[Welcome gift at Fairmont Masai Mara]
Travel Proprietors Take Note Beyond the regular in-room amenities hotels or vacation rentals provide, it's ultimately the little extras I remember---and change my opinion from "my vacation was good" to "oh.my.gosh. it was amazing." For example, I'm not going to look back and thank my lucky stars that my room in Venice had shampoo and conditioner because I expect that. It's the unexpected that makes me remember each destination I visit in an ultra-special way.
Here are some recent examples of small gestures that went a long way in terms of welcoming, acknowledging and personalizing each experience beyond the destination itself.
The Little Things
- Hot chocolate wake-up = Masai Mara
- Every night at dinner our server at the Fairmont Mara Safari Club would ask us what time we wanted to be woken up and what beverage we wanted: hot chocolate or coffee. Adding to the whole sleeping-in-a-lux-canvas-tent experience, the next morning someone would come to the tent with hot chocolate and a biscuit to wake us up. It was different and novel, and made you feel like you were 'in the bush.' But let's be honest, it was totally glamping!
- Welcome wine bottle = Sonoma
- In true wine country form, each guest who stays at the Faimont Sonoma Mission Inn receives a bottle of wine, presumably to start their wine tasting adventures off on the right foot.
- Nespresso cappuccino maker = Scottsdale
- I was more than ecstatic (and even tweeted about it) when I discovered my in-room Nespresso Machine at the Fairmont Scottsdale. Since most hotel coffee makers offer sub-par coffee, this up-scale offering was almost euro-esque.
- Cruising aboard Princess Grace's honeymoon yacht & manicure = Jamaica
- During our honeymoon, my husband and I stayed at the now foregone Grand Lido Negil (now Grand Breezes Negril). Our experience was excellent---in fact it was the best all-inclusive we've ever experienced---but what made it more special was the not-so-little extras. The option to cruise in Princess Grace's Honeymoon Yacht at sunset, or the complimentary manicure offered at the spa were incredible.
- Signature Floral Smell = Mandalay Bay
- Although this is not personal in any way, from the moment I walked into Vegas' Mandalay Bay, I was pleasantly surprised by the gentle, floral smell that permeated the entire hotel. If I ever go back to Vegas (which seems inevitable at some point in my life) the floral smell alone would make me re-book at Mandalay, especially given the unfortunate array of aromas that usually flood your nose in Sin City.
- Included Food...in Economy = Hawaiian Airlines
- Even though it's ironic, Hawaiian Airlines serves Italian-style food on its mainland to Island flights. In the wake of crazy airline cut-backs, at least they are still providing an actual meal--and one that's decent! Coupled with their excellent customer service, if I'm headed to the Islands, Hawaiian is my first choice!
Take-Away Creating a welcoming, genuine, sense-of-place makes guests feel comfortable; while the following gestures will create a sparkle in their eye: - being acknowledged - ie. "welcome back" - a personalized experience - ie. hotel stationary with their name - anticipating their needs - ie. welcome champagne or hot cloth for face and hands after long flight - localization - ie. giving wine in wine country