Newsletter Steven Ferry

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, October 2019, Butlers In the Media

Butlers in the Media

by Steven Ferry

Several articles this month quoted the usual “butler” doing real butlers no favors by mouthing off about the British Royal Family.

And now another butler is putting the profession in a bad light by spilling the beans on famous guests who once visited his former employer. The fact that this employer was a convicted pedophile makes this butler going public at this point in time “too little too late”: A prosecutor in Paris is currently looking into allegations of abuse of girls as young as 12, and yet this butler, who worked for that employer for 18 years, says of “the numerous very young, very thin and very tall girls” who visited, that he “believed none were under-age and everything was above board.”

Given that this employer’s butler in the US was very much aware of the goings on and even kept a little black book that he attempted to use for his own ends, it is unlikely that the French butler was not aware of what was going on; it’s unfortunate that he did not have the decency and the expected ethic level of a butler to go to the police on his own initiative.

Instead, he compounds his destructiveness by irresponsibly talking to the media about the guests who visited his former employer, making them guilty by association—whereas they may simply have been visiting for a cup of coffee and to talk business.

On the positive side, those who have and continue to represent the profession in a good light include Mr. Rick Fink, covered in this article. He may or may not be the “Last Great Butler,” as the article claims, but he is certainly one of the few remaining old-school butlers upon whose basic know-how of the role of the traditional butler the profession bases itself today.

The same magazine has another good article on the profession that depicts it accurately, although one person quoted talks of “commercial” butlers versus private-service butlers: A true understanding of the profession would see the fundamentals stretching across both hospitality and private-service butlers and would not feel it necessary to denigrate half the butlers who work hard every day around the world. Yes, they may be short on training and experience in fine estates, but they are at least on the road of superior service and could probably teach even the traditional butlers a thing or two about service—starting with a small dose of humility.

An excellent article on the need for soft-skills training in the hospitality world (applies to private service, too).

And a couple of articles showing how technology is taking over in hotels and the Chinese hotel manned by robots. “The one-meter high robot … an artificial intelligence (AI) system, follows guests around, takes orders, helps to buy groceries, orders meals, and picks up laundry through voice command, touch, or simple gestures.” Concierge and front desk are robots, too. Kitchen and cleaning staff are still humans. Why bother? The article claims: “These futuristic features are measures to increase efficiency, response time, and reducing the expensive workforce.” Presumably they mean “decrease” response time.

Lastly, we have two new misnomers this month to add to the many: “Closet Butler” and “Taxi Butler.”

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.

Butler training Etiquette

Butler’s Professional Code of Ethics


Always act in the best interest of your employer. Placing their interest above your own, perform and maintain the highest level of professional standards in all relationships and duties.

Keep all confidences regarding employer, guests, and other employees.

Serve the guest as the guest chooses to be served.

Lawful Behavior
Be knowledgeable of and ensure compliance with all applicable local and national laws. Abide by the highest ethical, moral and legal standards.

Perform your duties diligently, impartially and responsively, to the best of your ability. Activities outside working hours must not diminish confidence in you or your ability to perform your duties.

Personal Development
Endeavor to improve and enhance both personally and professionally. Strive to increase your service knowledge and improve your skills through training, study and the sharing of information and experiences with your peers.

Work towards achieving a strong foundation of mutual respect between the employer and other employees. Educate and instill a healthy respect for all persons and property associated with the employer and guests.

Professional Relationship
Strive to maintain appropriate relationships and boundaries in all aspects of service. Avoid discrimination based on age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, race, national origin or family politics.

Commit to the promotion of superlative service, through personal and professional example, mentoring, establishing industry standards, and consistent, active involvement.

Summer 2001