I had the opportunity to spend two nights at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach, California, a couple of weeks ago for my parents' 60th wedding-anniversary celebration. I could talk forever about the brioche French toast, fantastic ocean views, and the luxurious pillow-top beds.
Honestly, though, I'd expect those things, given the price I was paying. What will bring me back to the resort was the impression the unexpected small touches left on me. You don't have to be in the hospitality business to realize that excelling at small things is a recipe for customer loyalty.
Here are seven "small things" that stood out during our stay and apply to most businesses:
1. Notice What's Important
When my wife and I got to the check-in counter, we were assigned to our hotel room. The staffer noticed we had small children and immediately brought out a wagon full of stuffed animals and encouraged our kids to pick one. This seemingly small gesture showed the resort was paying attention to what is most important to us.
2. Be a Guide
Rather than just hand me the room key, the clerk stepped around the front desk, told me he was going to tour my family and me around the property and then escort us to our room. And that's just what he did. Not sure how the hotel managed that with multiple people checking in at the same time, but it was impressive. Do you do this when you give clients direction?
3. Start the Morning Right
I love it when hotels offer morning coffee. But it is usually in very small cups, and you inevitably wind up going back repeatedly for more. At the Montage, the coffee cups looked about the same size as a Starbucks Venti. And the coffee was free until 11 a.m. What a great way to start the day.
4. Empower the Unexpected
At breakfast one morning, we celebrated my 12-year-old nephew's birthday. During the meal, unbeknownst to me or my family, our Montage waiter slipped out of the hotel, went to his car, and brought back a book that he gave to my nephew as a gift. Can you imagine? What small, unexpected touches do you enable your employees to offer without having to ask permission?
5. Don't Just Pass By
As usual, at the Montage I often saw hotel employees in the hallways or outside walkways. But in addition to the standard "good morning" and pleasant smile, the Montage workers went out of their way to purposely step aside and create a path for me, whether I was with a group or walking alone. Instead of two people mindlessly passing each other, we had a moment to interact.
6. Communicate Price Clearly
When I checked out of the hotel and asked for a bellman to help my family and me with our bags, he also brought our bill to the room so we could check it then and raise any issues or questions. I have never experienced that kind of active transparency; it was great to have someone make sure the details of the bill fit the service we paid for.
7. Leave Them With a Lasting Memory
When our car was loaded up and my family and I were ready to go, not only did we find the Montage staffers had left two bottles of water in the car cup holders but also two logo baseball caps on the dashboard for my wife and me. We drove away with smiles on our faces.
What did these "extras" cost the hotel? Not much more than the commitment to excellence and the clearly thorough internal training program.
I've already made my hotel reservations at the Montage for next year. Next time, I'll stay for two weeks.