President and Chief Operating Officer
Herve Humler currently serves as the president and COO of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC, and is known by his employees as a kind leader. Serving as one of the foremost figures in the luxury hotel industry, Humler has used his decades of experience (which dates back to 1983) to help steer the company toward global growth and evolution.
However, he’s done so much more than that. As part of the original executive team that created the hotel more than 30 years ago, Humler has made it his mission to care for the company, his customers and his employees via his sincere dedication. Referring to his employees as “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen,” Humler believes that good customer experience is tied to employee recognition and empowerment. This is why Humler himself is known to train the staff himself and why he gives them the power and trust to fix issues at hand, even giving employees at any level $2,000 per customer to spend to fix any incident.
The significant achievements under his leadership include maintaining The Ritz-Carlton’s top-ranked position for eight out of 10 years in the luxury hotel segment of J. D. Power’s North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index (NAGSI) Study. Notably, the last two years of this also saw the hotel achieving the highest score in the history of the study, as well as becoming the first Founding Partner of IMPACT 2030.
Humler is a French native, a baccalaureate degree holder from the University of Abidjan and a graduate of the Hotel School in Nice, France. He currently lives in Washington D.C. with his wife and two children. He devotes time as an advisory board member at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, where he helps support the next generation of leaders.
Herve Humler, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC - Why We Recognized Him:
Kind leadership comes in many forms; Herve Humler of the Ritz-Carlton chooses respect. He insists on referring to all his employees as "Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen,” and actively creates an atmosphere of equality throughout his business. This is a perfect example of how a simple pleasantry can be powerfully important, especially when it’s backed up by real intention and commitment.
“ The attitude I strive to get across to my employees is this: “You are not servants, because unlike a servant, I want you to be engaged with the customer—you have a brain, you have a heart and I want you to use them,’” explains Humler. “This is why we say, and have always said, that we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen. We mean this. I believe in the power of recognition and empowerment leading to great employee engagement. And employee engagement is critical to guest engagement.”
For Humler, caring for his customers and respecting his employees is more than just the mission of Ritz-Carlton, but it is his personal mission as well. He has been with the company for 38 years and committed to creating that same kind of loyalty throughout the organization through his sincere dedication to his employees and his customers.
“I encounter executives sometimes from other companies who tell me, “Oh, yes. We have a mission statement – it’s about four or five pages long. It’s somewhere in the CEO’s office, and accumulates a thicker layer of dust every year,” explains Humler. “The executive attitude they’re showing here is that employees don’t work to create excellence, they only work for a paycheck. I disagree with this wholeheartedly–in fact it makes me feel, in cases like this, that it’s the CEOs who should be reformed today, not the employees.”
For Humler, loyalty in the customers comes from the wonderful experiences and memories they get at the hotel, but it all comes back to an investment of time and respect for the employees who create those experiences, which is why he makes a point to go and train the people himself when he opens a hotel, going the extra mile for the company, the company reputation, and for his customers and employees. And it all comes from a place of mutual respect. Keeping the customer is Humler's number one goal and treating his guests and employees with respect is how he does it.
One of the most powerful proofs of this circle of respect is giving every employee, at any level $2,000 to spend per customer on any incident to fix whatever went wrong in order to create the memories that are so important to Ritz Carlton. Giving the “Ladies and Gentlemen” the power and trust to fix the issues at hand not only makes the experience better for the customer but allows the employees to have autonomy to make them feel like they are the shop owner and small business owner we mentioned earlier in this article.
"It’s how much we trust them to do the right thing,” explains Humler, “how much we trust them to resolve a guest issue well, and how much we trust them to always think of creative and memorable ways to elevate the experience.”
All of this very genuine caring for customers and employees alike in a concerted effort to create a wonderful and beautiful world within a world at their hotels truly reminded us of that traditional mom and pop shop and small business that thrives on their personal relationships and the care they have for their patrons. Humler is using the same tactics to run one of the most iconic hotel chains in the world, proving that not only can you run a large multinational corporation with the ideals of kindness and caring, but that you would be a fool not to!
Tenure at Current Position
|Ritz- Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.||1983 - Present||Bulgari Hotels & Resorts|
|University of Abidjan|