Skift Take

It is difficult to distill years of nuanced luxury training down into a single program, but Westfield's eagerness to look to luxury hospitality is a sign that it is headed in the right direction.

Could a shopping mall possibly offer service as comprehensive and accommodating as a luxury hotel?

One of the world’s largest mall operators Westfield Corp. intends to do just that with the introduction of its new customer training program “Service with Style.” The program was informed by top hotels and luxury resorts and aims to give employees the tools to interact with shopper at 33 U.S. shopping centers in a new way.

All front of house employees from brand ambassadors and center management representatives to security officers and valet attendants will go through training. Staff will go through a two-to-three month training program and work with a dedicated style coach that will be permanently based at each Westfield property.

Several hundred employees have already gone through the course and roll-out will continue in coming weeks.

The program was designed throughout the past 18 months in partnership with LRA by Deloitte and SGE International, which have helped design guest experience programs for luxury brands including Ritz-Carlton, St Regis, Waldorf Astoria New York, and W Hotels. In addition to the course, each property will also have a “style coach” on-hand to oversee the training.

“One of the things that we’ve been talking about for some time is we definitely feel that hospitality and a luxury level of customer service is really something that we want to use to differentiate ourselves as an organization and create memorable experiences,” said Jeff Adams, Westfield vice president of guest services told WWD.

“Really, the goal was to create a program that would put tools and resources and context in general of how to take care of our guests and retailers as they would expect to get at a luxury hotel.”

The training module is based on five core service. After the training, employees are expected to be able to deliver a 30-second elevator pitch about “Who is Westfield?,” demonstrate procedures related to Security and Housekeeping, understand sustainability procedures and participate in weekly 15-minute team huddles.

Team members are also expected to demonstrate that they can resolve guest questions and concerns at the first point of contact and show a working knowledge of retailers and restaurants.

We’ve written about the breadth of training that luxury hoteliers go through previously so it seems ambitious to distill that into a one-day course and expect drastic results.

Additional luxury services such as a bag check and delivery, translation services, and personal styling are available at the company’s 10 flagship properties.

Despite Westfields’ primary business in shopping malls, it is closely tied to the travel industry.

Westfield operates the shopping centers at 7 of the largest U.S. airports and last month celebrated its involvement in the luxury shopping area of JFK Terminal 8.

Westfield partnered with International Shoppes to redevelop nearly 10,000 square feet of space, which includes five stand-alone boutiques as well as stands that lead to a new nearly 6,000 square foot Duty Free store.

Hospitality and travel are not the only industries that Westfield management is taking cues from.

Last year Westfield co-CEO Steven Lowy spoke about the importance of technology and influence of Amazon at three-day technology and retail conference Shoptalk. He says that the company spends as much time on technology as real estate — introducing new initiatives that allow customers to shop online, order via apps, and investing in data-informed marketing.

Last month Westfield introduced Snapchat’s bright yellow vending machines Snapbots at seven of its properties to sell Snapchat’s sunglasses Spectacles.


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Tags: customer service, luxury, shopping

Photo credit: Crowds gather for a celebration for the opening of the Westfield World Trade Center mall in the oculus of the Transportation Hub, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016, in New York. Mark Lennihan / Associated Press

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