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Four Seasons Goes to Paris:53 Properties, 24 Countries, 1 Philosophy Case Solution

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
708 1461 Words (4 Pages) Roger Hallowell, Carin-Isabel Knoop, David Bowen Harvard Business School : 803069
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The case study revolves around a global giant, Four Seasons. It is one of the leading hotel chain, operating in 24 countries. Total number of hotel branches that the company owns is 54, and it uses only one philosophy to operate the whole system. The underlying reason for company’s success is it adaptability to national culture of the area, in which it operates. The second reason is its human resources it invests heavily on it employees. The company has translated the golden rule into its human resource management policies and its customer relationship management policies. The company has set seven service culture standards, which revolve around the golden rule. The main barrier or difficulty that the company faced while entering the French market was rigid and strict labor laws. Another reason for company’s success is that it keeps its customers engaged and “maximize the value of their time” by providing excellent services.

Following questions are answered in this case study solution:

  1. What it is like to stay at a Four Seasons?

  2. What has made Four Seasons successful over the last 30 years?

  3. Does corporate culture play a role in Four Seasons’ success? If so, how and why?

  4. Do human resource strategies play a role in Four Seasons’ success? If so, how and why?

  5. How do you feel about the way Four Seasons entered the Paris/French market? What was good and/pr bad about the entry strategy? Why?

  6. Do the lessons from this case study apply to firms entering markets other than France? If now, why? If so, how, and to what types of markets?

Four Seasons Goes to Paris 53 Properties 24 Countries 1 Philosophy Case Analysis

1. What it is like to stay at a Four Seasons?

In order to make customers’ stay comfortable and luxurious, the company has taken several initiatives. Some of the major initiatives taken by the company are adoption, strict standards, and engaging clients. A customer who choose Four Seasons as its service provider gets the idea of what it feels like being a VIP. One of the notable features of the company is that it adapts itself according to the national culture of the country, in which it is operating. This gives their clients the sense of visiting a new place. For instance, if a client is staying in their French branch, he/she would be able to see notable French culture around him/her. In this way, the client will not miss on the opportunity of exploring another culture altogether. According to Corinthios, “People know that they will get 24-hour room service, a custom made mattress, and a marble bathroom, but they also know that they are going to be part of a local community”, this shows that the company uses adaptability to satisfy its customers. Another prominent feature of the company is that it engages its customers by providing them exciting and innovative culinary offers. In short, the customer feels like a royal guest when he/she is visiting four seasons.

2. What has made Four Seasons successful over the last 30 years?

Four season provides “consistently exceptional service quality” to its customers. Their services aimed at maximizing customers’ value of time by providing them very personalized service. The survival of any form lies in its business model and infrastructure. The company has developed its managerial infrastructure in such a way that inculcates sustainability into the whole system. Four season believes that it can manage hotel’s operation in a cost-effective manner if it adopts its management structure according to the region, in which it is operating. Regional management structure helps the local recruit quickly adapt to the organizational culture, which enhances their performance. Four season’s management is tagged as a profession, detail-oriented, and compassionate team as it takes very good care of its employees. Satisfied employees have a boosted morale, which translates into high organizational efficiency. One of the main features of company’s management is that many of its executives have stayed in the organization for almost 20 to 25 years. This makes sure that the company is going down the same path as it was strategically decided by the executive team. They make sure that all their subordinates feel like a part of Four Season’s family. All the aforesaid factors play a major role in company’s success over the past 30 years.

3. Does corporate culture play a role in Four Seasons’ success, if so, how and why?

The organizational culture of Four Seasons revolve around one single golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The company has decoded the golden rule and has transformed it into very specific policies, which all employees of four seasons must follow. These policies are applicable to each branch of four seasons, be it in France or be it in America. "Smile", "eye", "recognition", "voice", "informed", "clean", and "everyone" are the seven service culture standards. These factors fall under the umbrella of general courtesy. Interestingly, these are the factors that have been derived from the golden rule. The employees are trained to smile at the customer, make an eye contact, recognize the customer, speak with them courteously, be informed about services offered, keep themselves clean, and care about customers all the time. These factors make the customer feel special and welcomed into the hotel. The likelihood of repurchase increases if the customer gets satisfied. This helps the company in developing and maintaining its customer base. The company has skillfully translated the core of its corporate culture into customer-friendly business policies.

4. Do human resource strategies play a role in Four Seasons’ success, if so, how and why?

Importance of human resources cannot be denied as it is one of the key resources, which gears up an organization’s growth. There are companies, which have derived their competitive advantage from their human resources. In the case of Four Seasons, they have a diverse range of human resources. The average age of an employee in Four Seasons is about 26 years, and the company also supports the idea of a diverse workforce; the company’s task force has people from 46 different nations. Diversity can also be a source of competitive advantage. Nonetheless, in order to retain its employees, the company initiated a program called “employee of the month”, this program kept employees at their toes to give the best performance possible. The company’s success depends upon satisfied customers, and customers directly interact with the middle and low level management; they are the company’s face. Four Season invests heavily on training it employees to get the best out of them. The company only hire those people who are sincere and friendly. The company polishes their skills and molds them according to their CRM policies, by training them.

5. How do you feel about the way Four Seasons entered the Paris/French market? What was good and/pr bad about the entry strategy, Why?

As a part of their strategy about becoming a global service provider, the company had to penetrate French market as it one of the leading tourists’ destination in today’s world. It was more of a necessity than a choice. The way that Four Seasons penetrated the French hotel industry was commendable. It looked at each and every aspect of penetrating the new market. It not only scrutinized the macro-environment very carefully, but it also analyzed the micro-environment very carefully, so that it could make amends according to the macro and micro environment in the French market. The benefits that the company will gain by pursuing this strategy is that it would capture another major chunk of European market; increased market share would translate into increased growth rates for the company.

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