I traveled to Dallas, Texas last week for some meetings and stayed at the Hampton Inn Plano near the Dallas Apartment Finder office. I selected this hotel because of its location. I have to admit that I’m a hotel snob preferring full service hotels so I didn’t have very high expectations going in to this, outside of just a good night’s sleep and a short drive to the office. What I experienced was much greater.
While having breakfast the first morning, a woman from behind the counter noticed us (Carol Andrews, Marcia B and myself) and came over and started complimenting us on how we were dressed. She went on about how powerful and important we looked. She then asked questions about what kind of work we do. Of course we told her all about the Apartment Finder ORANGE!!! She loaded us up with snacks for our day and walked us to our car. That night when I returned to my room, I had three ORANGE roses in a small vase sitting on the dresser in my room with a card. The card was from the Director of Sales at Hampton Inn Plano and read, “Enjoyed visiting with ya’ll this morning! Safe Travels, Crystal.” She also left roses in Marcia and Carol’s rooms.
The next morning when I woke up, there was a note under my door. It wasn’t your typical bill. It was a letter from the Hampton Inn that read: “Dear Valued Guest, as you may be aware, we have cold weather and storms on the way to the North Texas area. To ease any apprehension, we at the Hampton Inn Plano have rooms available in case you need to extend your stay for an extra night in the event that your travel plans change. The front desk agents will be constantly monitoring the weather conditions via the internet to keep you updated in case you have questions. The front desk will also be happy to let you know the status of your flight such as delays, cancellations, etc. Your comfort and safety are important to us here at the Hampton Inn Plano, so please let us know what we can do to assist you”. Then at breakfast, Crystal came out , we had a very nice conversation and of course, we thanked her for our roses. She loaded us up with snacks for our day and walked us to our car. As we were loading our luggage she subtly said, “I hope you will stay with us again when you return to Plano and if I can ever assist you with your travels please let me know. I will be glad to set up a corporate rate for you to help save your company money.”
I have to admit that I was not expecting this level of service. The sad thing is that I don’t get this level of service from the full service hotel industry that I’ve been supporting for the last year. The whole experience got me thinking. We’re in an industry where the product is very similar wherever you go - they’re apartments, after all. We’re in an economy where our older units are competing with brand new units with the same rents. The same thing is happening in the hotel industry. You can get a one night stay in a full service hotel for about the same price as Hampton Inn. So, I guess you know where I’m going with this…..it’s the level of service you provide that sets you apart. In Seth Godin’s blog, What’s Expected and What’s Amazing, he mentions a 7 Eleven clerk who broke all sorts of coffee sales records because she remembered the name of every customer who came in every morning. He refers to it as “Unexpected and amazing.” He goes on to say, “You can raise the bar or you can wait for others to raise it, but it's getting raised regardless.” I love that he said that because I always say, “You can get on the train or you can get on the train but either way you are getting on the train."
So, cheers to “Unexpected and Amazing” and cheers to Crystal and the staff at the Hampton Inn Plano for being unexpected and amazing! My challenge to anyone reading this is to raise your bar, get on the train, be unexpected and amazing to your customers.