“Butler service!” said the good-looking guy in his neatly ironed suit and bowtie.
Who is he?
(Speaking with just the right amount of pride) He is the ‘icing’ of our establishment’s service, he is the ‘elite’ employee, he is a butler.
What does he do exactly that makes his guests, customers, and even his comrades go ‘Wow!’?
Well, he can do a whole lot of things. But before we get there, let us take a look back to his long history.
He was once a slave in charge of alcoholic beverages in ancient royalties. From being a cupbearer he turned to one of the most trusted servant in large houses as more duties were charged to him. And now, he evolved into one of the highest ranking and one of the most skilled employee in modern hotels. From bearing his master’s cup, to becoming the majordomo in large household, he is now a top steward who provides the highest form of service in the hospitality industry.
Going back to answering the second question; basing on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, he is a chief male servant of a household having charge of the wines and liquors, overseeing other employees, receiving guests, directing the serving of meals, and performing various personal services.
Yes, the Merriams and Mr. Webster is quite right with their definition. But it is also right to say that he, the butler, is also a she. The preferences of the masters have changed through the ages. There came a time when the price for manservants grew too expensive which led them to train girls to be butlers. The first ever recorded lady butler was a garden girl. Services with feminine touch has also become a demand among wealthy people. Gone are the days when man dominated woman in leading careers. So from a rib taken from the butler was molded to form a woman of his like. Then born was the Lady Butler.
Who does he serves for?
Originally, he only serves his master and his master’s family in domestic households. Now, he has also conquered serving in hotels, resorts, and restaurants – places where his fine taste for excellent service is all-important. From serving a small to extended family he expanded his horizon and now serves a pool of diverse people in the hospitality industry.
With all the facts stated above, presently and generally, he, the butler is a male or female chief servant of a household or an establishment who acts like a trusted personal assistant aiming to provide their master/s, guests, and/or customers a stress- and worry-free and the easiest and the most convenient way of living and stay by providing personalized services that goes beyond expectations.
These services are:
- Hosting and ushering in the property as well as in formal parties and events.
Bell and transportation services which includes valet parking, porting luggage, chauffeuring inside or outside the premises.
Receiving and registration. Checking the guests and/or customers reservations and registering them in the reception. Presentation of the premises is included.
- Luggage, laundry, and wardrobe management. Packing and unpacking luggage. Sorting soiled and newly-laundered clothes and determining the right care for each garment including foot wears.
- Housekeeping services. Administering the preservation of cleanliness for rooms and public places and even performing light maintenance works.
Food and beverage services. Table management, wine service, table side cooking, and making concoctions.
Concierge services. Serving as a constant source of up to date information.
Making reservations. Booking accommodations, massage and spas, tables, flights, function spaces etc. for the principal.
(Decent) escorting on and off-property. Planning itinerary and guiding them on their tours.
Clerical services. Sending mails and emails, printing, photocopying, and serving as a semi-secretary.
Anticipating the needs of those he serves for and having it ready beforehand.
Taking special care of furniture, fixtures, artworks, artifacts, antiques, displays, silverwares, and collectibles. As well as taking charge of its maintenance and inventories.
Stocking and inventorying pantry supplies.
Overseeing other establishment staff especially those that work up close with the guests and customers to ensure that services provided are at its best result.
In short he is an “all-purpose household manager” who can do almost everything in the unending lists of preferences of well-nigh insatiable masters, guests, and customers.
“How to be you po?”
Before he got to his spotlight in the hospitality industry he has first undergone a long arduous training. Jumping from department to department he learned all the aspects of the establishment he is in while he mastered multiple skills on communication, management, decision-making, etc. by heart as efficiently as possible. From the rooms division to serving foods and beverages to guests services and transportation and others, he aced the art of perfecting services by paying attention to its every detail. Not only that he has memorized everything in his company and improved skills on various subject but he has also learned about developing a sophisticated personality and formal etiquette. Raising shoulders with a chin up, showing that he has a bit of authority seem to be easy but this took him a while to master. He sweated his training, screwed up from time to time but these, he knows, were all part of the process.
Fast forward to when he has tenured, there he is, a modern-society butler, walking the carpeted hallway of the establishment he is in, neatly wearing the uniform he earned thru dedication and the right mindset. With a pleasant smile, he gently ring the doorbell. Just in time to provide excellent service. Then the ‘Moment of Truth’. Equipped with knowledge and skills, he confidently serves his guests. He moves around with finesse while maintaining a good upright posture. He speaks with spontaneity making a nice nonmechanical conversation. The guests are at ease with his presence. Every questions they throw are answered right away with certainty like bullets shot at the right spot. He then closed the door leaving his guests delighted and pleased. With pride and integrity, he walks away feeling satisfied. It is a flawless service as usual.
What is his significance in the hospitality industry?
In the constant strive of businesses within the industry to provide the best service, he was summoned to do the job. He has become the point of contact for anything a guest or customer may want or need. Instead of them calling for different staffer to do particular tasks, he is their on standby, a Jack-of-all-trades, to administer the execution of the service. He is tasked to do the ‘last look’ and ‘last say’ of every services made before they reach the guests and customers. ‘What the butler thinks’ is an integral part of every services given. This added luxury encourages repeat visits and recommendations as having that single point of contact develops a special bond with the principal who then request for the same person to serve them in their next visit. In this industry where all battle to provide that ‘perfect service’, he is a key service differentiator.
Busy and demanding as it may seem, the perks of being a butler are multifold as his tasks. He learns a lot from the people he serves. As he gets to know his guests and customers, he learns a piece of their history, a bit of their cultures, and basics of their languages. It is like looking into the world in one place. Chatty and inspirational guests and customers are plus. He gets to hear stories of success, motivational advice, and many sorts of good stuffs. Sometimes he would even get job offers and recommendations. Meeting and serving famous personalities such as showbiz celebrities, notable icons, public figures and other VIPs is a normal scene. The endless learning and development helps him grow more as a person and as a professional. His skills will never go out of practice rather he gets better and better every single day. Most days are blessed, not removing the fact that some days are dull and flat and some are even bad to worst. Each of his day is different for he serves his guests and customers differently depending on their profile and preferences which makes him flexible and which makes his job exciting and fun! Everything he does is appreciated and praised even the small ones. A wave of his sheet, flares he makes as he flambés, or even just carrying a tray of piled dishes makes him glorious. He is a total ‘mythical glory’ hero if you know what I mean.
It is not a first-choice career. Not the type that you would dream of becoming soon one day. Most would want to be the master rather than the servant. But once you understand more about this profession, perhaps you might consider giving it a try.
We are in a generation when advancement and modernity requires for more, giving chance for certain professions to rise. The boom of this career comes with prestige and prominence. Season has changed as well as perception. When you say Butler many thinks of a middle aged man in a tailcoat and hand gloves carrying a tray. Now, people would feature a smart well-favored individual of welcoming and classy personality.
I am privileged to be one of them, to be the ‘icing’ of our establishment’s service, to be an ‘elite’ employee, to be a butler.
It is indeed a career of great worth.