Everyone has baggage
In fact we had bag-loads courtesy of my fiancés desire to pack for every conceivable occasion as we arrived at a prominent hotel in Hong Kong. Despite the luggage challenge, I was excited about the prospect of staying at a hotel that was about 3 stars above my usual station. Armed with confidence given this hotel rated highly in its star category, the last minute website deal that gave us an attractive rate, the positive guest review comments posted, not to mention the free upgrade voucher to a suite – my expectations were high. And this hotel delivered – the sweet scented foyer was grand, the front line staff were friendly and attentive, the room was beautiful with more technology than I knew what to do with, the roof top pool had exceptional views, alluring bars, quality restaurants, cigar rooms, spa facilities and the list goes on.
But in a field where a 5-6 star rating suggests a place is ‘top class’ – how do you rate one ‘exceptional’ hotel from another? Does price set the expectation or is it the comfort of the bed, the size of the television, the proximity of its location or the depth of the mini bar that wins us over? Is it the ‘grandness’ of the foyer or genuineness of the smile that greets you? The balance of such expectations are of course essential, but what is to say a five star hotel down the road would not deliver an equally impressive experience? It’s the little things you may say, but how do you define what they are?
Once I was able to overcome the challenge of trying to suppress the child-like excitement of checking out the hotel facilities so as to suggest to other guests that I was used to such extravagance, I started to pay more attention to the small things. First port of call was to offload some of these bags that were dominating the impressive floor of our suite. As we placed some of our luggage in storage the hotel baggage ticket read ‘EVERYONE HAS BAGGAGE’. I chuckled thinking how those three words reassured me that I am not the only one having to manage such excess.
We then looked to venture out into the city and came to the realisation that we would need firstly a map and then translate to our cab driver where we needed to go. The concierge of course negotiated the deal at the door, but handed me a card that read ‘TAKE ME’ with tick boxes to various locations around Hong Kong with a return to sender detail – essential for late night return. The free hotel umbrellas were also a welcome touch in case of the inclement rain forecast.
On return to the hotel room, a drink was required. Not brave enough to usually pay for anything from a mini bar, it was impossible to resist at least a look – to which the card inside read ‘DON’T WORRY WE WON’T TELL ANYONE’ possibly playing on the regular corporate rule of it being a no-go zone. The next morning breakfast was of course exceptional, but as I waited a ruthlessly efficient 2 minutes for my coffee I noticed my place mat had the top news headlines from every major source for that day, the weather forecast and currency movements. I marvelled at how the hotel knew that I might have 2 minutes of downtime that needed satisfying.
It seemed that every conceivable thought I had at the hotel had been covered before I knew I needed it. In fact it became a treasure hunt of enjoyment (get out more I hear you say...) as I opened cupboards within the room awaiting a smart note – from the ‘CLEAN ME’ label on the dry cleaning bag, the ‘NOTE TO ME’ on the stationary, to the ‘READ ME’ on the daily newspaper sleeve or the ‘CONNECT ME’ information pack as to how to use the technology in the suite. The most favoured was what I found when I went to plunder the rich bevy of bathroom products on check out which read ‘CHECK OUT THESE GOODIES’. They even knew I intended to knick the soaps...
The question is often asked how an organisation in a generic category can differentiate itself from its competition and deliver an exceptional customer experience? The small things that count are those that are anticipated before your customers know they are needed. It was clear that this hotel had anticipated its customer needs across every conceivable touch point. Everyone has baggage and is looking to engage in an organisation’s product or service in which to address their requirements. Anticipate customer needs and deliver them in a manner that will delight to build greater loyalty.
‘LIKE ME?’ the hotel questioned on the survey – bloody long time. And I will be return as a consequence.
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