"Good afternoon, and thank you for calling the Gran Bohemian Hotel -- this is Suzan at your service." The way it should be done.
Suzan passed me along to Marion, who was equally enthusiastic. She, in turn, connected me to the secretary of the gentleman who owns the hotel – just like that. Impressive, especially after having tried to contact business execs whose phone setups clearly suggest that they don’t want to be found.
I had not been aware of Richard Kessler and his 10 themed hotels, elegantly branded as The Kessler Collection. But I will long recall the exemplary welcome I received on the other end of his phone. He clearly recognizes the value of investing in the people it takes to enliven his properties, known for their “distinctive architecture, rare art and music, and exemplary service,” which I have no doubt runs like a golden thread through the entire business.
The Kessler experience reminded me of a hotel stay in Columbia, S.C. going on a month ago: the Clarion on Gervais Street. To tell the truth, we almost turned around and went somewhere else when we saw the property. The entrance was temporary and rather uninviting. A worn carpet led the way to the front desk. The place was under renovation, and management clearly had decided to do what business it could while one part of the facility was being torn down.
But the front desk folks welcomed us warmly, made good noises about our grandchildren (who were exploring every corner of the lobby as only a trio of curious toddlers can do) and explained the situation. The elevator was wobbly and the hallway carpets were grungy. The door to our room opened reluctantly and banged angrily against its metal frame. It was late and we were tired, so we decided to stay and ask for a discount at checkout time. However, by then the hotel staff had completely won us over – from several shifts of front desk people to the woman who cleaned our room.
Despite the less-than-perfect accommodations, we left smiling. There was no need for a discount. Plus, the kids found it fascinating to look out the window of our rooms in the morning as a power shovel demolished the building across the way.
The two very different hotels shared a common characteristic: a great experience, thanks not only to good people but also to management with the wisdom to hire, train and keep them.
TakeAway: Good people with great attitudes can make a huge customer experience difference – and create loyal brand advocates.
Content © by Brian E. Faulkner
Tags: Grand Bohemian Hotel, Orlando, The Kessler Collection, Clarion