Four Seasons Hotels Inc.'s HR Practices: Fostering a Strong Customer Service Culture

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : HROB116 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 400;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 400 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


HR polices and practices / Organizational Culture/ Customer Service Culture/ Hotel Operations
Case Length : 19 pages
Period : 1998-2008
Pub Date : 2009
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Four Seasons Hotels Inc.
Industry : Hospitality
Countries : Global


This case describes the work culture at Four Seasons Hotels Inc. (Four Seasons), a Toronto-based global luxury hotel chain and resorts. Since its inception in 1960, Four Seasons had created a niche for itself with its focus on providing exceptional and personalized service to the guests. Four Seasons was committed to providing its guests with value added service and hassle-free stays. The Four Seasons culture was personified by its employees who shared the common goal of offering excellent service to customers. From the time Four Seasons opened its first hotel, its work culture was based on trust and mutual respect and it allowed employees to flourish and succeed.

For the management, employee satisfaction was as important as guest satisfaction. Four Seasons gained recognition for its quality service and also featured for eleven consecutive years (1998-2008) on the Fortune Magazine's '100 Best Companies to Work for' in the USA.

The case examines a few elements of Four Seasons' work culture and how these have contributed to its business success and to making it a great place to work. The case concludes with the future prospects of Four Seasons and the issues and challenges faced by Isadore Sharp, CEO, as he planned to grow further by expanding across new locations.


Understand the issues and challenges involved in running a hospitality business.

Understand the significance of a strong customer service culture to the success of a firm in the hospitality business.

Analyze the factors that contributed to a strong customer service culture at Four Seasons.

Understand issues related to HR such as employee empowerment, working in teams, flexible working, control versus commitment, etc., and how these contribute to the success of a firm.

Examine the steps taken by Four Seasons to ensure employee satisfaction.


  Page No.
Eleven Years among the Elite 1
Background Note 2
Four Seasons' Service Culture 5
Loyalty to Guests is Important 6
...But Employees Come First 7
Hiring and Training 9
Conducive Environment 11
Employee Policies and Benefits 13
Criticism 14
Looking Forward 15
Exhibits 16

Key Words:

Customer service culture, Best companies to work for, Hospitality management, Empowerment, Recruitment, Selection, Orientation, Training, Performance management, Rewards and benefits, Hospitality industry, Four Seasons

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