Happy staff, happy customers: DeCocinis

14 September 2001

Mark DeCocinis, general manager of the Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai says employee satisfaction at his hotel has had a direct impact on both guest satisfaction and financial results.

“By the end of 1998, 70 percent of employees were satisfied (with the Portman), which is pretty good in terms of measurements in Asia, but low in terms of the company,” DeCocinis says.

He added that in 1999 and early 2000, employee satisfaction grew to more than 85 percent, and as the hotel made improvements in employee satisfaction, guest satisfaction went up to 92 percent.

By the end of 2000, employee satisfaction at the Portman jumped from 85 percent to 96 percent. As a result, guest satisfaction increased to 95 percent.

Not only did employee satisfaction have a positive impact on guest satisfaction, but it also boosted financial results. DeCocinis says revenue has gone up 22 percent this year as a result of increased satisfaction of guests and employees.

The hotel industry employee turnover rate for the city of Shanghai is currently 30 per cent. At the Portman Ritz-Carlton, DeCocinis says the turnover rate is 22 percent, down one per cent from last year.

“When Ritz-Carlton took over the management of Portman from the Shangri-La group in 1997, the turnover rate was 25 percent. From the beginning, we’ve focused our attention on keeping employees and teaching them the philosophy of the Ritz.”

DeCocinis says this philosophy works in a culture that is eager to learn and where pay is important. “People in Shanghai are very interested in progress,” he says. “It is the life and history of the city. Our employees look to the Ritz for the freedom to do what is necessary to take care of guests. We respect people as individuals. This is important in China where there is a deep tradition of family values. There is a need for respect and feeling significant so employees are happy and take care of the guests.”

The Portman Ritz-Carlton employs about 800 people and DeCocinis says communication is key to keeping employees satisfied, to let them say what is on their minds.

He says he acts on problems that employees bring to his attention, and the staff can see that it makes a difference to speak up. “I get the best information when I walk around the hotel. I can feel the pulse of the hotel that day,” he says.

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