The staff that made me feel at home on the road
When traveling, we almost always remember the times when service misses the mark and often fail to realize that great service typically goes unnoticed. Even though great service is sometimes hard to spot, I’ve found that it’s these details that make a memorable trip. But what does great service mean? To me, this is when someone goes above and beyond what is expected to give you personal service in a completely surprising way. So while I loved the morning wake-up knocks on my door at the Conrad Hong Kong with a fresh pot of French press coffee, this was expected and didn’t feel personal.
Amenities that are included with a luxury hotel, first class tickets, or due to status are fantastic and on occasional travel, really help add to the comfort of a trip; but after a while, these become anticipated and start to feel like standard treatment. Once I reached this point, what I craved was a home-like routine and personal connection. Staff that weren’t just doing their job duties and were focused on connecting with you personally so they could deliver personalized service. There is where I’ve seen small budget properties able to compete with 5-star resorts. Here are a few examples that really stand out in my memory:
- At the Hampton Inn in Freeport Maine, I had gotten into the routine of leaving my laundry and luggage there over the weekend. Not only did the front desk hang my clothes prior to my arrival, but after getting to know me, started unpacking so when I arrived, my room was all set.
- At the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, the breakfast crew got to know exactly what I wanted to the point where they would recommend new menu items and other restaurants in the area. This grew to recommended weekend and evening activities which became a game among the staff to see whose advice I’d follow.
- In the Beijing first class lounge for Air China, after I’d missed the boarding announcement (in Chinese) the staff I’d been speaking to earlier recognized that I missed the announcement and arranged for a private car to drive me directly to the airplane before I’d even realized I missed the announcement. They even stopped the normal shuttle right before the plane so I could board first!
It’s this type of service that helped keep me sane when on 100% travel. I felt like I had a human connection and wasn’t just isolated to work and hotel without interacting with the world around me.