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Coleen Ellis Contributors News Pet Service

“Average?” Or “Can’t Be Beat?” Which One Are You?

It was just another week in a hotel.  After awhile, they all do seem to run together.  Not counting the hotels that are a part of a travel experience and are meant to be over-the-top, there are few that stand out from the every-day run-of-the-mill hotel experiences for a business traveler.

Anyway, it was just another week in a hotel.  This particular hotel, Average Hotel, is in Anywhere City, USA.  The hotel is a name brand hotel, average priced.  It’s a nice hotel.  They have a nice staff.  My sleeping needs are met.  They have an average work-out facility that suffices.  Food is okay.  Bar is friendly.


However, it amazes me that with a little bit of “oomph” they could be an “over-the-top” hotel.  There are certain things that stand out, causing a customer like me to ask if they really care.  From the check-in experience to the check-out experience, no one goes out of their way to make a customer feel good for spending their money there.  Little things like this,… after I’d completed my room service meal, I set the tray outside my door.  The next morning, the tray was still there when I know, for a fact, that two employees had been by that empty tray – one delivering my bill under the door and another delivering the USA Today paper.  Really, no one could bend down, pick up the tray, and do something “extra?”

Let’s take Hotel #2.  An Absolutely-Amazing-Hotel in Another City, USA.  This hotel is of exactly the same caliber in rankings and price of Average Hotel.  However, from the minute I walked into THIS hotel, I knew it was going to be “an experience!”  The front desk staff was incredibly friendly and welcoming!  I mean, I could tell they really cared that I was there!  A few stories stand out,…  After my first morning’s breakfast, I had some fruit left-over and was going to have it for part of my dinner that evening,… upon returning to the room after a long day of work, the front desk staff made mention that the fruit had been put on ice to keep it cold.  (Mind you – this is not the same person on the desk as when I’d left that morning,…  they had actually COMMUNICATED to each other about each guest and tid-bits that would be important for the entire morning to night team to know!)

But, here’s the most amazing part of my stay at this hotel:  when I got into my room, the towels had been artfully created into a DOG!  There on my bed was a “towel-dog” positioned with his little towel-paw on a book that I was reading!

When I went down to thank the staff for making my day, it was the same guy who had checked me in the night before.  His comment to me was heartwarming.  He said “I deducted from the name of your business in your email address (Two Hearts Pet Loss Center) that you probably liked animals.  I thought it might be perfect to welcome you back tonight!”

Two hotels. The same price for a night’s stay.  The same core objective – to provide a comfortable place to sleep.  But not the same overall objective.  Average Hotel never deviated off of a “comfortable place to sleep.”  An-Absolutely-Amazing-Hotel deviated to be a place that people were comfortable, a place where you felt like people cared, a place where the staff clearly loved what they did and felt empowered to make guest’s stay as fabulous as they could, and a place where every person on staff was viewed and viewed themselves as owners.

Before leaving An-Absolutely-Amazing-Hotel, I spoke to the manager to find out his secret to his incredible staff.  He confirmed it for me: “I empower them.  I want them to feel like owners and know that they are responsible for making a person’s day/stay!  Then, they like to compare stories on what they did to make a guest’s day.  It’s infectious!”

Of course, I asked what I could do to help him with travel and hotel reviews.  He graciously handed me a pre-printed list of places that were important to him for me to post to, from social sites to travel sites.  I couldn’t get to my computer fast enough to type those reviews for him.

So, I look at the funeral industry.  An industry where there’s still chatter about how revenues are declining because of cremation.  An industry that’s competitive.  An industry where the families want to know that they are getting a value for their dollar.  And, an industry where we are continually striving to provide death care experiences and rituals for people when we live in a death-avoidant society.

I ask you,… what are you doing to be THE Absolutely-Most-Amazing death care enterprise? 

Is your staff empowered to make each family comfortable?

To make each family member feel welcome and special?

Does each staff member treat your business like an owner?

Does the staff like to share stories internally about their successes in WHAT really made a family’s experience memorable?

Do they pick up the trash and debris around the property, even though that’s “not their job?”

Are they perceptive enough to learn things about people – without being told that information?  (The towel-dog!)

These are only a few questions that you should be asking yourself about your business.  But, if you begin to address these questions, and then let the next generation of questions organically come to you, trust me, the revenues will take care of themselves.

Because you will be able to count on a loyal customer, not just a satisfied customer, like me to take care of your marketing efforts as I shout it from the mountain-tops (or in our world – the internet!) how awesome you are!

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  • Tim O’Brien

    Coleen, excellent article, absolutely on target with your points and observations – I think maybe you found the time and inspiration to write it in one of those “average” places right after one of your “can’t be beat,” stays. All of us, regardless of our profession, can benefit from your insights and ideas – thanks – tim 

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheUrnman Larry Cooper

    That is what business is about!  I don’t understand why so many don’t get that! I was raised in a retail business and if the people don’t come in you don’t have a job! Great Article Coleen!

  • Tim O’Brien

    Larry, I think your comment “I was raised in a retail business,” explains why you get it and “so many don’t” – many Funeral Directors have never been in a more traditional business setting and have fallen back to a tradition that isn’t really based on “what business is about.”

  • http://funeralfinder.com/ Funeral Finder

    An excellent article, Coleen.  Indeed there are a lot of similarities between the hotel business and the funeral business.  You hit the nail on the head with the word “empowerment”.  When employees think and act like owners it makes all the difference in the world.

    Hotel #2 may have borrowed the “Towel Dog” from Carnival Cruise Lines.  My wife and I took a cruise for our honeymoon, and each night when we came back to the room there was a different towel animal there to greet us.  Of course, Carnival then tried to sell you a book on how to make your own towel animals…oh well.

    Matthew Palmer