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The “More Than Perfect” Business Model with Paul Rutter

How to Apply the Hospitality Mentality to All Industries

Shep Hyken interviews Paul Rutter, global cruise director, speaker, trainer, and the author of You Can’t Make This Ship Up: Business Strategies, Life Lessons, and True Stories from Forty Years at Sea. He talks about the hospitality mentality in the cruise industry and how it can be applied to other businesses.

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Top Takeaways:

  • The hospitality mentality is key to creating a great customer experience in any type of business. Industries like hotels, restaurants, and cruise lines excel in this area because they live with their customers 24/7, which creates a unique dynamic for delivering outstanding service. We can all learn from their methods. 
  • Living with customers means managing their experience from the moment they start considering a purchase to the time they return for another one. It involves addressing any issues they may encounter, no matter how small, and ensuring their overall satisfaction throughout the entire journey. 
  • Employee engagement is crucial for maintaining a high level of service for any company or brand. In industries like cruising, where employees live and work together, fostering a positive work environment is essential to ensuring that employees wake up each day ready to deliver exceptional customer service. 
  • “More than Perfect Service” is all about where you are, where you would like to be, how you will get there, and making sure that your customers and employees sing your praises. 
  • You’re not just competing with other businesses in the same industry. You’re competing against every business in the world. Take other companies that deliver great service and design your training and education to emulate them. 
  • Plus, Paul shares how he managed a recent moment of misery of a cruise getting canceled and turned it into an opportunity to keep and impress customers. Tune in! 


“Forming relationships with people is what business is all about. It’s the little things that make you stand out, like learning somebody’s name or writing a thank you note. It’s what makes them want to come back.” 

“There’s always a lower price somewhere. So, you have to compete on something more than price. You have to compete on service.” 

“With the ‘More than Perfect Service’ model, we wanted perfect to be the starting point. Then, you just go a little bit above and beyond perfect to stand out in a crowd. As a result, people are willing to travel a little further to go to your business or spend a little bit more money.”  

“Attitude is everything. You have to wake up with the right attitude in order to do the job and excel at it.” 


Paul Rutter is a seasoned professional in the cruise industry who understands the unique challenges and dynamics of living and working with customers 24/7. He is the author of Repeat Business Inc.: The Business of Staying in Business and his latest book, You Can’t Make This Ship Up: Business Strategies, Life Lessons, and True Stories from Forty Years at Sea. 

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, New York Times bestselling author, award-winning keynote speaker, and host of Amazing Business Radio.   

This episode of Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken answers the following questions and more:   

  1. What is More Than Perfect® business model? 
  2. How does living with customers 24/7 impact the hospitality industry in unique ways? 
  3. Why is employee engagement crucial in maintaining outstanding service in the cruise industry? 
  4. How does the hospitality mentality apply to any and all businesses?  
  5. How do you make brand advocates out of customers and employees?

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