The Wall Street Jouirnal ran a piece on the little luxuries and personalizations that travel providers offer to their really frequent customers.
Now, I’m not necessarily one of the very best customers that any given travel provider may have. I’m a good customer of some specific hotels, staying a few times a year, year-in and year-out. But that’s it. So most places don’t have the personalized memory of my preferences.
But I do truly appreciate the refined service that comes from a hotel where I’m staying a few days remembering how I take my morning coffee after the very first time I order it. And remembering where I chose to sit, and ensuring the same spot is available for me at the same time throughtout my stay.
And Avis knows, “No Town Cars.” I’ll take a premium sedan if there’s nothing special on the lot, and no Cadillacs. But I don’t want a Chrysler 300. Of course, I’ve let them know this and they usually follow through. It isn’t something they just noticed and always deliver on, on their own.
Anthony Lee, who has worked at the Connaught hotel in London for the last 31 years, says his luxury hotel makes sure it helps busy chief executives gain precious time.
“Luxury is not about money. It is about something intangible,” Mr. Lee said. “It is about no barriers — no ifs, no buts.”
I don’t think this quite captures it. Certainly there’s an element of Gordon Gekko’s famous line in Wall Street about being rich enough not to waste time. And I appreciate the small elements of it that I receive. But it’s not just time, it anticipatory, personal service.
Mr. Lee, who is the sixth general manager at the Connaught in its 113 years of existence, says his frequent guests appreciate the “little, unexpected things” the hotel does for them.
After having coffee with an American who regularly stays at the hotel, he discovered her favorite kind of Starbucks coffee. When she came back from a trip in the countryside the following Monday, he had that same kind of coffee ready for her in her room. “She couldn’t believe it. She said she was never going to forget that. What does a Starbucks coffee cost? Nothing. But we both had fun with it,” he said.
To me, and in this story, how I take my coffee matters. Not having to sacrifice, or repeat myself, or think about how to get what I want or what I’m used to. That’s service, it engenders loyalty, and it is what sets apart a good hotel from a great one, makes a stay memorable, and leads me to be an evangelist for the property.