Interview: Tips for an exciting career as a butler in luxury hotels and villas

Α Decrease font Enlarge font
Interview: Tips for an exciting career as a butler in luxury hotels and villasThe highest paid butler in the world is in Bell Air California and he puts $2, 2 million dollars in his pocket a year with everything else paid for

Gary Williams is a unique case.  With a great career as a butler in luxury hotels, private households around the world, foreign missions in London, Gary was entrusted by The British Butler Institute* to head up the training team as Principal with the responsibility of making it the finest butler and service centre of excellence training school in its field.  And, of course, he made a success of it, expanding The British Butler Institute brand worldwide working with partners from across the globe to train service excellence professionals to match the demand of discerning clients the world over.

No stranger to Greece, Gary Williams has personally trained staff in various hotels and other fine establishments in luxury residential and hospitality markets.  In this interview he tells us about Greek tourism & hospitality industry, his vision as a trainer and the amazing work of a modern day butler.

In the tourism and hospitality industry we usually come across Brits as guests or travellers.  But I understand that you are here in another capacity.  What are you doing in Athens? 

You are right!  Three million of us I understand visit your beautiful country every year.  

I’ve been invited back to do a follow up training at the British Embassy in Athens.  I’m with the British Butler Institute and this is my third time with the Residence team.  I’ve been informed that the British Residence in Athens throws the best diplomatic parties in Athens and ranks amongst the 3 busiest British Residences in the world! Obviously guests’ experiences have elevated but having said that we still need to work on a consistent basis to make sure we get higher and higher standards to match these experiences. 

You see, my job this time round is to give them the skills to match the expectations of the Ambassador and to surpass the expectations of the guests who come here.  This is a refresher actually at the British Embassy’s request, to share with the Residence staff the latest trends in the hospitality industry and to add to their skills so they are able to deliver across the board in the areas of delivery that they are already doing.  

You’ve got a long and rich experience of tourism and hospitality industry models from around the world.  How would you describe the Greek model, what would you say its strong points are and what are the challenges for the years ahead?

The strong point of Greece is of course its position; the Greek islands, the beautiful beaches. Greece is got everything going for it in terms of its location and ease of access.  And you’ve got mild weather almost all year round, so tourism sector is not a seasonal thing anymore.  Visitors choose Greece for longer summer holidays but for city-breaks all year round as well.  

What I have noticed lately is that in fact Greece’s luxury sector seems to be expanding, there is a lot more luxury hotels coming into the market. Plus, one should not forget the huge yachting industry which is blooming with VIPs and celebrities flying out and taking off on a yacht to explore Greek islands.  So you’re talking about high-end customers who expect high-end experience from start to finish and this goes beyond their hotel room or their breakfast.  It means fine dining, luxury shopping, services.  In this sense tourism industry in Greece is similar with tourism industries across the world: with luxury properties you need the skills. It’s all very well having a luxury property but, if you don’t have the staff to deliver the skills that the clients expect, it won’t really work.  Especially when you are charging lots of money! So that’s really not unique to Greece, it’s a phenomenon we see across the world with countries that are experiencing blooms like Greece, - Mexico is such an example.

How does your training contributes to the facility’s reputation and, ultimately, to the guest’s experience?

You are right; it IS all about reputation and guest’s experience.  BBI training and expertise covers all luxury tourism and hospitality sectors and goes across the board in a holistic approach.  For some years now we have been providing training to customers’ service staff in places like CHANEL and Salvatore Ferragamo in Florence.   

We offer custom-made course for different establishments and different operations always on the same very high standards.  For example, we train staff for airport private executive lounges:  in conjunction with IAM Jet Centers in the Caribbean we have just won 2 of the world’s prestigious awards, best business lounge in the world and the most friendly lounge in the world! 

So what we are doing? We have a real impact on the staff. We train the staff and as long as they are delivering what we train, this brings success. If you take countries like Mexico, we are increasing tips for the staff by at least 30%; in some cases even 200%! So what we are saying is whatever we train put it into practice.

What is the role of a Butler today?  How is it different depending on whether one works for a private household, a resort, a club, etc.?  Why would someone choose to follow this career?

The role of the butler today is multitasking! It depends on who you are working for! So if you are working for a principal that needs you to cook and drive you might be doing that. We are doing all the traditional services that the butler used to do, polish silver, fine dining, packing suitcases, and polishing shoes. We are doing all of that and much more as well. We are managing households, we are doing budgets, inventory controls, we are looking after pets, we are cooking, we are doing cocktails, we are coffee brewesters. Essentially whatever the principal needs we’ll try and have the skills to match that. So we become multiskilled!

Essentially you are talking about a very exciting career, extremely hard work and very rewarding. You are highly paid, you work in beautiful locations, most times you’ve got a car, a house, all your food paid for, you are experiencing what the rich experience, however, you still need to be highly skilled, they need to trust you, you need to be properly trained and for the right person it is the most amazing, amazing career! 

The highest paid butler in the world is in Bell Air California and he puts $2, 2 million dollars in his pocket a year with everything else paid for. That’s the highest paid in the world but essentially it’s the most amazing job! No one really knows about the industry. People think the butler has died out a long ago but that’s not the case at all. It’s growing and in fact we can’t keep up with the growth which is quite amazing. So we have to turn people down! Of course we don’t want to turn people down but it’s just the nature of it. People want highly trained staff.

So what would you say the mission of a butler is? Regardless of whether they work in a private household, restaurant, hotel etc.

The core ingredient is that we’ve got to please whoever we are serving. And the only way we can do that is by consistency, anticipation, attention to the finest detail; listening and acting. So we teach those skills to be able to do that. Every client is different; they want different things; coffee at different times, turndowns at different times, different things so we’ve got to make sure we can understand the client and deliver all those services.

What is the most rewarding part of the work as a trainer? 

I would say when you actually change people’s lives you see it happen! For example we have a wonderful Greek chap who came on our course in Venice, Stathis.  When Stathis finished the course, he went to be the butler of the King and Queen of Greece. When I see that, that gives me a great joy! When I see people earning 100% more tips it gives me great joy!  When I see people coming and saying ‘Gary I want to change my life, I don’t know anything about this industry but I want to work in it and get jobs’. It’s amazing! When you see staff that are juniors and then they move up the ranks very quickly it’s very very rewarding. When you see people come after the class and they say ‘Gary I’ve changed my life!! It’s amazing! If you look at our website we’ve had many many testimonials! We had a lady recently she didn’t know what to rely, she came on the course and I said ‘I’m gonna put you on a cruise liner as a butler! She said: that’s my dream!!!’ where is she today? She is a butler on Royal Caribbean cruise liners! This is what gives us great joy!

What is the single most critical piece of advice you give to your students? 

One of the most critical things is you must love this industry! 

 

 

 

Tornos
  1. 20/02 00:48

    Sounds Greek to Me: Celebrate Patras Carnival at the Athens Airport

  2. 20/02 00:39

    Celine Dion to give a concert at the Olympic Stadium of Athens on July 31

  3. 20/02 00:35

    International Greek Language Day marked at Socrates Academy in US

  4. 20/02 00:30

    Ambassador in Athens: US committed to Greece’s security and prosperity

  5. 20/02 00:00

    OTE's chief: 'Performance in the last quarter crowned a very solid 2019'

  6. 19/02 23:46

    Minister: Government to proceed with closed type hosting facilities

  7. 19/02 23:13

    Commissioner Schinas: EC will stand by Greece's regional authorities

  8. 19/02 21:06

    AP: Greece’s first official mosque will commence services this Spring

  9. 19/02 19:54

    European Union puts Parthenon Marbles return to Greece on Brexit list

  10. 19/02 17:38

    UNWTO places tourism high on European Union’s agenda

  11. 19/02 15:29

    Greek PM will work to secure as many European Union funds as possible

  12. 19/02 13:24

    Tsiknopempti celebrated at the Acropolis Museum restaurant

  13. 19/02 12:04

    Expanding Greece and UAE's strategic cooperation will boost region's stability

  14. 19/02 10:22

    Airlines and posts for a sustainable and reliable airmail network

  15. 19/02 03:07

    Greece-UAE Broader Strategic Cooperation Forum held in Athens

  16. 19/02 03:04

    Greek PM: Lignite phase-out a key aspect of national energy policy

  17. 19/02 02:59

    Greek Youth Summit in Melbourne inspires commitment to community

  18. 19/02 02:56

    Greek state budget recorded a primary surplus of €498 million in January

  19. 19/02 02:55

    Cyprus protests Turkey’s illegal Famagusta plans at EU's top level

  20. 19/02 02:27

    Historic Plaka single-arch stone bridge in Greek Region of Epirus restored

  21. 19/02 02:02

    New space dedicated to ancient Greece at Musée des Moulages in Montpellier

  22. 18/02 23:40

    Cyprus President Anastasiades discusses EIB support for local projects

  23. 18/02 22:37

    Greek Foreign Ministry's Secretary General visits United Arab Emirates

  24. 18/02 21:15

    Athens suburban and intercity train services resume after 24-hour strike action

  25. 18/02 19:07

    Rallies in downtown Athens against social security bill concluded

  26. 18/02 17:47

    Summer Nostos Festival organized between June 21-28, 2020 in Athens

  27. 18/02 15:32

    Media report: Short-term rentals soar in Greek cities and neighborhoods

  28. 18/02 11:55

    Greek PM: Government is moving ahead with its national reforms plan

  29. 18/02 11:22

    AP: Europe’s busiest airport at Heathrow hit by second day of disruptions

  30. 18/02 11:11

    Cyprus has highest number of marriages per capita in European Union

  31. 18/02 02:25

    World Bank: Cyprus reunification would boost national income by 7% in a decade

  32. 18/02 02:18

    Greek FM hails EU Foreign Affairs Council's decision to enforce Libya arms embargo

  33. 18/02 02:14

    Greek government pulls back migrant detention plans following backlash

  34. 18/02 02:11

    Social insurance bill tabled by government in Greek Parliament on Monday

  35. 18/02 01:58

    Australia’s daily Greek newspaper "The Greek Herald" celebrates 94 years

  36. 18/02 01:49

    Two new permits for hotels in Chania and Corfu in Greece

  37. 18/02 01:44

    Greece and Turkey commence talks on confidence-building measures

  38. 18/02 01:35

    German ambassador hails HELPE-Juwi solar power park in Kozani of Greece

  39. 17/02 22:12

    US authorities renew tariff exemptions for Greek olive oil and cheese

  40. 17/02 20:30

    Tourist arrivals in Cyprus this January rise by 4.5% annually

  41. 17/02 15:00

    Greek chefs win bronze medal in culinary Olympics 2020

  42. 17/02 14:48

    Athens transport and public services affected by Tuesday strike in Greece

  43. 17/02 10:28

    2nd Athens Fashion Film Festival concludes at Technopolis on Sunday

  44. 16/02 15:01

    Obama invites Giannis Antetokounmpo in Chicago event (video)

  45. 16/02 14:56

    Turkey to reopen Varosha ghost town on divided island of Cyprus

  46. 16/02 14:50

    Mobile app could offer solution to Motorways’ electronic tolling in Greece

  47. 16/02 14:45

    American Hellenic Institute protests Turkey turning church museum to mosque

  48. 16/02 14:40

    Sea route between Greece and Cyprus discussed at ministers’ meeting

  49. 16/02 14:37

    New President of the Greece’s Council of State announced

  50. 16/02 14:33

    Piraeus port to Athens city tram service gets another setback

  51. 16/02 14:19

    Reuters: Greek islanders protest against plans to construct new migrant camps

  52. 16/02 12:14

    Greek Health Minister proposes e-platform on coronavirus at EU ministers’ meeting

  53. 16/02 10:09

    Greek banks will place more than €7 billion in the bond market

  54. 15/02 21:28

    Hollywood stars describe Greece as their absolute favorite to visit

  55. 15/02 21:23

    Greek Foreign Minister in Munich for 56th Security Conference

  56. 15/02 21:00

    Rising interest in e-platform for primary residence protection in Greece

  57. 15/02 17:11

    Minister: New decisions on asylum ready within 24 days in Greece

  58. 15/02 15:54

    In France the first dead Chinese from the Coronavirus outbreak in Europe

  59. 15/02 15:46

    No buses, trolleys, tram and metro in Athens due to strike on Tuesday

  60. 15/02 15:04

    Greece still has one of the highest numbers of radio stations in Europe

  61. 15/02 13:40

    Greek students create smartphone application to fight sea pollution

  62. 15/02 12:39

    Greek tennis star Maria Sakkari wins through to St. Petersburg semi-final

  63. 15/02 11:30

    United States government offices in Greece to close on February 17

  64. 14/02 21:14

    St. Valentine's: Crete has its own Patron Saint of Love, the Martyr Yakinthos

  65. 14/02 20:37

    Cyprus’ building permits rise sharply between January-November 2019

  66. 14/02 20:28

    European Investment Bank head: Greek economy's prospects are excellent

  67. 14/02 20:12

    Energy Minister: Greece to launch tender for 49% of HEDNO in September

  68. 14/02 18:41

    Strong Belgian interest in Greek destinations for 2020

  69. 14/02 18:05

    Greek government aims at the dynamic development of cycling tourism

  70. 14/02 16:12

    Greek Prime Minister: The creation of well paid jobs is a government priority

  71. 14/02 12:19

    Reuters: Air China cancels flights to Greece due to public safety concerns

  72. 14/02 01:20

    Media report: Affluent Chinese cash in on Greek golden passports

  73. 14/02 01:17

    Hollywood actor Gerard Butler to attend Battle of Thermopylae anniversary

  74. 14/02 01:13

    GNTO records strong interest for early bookings from Italy

  75. 14/02 01:08

    Ancient Greek Art Exhibition at Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens

  76. 14/02 00:48

    Municipality report: Wood borer insect threatens Athens' mulberry trees

  77. 13/02 23:45

    Chinese Cosco's new online platform for Greek port of Piraeus meets opposition

  78. 13/02 22:45

    Minister: Feasibility study on e-mobility soon to be finalised in Greece

  79. 13/02 22:09

    Greece and Algeria united against any foreign intervention in Libya

  80. 13/02 21:47

    Sales of new cars kept growing in Greece during January

  81. 13/02 21:40

    Piraeus Bank successfully completes €500 million bond issue in Greece

  82. 13/02 21:26

    Research: Over 4,700 infected people have recovered from the coronavirus

  83. 13/02 21:03

    Cyprus signs deal with Israeli consortium for Larnaka port and marina

  84. 13/02 19:52

    European Commissioner Gentiloni: Greek economy well on track

  85. 13/02 19:16

    Greece's Council of State to announced ruling on Athens Metro Line 4 tender

  86. 13/02 18:53

    Scandinavian airlines removed advertising following online criticism (video)

  87. 13/02 18:24

    AP: How COVID-19 virus is impacting Asia’s cruises and passengers

  88. 13/02 16:37

    British Airways breaks fastest subsonic New York-London flight record

  89. 13/02 16:31

    Tourism Minister: Nearly 1 million Israelis elect Greece for their vacations

  90. 13/02 14:11

    European Commission: Greek economy to grow by 2.4% during 2020

  91. 13/02 13:26

    ForwardKeys: Fewer Chinese tourists in Europe due to Coronavirus outbreak

  92. 13/02 12:18

    The world’s first floating city to be built within the next decade (video)

  93. 13/02 10:37

    Increased chances of European Central Bank purchasing Greek bonds

  94. 12/02 23:42

    Orthodox Archbishop makes first official visit to Consulate General of Greece in Sydney

  95. 12/02 23:36

    Stavros Niarchos Foundation “Health Initiative” grants €400 million in Greece

  96. 12/02 23:28

    Cypriot Diaspora Youth Conference takes place in Canberra of Australia

  97. 12/02 23:23

    The growth rate of arrears to the Greek government has eased

  98. 12/02 23:14

    Religious Tourism report: The doors of Halki Seminary will open again

  99. 12/02 22:47

    Submerged buildings found in ancient city and modern luxury resort of Crete

  100. 12/02 22:37

    PM welcomes arrival of first of Aegean's 46 new planes