The Personal Touch Goes a Long Way

If you haven’t seen our “Off the Cuff” video series, I hope you’ll take a moment to jump on our website——and take a look. We launched the series over a year ago, and have been unveiling new personalities every two weeks. We’ve discovered, and revealed, what industry executives wanted to be when they grew up (and have received some interesting answers to say the least!), the best advice they’ve been given, their professional pet peeves, whether they like to refresh or reuse linens and if they prefer coffee in their room or in the lobby, among many other things. The whole premise of the series is to get to know the person behind the professional—and have a little fun doing so.

After developing the questions we pose to each of our spotlighted executives, we give them a test run with members of the Hotel Business staff. I have, myself, sat and answered each and every one of the dozens of questions we’ve come up with so I can gauge the ease and interest of the queries before we “spring them” on our good-natured subjects. Asked as quick questions designed to elicit impromptu responses without preparation, we want to make sure it all goes smoothly in the execution. And, for me, so far, so good. Until I hit a snag in this last round of questions: What was the nicest personal touch you’ve experienced at a hotel?

Hmm. I’ve had many nice experiences at hotels, but nothing super special in terms of personal touch, I thought. Yes, there was a time when the housekeeper wrote me a personal note, using my first name, wishing me a good stay. Made me feel special. But, other than that, in my own travels, nothing above and beyond. And then, I went on my most recent vacation.

I just returned from a two-week vacation in Europe with an itinerary that included Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava and Prague (I highly recommend all of these cities if you haven’t been to them). During the first part of our trip, we stayed at Courtyard by Marriott Budapest City Center. On the day we were checking out and leaving to catch a train to Vienna, we had secured a taxi via the front-desk associate to pick us up and take us to the station. We had plenty of time. But the clock started ticking and the desk agent started calling, and no cab was coming. And this is when Marriott employees Nikolett and Bence jumped into action—without any prompt from us and despite other guests waiting to check in and out—and calmly and confidently made getting us to our train on time their personal mission. Phone calls were made, trench coats donned (it was raining), as they tried to hunt one down for us. When they were eventually successful in getting us a ride, Nikolett met the driver on the curb and paid our fare in advance, thanking us for our patience, wishing us safe travels and saying, “No guest should have to go through this.” Nice personal touch.

Nature vs. nurture. Some people are just helpers, kind and considerate. But, as we all know, too, it’s often the culture of a company, a brand, that instills certain values in its employees. That trains them to promote to the world those core values—each employee a reflection of the corporate identity. This issue of Hotel Business focuses both editorially and advertorially on corporate culture. There’s our cover story, a report from our recent roundtable, hosted and sponsored by The Wall Street Journal, which speaks to the various steps our panelists’ companies and organizations have made to create a culture of inclusion, diversity, leadership and service. And the strides that still need to be taken. The article starts on page 18. We also hear directly from some of our advertising partners, such as Concord Hospitality, Chesapeake Hospitality, Davidson Hotels & Resorts, My Place and JMC Global, about their respective corporate cultures, as they share stories of corporate identity, company image and how the right ones can attract and retain talent.

We’d love to keep this conversation going, so send me an email ([email protected])  and let me know about the workplace culture in your company. I’d love to share your story.

P.S. In case you were wondering, we not only made the train, we had a few minutes to spare.