One of the most comprehensive and meaningful service codes ever introduced in hospitality

This  series on the “high-touch” side of hospitality has prompted positive reader feedback and ideas from hoteliers and managers who have participated in some of my workshops idea

·         Segment 1 underscored the need for hospitality businesses to deliver unique experience to avoid being viewed as a commodity.

·         Segment 2 focused on identifying ways to encourage hotel staffs to think about the “guest experience” , whether you are an independent hotel or brand affiliated  It offered concrete examples ways to avoid being seen as ordinary or a “commodity” in the critical guest service of SLEEP

·         Segment 3 examined the essential topic of significant value to hotel guests everywhere: BREAKFAST.

·         Segment 4 generated the most reader feedback, with general agreement that calming “an angry customer” gives hotels the chance to win loyalty be demonstrating sincere concern.

No one is proposing that we want to annoy guests, but  there is agreement that a “satisfied” guest is probably not thinking a hotel is very special and that  an “adequate” stay does not likely build loyalty or repeat visits.  Hotels of today must anticipate problem areas and respond immediately when one arises.  This means that hotel owners and managers must allow and insist that their staffs do whatever it takes to meet the customers’ needs and a  number of individual properties, brands and chains have worked to refine their staff responsiveness to these guest annoyances.

In the last column, I promised I would share one of the most comprehensive and meaningful service codes ever introduced. An unusual and perhaps unexpected fact about this service code is that it premiered almost a century ago by one of the most successful hoteliers of all time.

Elsworth Statler has been described and considered one of the most innovative and creative of hoteliers of all time.  He is credited with many of the practices and construction methods that became industry standards.

It was in Buffalo in 1908 that Elsworth Statler, (born into poverty in a West Virginia mining center during the American Civil War), began paying real attention to details that would become trademarks of his genius.  In a 300-room hotel, he was the first to provide a bathroom in each room, which had been unheard of that time.  Rather than force guests that were strangers to share common baths down the hall, he modified the construction practice to build rooms “back-to-back”.   This practice was then able to use common electrical conduit and plumbing shafts (later known as the Statler plumbing shaft), making the bathroom a basic part of every Statler hotel and within a decade in many of the hotels in the industry.

The Buffalo Statler introduced other innovations that evolved into standards at many hotels, including circulating ice water in every room, which was important in the pre-air conditioning heat in many cities,  telephones in every room, a full size closet in every room, lights in every closet and a hook by the mirror in each bathroom that encouraged guests to reuse their towel, thereby saving laundry costs.

Statler understood success was a combination of operations and marketing.  He was perceptive in paying attention to building revenues and anticipated the expansion of conventions and meetings business.  Guest rooms were not decorated in a “cookie cutter” style, but were with the proper balance of colors and design so that bedspreads, draperies and rugs could be interchanged from room to room if need be.

In addition to the physical amenities he stressed and introduced, he recognized that guests had to feel appreciated.   To emphasize his commitment, Statler introduced what he called the STATLER SERVICE CODE.

Statler Service Code

  • It is the business of a good hotel to cater to the public. It is the avowed business of the Hotel Statler to please the public better than any other hotel in the world.
  • Have everyone feel that for his money we want to give him more sincere service than he ever before received at any hotel.
  • Never be perky, pungent or fresh. The guest pays your salary as well as mine. He is your immediate benefactor.
  • Hotel service, that is, Hotel Statler service, means the limit of courteous, efficient attention from each particular employee to each particular guest. It is the object of the Hotel Statler to sell its guest the best service in the world.
  • No employee of this hotel is allowed the privilege of arguing any point with a guest. He must adjust the matter at once to the guest’s satisfaction or call his superior to adjust it. Wrangling has no place in Hotel Statler.
  • In all minor discussions between Statler employees and guests the employee is dead wrong, from the guest’s point of view and from ours.
  • Any Statler employee who is wise and discrete enough to merit tips is wise and discrete enough to render like service whether he is tipped or not.
  • Any Statler employee who fails to give service or who fails to thank the guest who gives him something falls short of Statler standards.

I updated this Service Code and have used it successfully in training programs and operations.  If readers would like a copy of this version in PowerPoint, please send a request for it to . I can also share with you an amusing  example of teamwork in delivering memorable and personalized customer service in a commercial from SN Brussels Airlines  in you tube format .

“Life is service. The one who progresses is the one who gives his fellow human being a little more, a little better service.” Elsworth Statler

Feedback or ideas for future pieces are welcome -contact me at

Blog of Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS 8.11.2010   

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.  He is Co-Founder of a consortium ( of successful corporate and academic mentors delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing the hospitality industry. is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas that are designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.   Special introductory pricing is in effect for a limited time that also includes a complimentary copy of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD- A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES.  If readers would like to contribute to the site, please submit your material for consideration to  We are interested in expanding our global networks and resources as we support our membership.