Portman Hotel Company Swot

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REV. AUGUST 9, 1989


The Portman Hotel Company

It was November 1988, and Patrick Mene, vice president and managing director of The Portman

Hotel, was re-evaluating the “5-Star team plan.” He, Joe Villa, director of human resources, and

Spencer Scott, director of guest room services, had implemented the plan in December 1987, with the

understanding that they would reassess it later.

The 5-Star team plan had reorganized one group of employees, the personal valets (PVs). The PVs

both cleaned the rooms and were like butlers for the guests. Under the plan, the PVs had been

organized into teams of 5, with one team per floor. Mene had agreed to the plan because the PVs had

complained about how disorganized they were when the hotel opened in October 1987.

Now the PVs' morale was down. Many of them were not performing or had poor attendance. The

guests were starting to see mistakes. And all of this was aggravated by the hotel's occupancy, which

had just jumped from about half full to nearly 100% full in the last two months.

Mene wondered too if he should rethink his original human resources strategy, which he believed

was so important to The Portman's success. The Portman's goal had been to achieve a new level of

service among American luxury hotels. And to do this, he believed, required a high level of employee

commitment and responsibility. But maintaining commitment was turning out to be harder than he

had expected.

The Hotel

John C. Portman, Jr., architect and developer, had been a world-famous designer of luxury hotels

for 20 years. The Portman Hotel, however, was to be the first to bear his name and the first that he

and his firm would not only design and develop but also manage.

The hotel was relatively small—348 rooms and 21 floors. (The rooms were on floors 5 through 21,

though the fifth floor had only 10 rooms and the 21st had only 2.) Its rooms were elegant, done in