Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, December 2019, Letters to the Editor

PostBoxLetters to the Editor

“I wish to express a huge thank you to both Modern Butlers and Mr. Herman! Thank you for having Mr. Herman in your monthly Journal. I’m a house manager taking care of a huge estate in Beverly Hills that has more silver and brass in it than any other house I have ever taken care of. I was at my wits end dealing with all this silver, I knew I needed to be able to appreciate it more and have some affinity for it. I contacted Jeff for a pep talk about how to go about taking care of all these precious metals.  He was so gracious with his time. I was just amazed at all his help. His website is a huge resource everyone should know about. Mr. Herman saved me from watching hundreds of hours of You Tube videos that might have contained wrong directions. I got straight, precise and exact information I needed from Mr. Herman. He helped me to preserve the silver and is making me look good at doing my job.” KW 

Ed: Thank you so much for the feedback—we always appreciate hearing how the MBJ has been of use and I will make sure that Mr. Herman receives the good news, although I am sure you expressed it to him in person :-). We very much appreciate him, too!

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[A LinkedIn correspondence] “We need good trainers and consultants such as Steven Ferry, Chris Anthony, Neil Shorthouse, FIH Roy Cheng in Malaysia.”  DS

Ed: As with Neil, I thank you for the kind words, David.  Also, your words “…big luxury brands and names are struggling due to leaders often hiding behind the desks and not checking on standards” are spot on.

This, in my view, is in part due to the amalgamations of brands that have occurred into super chains and the focus on the bottom line as investors have taken over ownership over hoteliers. 

To counteract this, we have formed as a complete revolutionizing of the approach to QA, including the introduction of emotional and guest engagement skills. I believe these points, plus the need for proper training that you mention, to be critical.

And if we are to be honest and recognize the elephant in the room, the increasing lack of a hiring pool as dropping educational and moral standards push those coming into the workforce away from the notion of work and service. This is a huge issue that we, as a profession, can overcome in part by making hospitality more appealing, but which really requires a systemic change in education as a whole and in moral standards in particular. There are solutions for these two issues, too, but they have yet to gain widespread traction. It all starts with recognizing that these properly stated problems do exist, though.

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Continuing the letters with Alex Parker for his article on Batman’s Batman:

“I’m also interested in the cultural image of a butler–the way it was this universally known figure of wealth and status at the turn of the 20th century, at least going back to Jeeves from P.G. Wodehouse. (Who, I learned from Wikipedia, was actually a valet.) So when they created this comic book character in the 1940s who was a rich playboy, it just seemed obvious that they’d need a butler character. These days, though, you don’t see it often in books or movies, at least that I can think of. Even though, as you point out, the profession has been growing since the 70s. If you have thoughts on this, please let me know.

Ed: Butlers serving playboys or single adventurers is not a recent phenomenon. See  for instance. They are a valet, housekeeper, butler, confident, driver, cook etc. rolled into one. They are variations of butlers managing estates and households, and these go back a thousand years in England—their reputation based on being of service to royalty, nobility, and the extremely wealthy and powerful, who need a discreet and effective right hand man they can trust to manage their personal affairs and act as sounding boards and even advisors, while offering no attitude, or need on the part of the employer to deal with their off-at-hand opinions or vexations. 

Would you have replied with anything substantially different?

The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.