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The Gold Standard of Luxury: Q&A with the Ritz-Carlton’s Michel Goget



When it comes to luxury in travel, there is no other name that matches the Ritz-Carlton. The legend of Ritz-Carlton can be traced back to Swiss hotelier César Ritz. Known as the “king of hoteliers and hotelier to kings,” Ritz redefined luxury accommodations in Europe with his management of The Ritz in Paris and the Carlton Hotel in London during the late 1800s and early 1900s. More than a century later, the company continues to redefine the gold standard for hospitality around the world.

The concept of luxury — how it’s defined today and why the experience of it is always shrouded in mystique — is always front of mind for Craig Hogan, vice president of luxury for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC, and all of the leaders within the Coldwell Banker Previews International® program.

Michel_Goget_SMALLHogan recently sat down with Michel Goget, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago and featured panelist during the immersive three-day experience on the Hudson River, to shed light on the subject. Born in South Paris, Goget has worked for the Ritz-Carlton brand for 16 years, delivering the signature Ritz-Carlton experience to guests in Chicago, Atlanta, Dearborn, Mich., China, Russia and Washington D.C. Here is an excerpt of their conversation.

Craig Hogan What is the single most important element for creating a memorable guest experience?

Michel Goget The Ritz-Carlton has a motto: “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” Our ladies and gentlemen make the difference. As the leader of the hotel, I need to create an environment where our employees have the confidence, training and tools to engage with our guests. It’s about connecting with them on an emotional level, enough for guests to say, “I’ll return.” It’s about inspiring customer loyalty.

Craig Hogan How has the notion of luxury evolved in your world over the years?

Michel Goget Back in the 1900s, hoteliers were defining what luxury was with great formality. Only a certain class of people was allowed to enjoy luxury. I worked at a very exclusive hotel in London and the general manager had to “approve” any guests who stayed at the hotel. Obviously that’s changed. Today, the notion of luxury is not for me to define, but to understand how our guests define it…and deliver the brand promise!

Craig Hogan And, how do modern guests define luxury?

Michel Goget Luxury is defined by exceptional service — and the ability of more than 500 employees at any given hotel to provide that same caliber of service to guests day in and day out. Through my employees, exceptional service means being able to anticipate guests’ needs, and to engage with guests so I can understand their purpose at the hotel. Sometimes it is also creating that mystique around a hotel.

Craig Hogan Mystique…we hear that word a lot in luxury.

Michel Goget You know, it’s the magic of a hotel doing something that a guest is not expecting. Those unexpressed wishes. It’s all about creating those unique and memorable experiences, and personalizing the service they receive.

Craig Hogan Can you point to any memorable experiences you’ve been involved in creating for a guest?

Michel Goget I’ll have to get back to you on that! [laughing] But some examples right off the top of my mind might include helping a guest ask his girlfriend to marry him. We’ll create a special dinner on the beach, and we’ll work with the gentleman on how to present his offer. Or maybe it’s placing a large “Will you marry me?” banner in Central Park for the couple to see from their window.

Craig Hogan Where do you see the parallels between luxury hospitality and real estate?

Michel Goget Relationships are critical for both industries. For us, the emotional engagement with a guest can make or break their experience. When it comes to buying and selling homes, the personal connection between the Realtor and client (or potential client) is paramount to completing a deal. You must instill confidence and trust in order to be successful in luxury.

Craig Hogan The luxury world is so driven by the intangibles too — how you make someone feel.

Michel Goget Yes. Exactly. You see this even in real estate when a home is being staged. We do the same thing in the hotel business. How do you create that mystique from the first moment a guest or a potential client steps inside your door? Part of our credo is to create a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience for our guests — one that enlivens the senses, instills well being and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.



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The Gold Standard of Luxury: Q&A with the Ritz-Carlton’s Michel Goget

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