The Portman Hotel opened in San Francisco in 1987. The hotel was designed by a
noted architect named John Portman. Portman sought to replicate in the USA the
service and ambiance provided by premier Asian hotels, such as the Oriental
Hotel in Bangkok and the Regent in Hong Kong. To differentiate itself among
high-end hotels in San Francisco, Portman sought to create a “no rules” environ-
ment for guests.
At the centre of the hotel’s marketing strategy were the hotel’s personal valets
(PVs), who would be available to perform any (legal and moral) task requested
by a guest, and who would be responsible for the normal custodial and mainten-
ance activities associated with the hotel rooms. The PVs had very broad jobs.
These jobs were normally carried out, in other hotels, by numerous specialists.
Delivering exceptional service at Portman meant tremendous interdependence
and coordination, not only among PVs, but also between PVs and other areas of
the hotel. Flexibility was also critical, along a number of dimensions: within indi-
viduals (multitasking); across individuals (cross-training and teamwork); across
parts of the hotel, and over time (the ability to upsize and downsize in response
to seasonal, day of the week, and even time of the day fluctuations in guest re-
quests. PVs were able to decide how to balance their workload; they could decide
when to delay cleaning a bathroom in order to serve drinks to a different guest.
By empowering PVs and reducing costly management layers, Portman also
hoped to reduce overhead costs. Given the importance of the PVs to the hotel’s
strategy, as well as the desire of hotel management to avoid unions, the hotel
sought to create a culture of mutual trust, membership, pride, voice, and fair-
Here are some of the HR policies:
· Portman hired PVs who score high on asserti