - operates master light switch, curtains, valet call button, do-not-disturb button and night light

* Computer or modem data line

* Facsimile machines upon request

* Tea and coffee making unit

* In-room safe deposit box

Appendix 4.2

Business Service

* Conference concierge

* Express check-in/departure

* 24-hour secretarial services (fax, photocopies, telex, courier)

* Airport shuttle service provided by hotel or local transportation company (fee may be applicable)

* Technology Butler

* High-speed Internet access

Appendix 5

Types of information stored in CLASS database

Appendix 6

Needs and sources of market research

Appendix 7

Service Quality Indicators defects

Appendix 8

Internal customers' satisfaction data

Appendix 9

Percentage of turnover rate

Appendix 10

Gold Standards

Appendix 11

Business Excellence Roadmap

Appendix 12

The basic empowerment process