Over the last couple weeks, I had the opportunity to stay at two different hotels in Idaho. Both hotels were large, national chains. The first hotel was clean, the guy at the desk was courteous and it was reasonably priced. Inside the nightstand was a free booklet that talked about how to live a happier life. The company didn’t have to provide the free book (“The Way to Happiness,” by L. Ron Hubbard); however, they went to the expense knowing that potentially busy business travelers might appreciate a fresh look on life.
The second hotel didn’t provide a free book. Instead, staff went above and beyond to provide a good experience. Their check-in procedure was quicker and friendlier. The room was much cleaner. They provided a variety of options for breakfast. The lady that set up our conference room was incredibly helpful as was their maintenance man. All of this was provided for slightly more expensive price than the first hotel.
Both hotels provided a similar service. Both did something special for those staying in their rooms. But which was more relevant? At the end of the day, I threw the book away and never looked beyond page two. I had other stuff to read. But I have talked with several others about the staff at the second hotel. Not only would I go back to the second hotel, they received a ton of positive word of mouth from myself and several of my coworkers.
People made the difference; not free stuff.