A recent article in USA Today’s Travel section covered how “Hotel Turndowns Get Creative.”  The article was referring to the chocolate on the pillow along with the nightly freshening up of the guest room.  Some creative, even extravagant, examples include hand-woven miniature dolls by local artists inMexico, “dream balm” that guests rub into pressure points to help them relax and many more. 


A friend of mine commented, “Wow.  These hotels are really trying to raise service to another level.”


In a sense he was right, but overall this was not about the service, but the experience.  But, these hotels are on to something.


Years ago the hotel amenity wars began.  Overly simplified, one day a hotel offered local newspapers to their guests.  Other hotels caught wind of this and did the same – or tried to do even better.  They offered a national paper, like The Wall Street Journal.  Then came fluffy towels.  You get the idea.  Depending on the price point of the hotel, they had to have certain minimum amenities to stay competitive.  So, to take it to the next level, they provided excellent service.  That is what made guests want to come back.  It wasn’t the newspapers or fluffy towels.  As long as the guest got those amenities, which are now basic standards, the service factor kicked in.


Now the hotels are doing it again, and it is working.  Here is the strategy:


Recognize that your business might be a commodity.  (Are you shopped by price?  That is a strong indication that you are caught in the commodity trap.)  Does your service strategy help to reduce or even eliminate the commodity trap?  If so, you are on the right track.  Now, what can you do to make it better?  Like the fancy turn-down amenities the hotels offer, what can you do to dazzle your customers, beyond just giving them great service?  It is adding what I call the “Experience Strategy.” 


A few examples…  The above hotel examples, for starters.  The restaurant that brings you complementary appetizer samples just to let the guest enjoy something new and different.   The grocery store produce department that let’s you sample the fruit.  The mail order catalog company that includes overnight shipping.  The list can go on and on. 


Notice that all of these things appear to be extras.  They aren’t.  They are calculated into the price, but the perception is that they don’t cost.  But, these extras create perceived value, help to eliminate the commodity trap and raise the customer experience.  It doesn’t have to be something you give away.  Companies use smell, touch, feel, color, etc. to help create a customer experience.  Companies such as Federal Express use dependability.


It doesn’t matter what business we are in.  We compete for customers.  What we sell has to do what it is supposed to do.  We have to deliver with service.  And finally, if we are really good, we’ll take it to the next level with an “Experience Strategy.”  Make the customer “feel” how good we are.


Ending with a great quote that sums this up.


“Here is a simple but powerful rule… Always give the customer more than they expect.”

     — Nelson Boswell


Recommended reading:  “The Experience Economy” by James Gilmore and Joseph Pine.


Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations.  As a professional speaker and author, Shep helps companies develop loyal relationships with their customers and employees.  For more information on Shep’s speaking programs and books, please contact (314) 692-2200. Email: shep@hyken.com  Web: www.hyken.com. For information on customer service training, go to www.TheCustomerFocus.com.


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