Showing the love…

In today’s trying times it is critical to ensure you are showing the love to those clients you already have.  If they feel loved and you are providing undisputed value, convenience or performance it makes it hard for them to change.  The following are a few examples of how I did and did no feel the love in the past few days:

Hotel Loyalty Program Love – As many know I travel a lot and spend on average 125 to 150 nights in hotels.  I am a member of all the major hotel loyalty programs and am very loyal to two of them – Starwood Platinum and Hilton Diamond.  Interestingly I have received emails or direct mail from most of these programs to vote for this year’s Freddie’s Award and if they want to win now is the time to show the love.

On a trip to Europe for SES London I stayed at both Hilton and Starwood properties. When I arrived in London at the Hilton Islington I was checked in at the Hilton Honors desk and it went well.  I was told breakfast was included in the package, which is great.  However, after a few keystrokes I was told that I had opted for 1,000 bonus points so they could not offer breakfast in a tone that I was somehow ripping them off.  He also made a point to tell me that there were no upgrades at that time.  We did not ask for them but as a Diamond they typically try to offer them.  At this point with Hilton I am batting about 3/10 for upgraded.  Nothing else special about the stay. 

My wife and I went on to Paris for the weekend.  Since it was on my dime we used my points for a room at the Westin Paris.  This is in one of the best locations we have ever stayed in Paris.  Since I was on points I did not expect anything but the deluxe room we had reserved.  Upon arrival and identification that I was Platinum we were taken to the Platinum check in area.  The guest relation’s manager told me that due to “my loyalty” they would upgrade us to a suite with a view of the Eiffel Tower.  They took us to the room, showed us around and made sure everything was acceptable.  About a half hour later they arrived with a bottle of wine to further welcome us to Paris.  The whole trip they made sure we were comfortable and happy – and I was using points not paying for it.  At Starwood we are batting 8/10 for upgrades even with points.

Heading back to London we were staying at the Hilton at Heathrow since we had an early flight.  We arrived at the Hilton around 9:30 pm.  We were paying for this room.  After arranging a car to take us to terminal 1 at 6am the desk manager.  The desk manager made sure to inform us that since we got the 1,000 points we were not eligible for the Executive Lounge as if we might actually use it.  The tone of his voice was very stern.

It was just an interesting contrast.  While I rarely care if I am upgraded –  I only care that the Internet works and that the room is comfortable and quite.  I try to stay at these types of hotels since I know they are typically centrally located and the Internet works.

To be fair to Hilton, my family and I stayed at the new Hilton in Beijing for one night in January on our way back from Thailand.   They upgraded both rooms without charge and went out of their way to arrange a private van and guide to take us on a quick tour of the Great Wall and Forbidden City.

The net is that in these times with cuts in budgets and business travel the smallest of issues can make a big difference.   While I know the hotels want/need to ink every dollar out of the guests they should stop and think about doing the slightest favor or offering simple things to loyal guests to help make them even more loyal.