TORONTO — Ryerson University is set to launch a new Luxury Management initiative at its Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. To kick off the announcement, the university hosted one of several scheduled events leading up to its program launch. The Luxury Management initiative is a natural extension of the university’s existing leadership.
Earlier this week, as part of this launch, Katie Taylor, chair of RBC and former president and CEO of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, was on hand as part of a breakfast at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, to talk about “The New Meaning of Luxury,” and then to be part of a one-on-one interview with the school’s Dean Daphne Taras.
In setting the stage for Taylor’s discussion on luxury, Frederic Dimanche, director, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Ryerson University, stressed there’s a fast-growing market for luxury in both Toronto and the country as a whole. “That creates a need for knowledgeable luxury employees,” he said, adding “There’s great competition for qualified staff and a lack of expertise in serving the luxury market.” He went on to explain “We are the first school in Canada to develop a program that will benefit all sectors that work with the luxury market, with a focus on leadership and customer-service excellence.”
As part of her introductory talk, Taylor stressed there’s a new meaning of luxury, touching on her time at Four Seasons as providing a series of great lessons about luxury. “When Isadore Sharp launched the Four Seasons brand,” she said, “he did it by focusing on one defining element: legendary service,” adding that “great luxury is a science.” Taylor said “When I was CEO, I never got a letter talking about the chandeliers or the marble in the bathroom; it was always about the service outcome. It’s not a nice to do, it’s a must have,” she stressed. The chair of RBC went on to ask how do you institutionalize that kind of service. ”The world of luxury is rising and spilling over so you have to have tools to ensure you [offer up luxury] flawlessly and routinely.” Sometimes, she said, those tools include technology, which enables staff to better understand the customer’s needs.
Taylor told the room full of business leaders from various sectors, “Canada is a rising destination for travel and the luxury leaders we train today can translate that.” She lauded Ryerson for taking on the challenge of creating this initiative and inviting business leaders to be part of the discussion to shape the program. “It will help [students] learn not just the general lessons but the particular lessons of luxury.”
In her interview with Dean Taras that followed her opening comments, Taylor said “there’s a lot of science that needs to be examined [in offering luxury] but what shouldn’t be lost is the importance of leadership,” in executing the level of luxury provided. “You need to know that your needs are being taken care of. There’s blind faith that it’s going to be good and there’s trust in the brand. That flows from leadership.”
As for timing of the launch, Dean Taras was hopeful that the program should be up and running by 2020, adding that Ryerson was interested in being the first school in Canada to offer the initiative. “Being the first mover is critical to us,” she said. “We have the structure.”