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Ever been truly delighted by an experience?

By September 19, 2022No Comments

Have you ever had a luxury hotel stay that really impressed you? Surprised you? Delighted you?

I just experienced all three at a recent stay at the Virgin Hotel in Nashville. I was there as the keynote speaker for Valerie Wilson Travel, and it was a privilege to be on the property and experience their hospitality and meet their senior leadership team. One of the many perks of being a keynote speaker for wonderful companies is that meeting planners spoil me with treats in my room on arrival. I love it—but never before have I seen this!

It started with the warm greeting from their General Manager Phil, “Welcome, Ms. James, we are so glad you are here. Can we offer you champagne?” Wait, how did they know I love champagne!?

Stepping into the Virgin Hotel Nashville is a delightful experience. Too often hotels feel the same; they look the same everywhere, and don’t represent the city they are in. But it’s clear that the Virgin Hotel Nashville, prides itself on localization — from the decor and art instillations (decorated by Johnny Cash’s daughter), to the supplier partners, food and beverage, and hiring local talent to perform — the whole property feels like Nashville.

Every detail and system of this property has been thought through carefully and is an extension of the Virgin Brand. The colors, the team uniforms, the funkiness, the ease, the cheeky nature of their founder, Sir Richard Branson. They have thought of everything from local coffee, yoga mats in your room, the coolest mini bar I have seen with a mini Smeg red fridge, fresh limes and lemons and a cutting board, flowers on the bathroom vanity, and even a cute toy in the shower that can be taken home your loved ones.

But the thing that made staff member Destin smile at my squeal of delight? As I entered the room I saw a record player spinning a Virgin 45 (some of you are too young to know what a 45 is, but some us remember going to the music store to buy them!) — but not just any 45! It was officially the coolest hotel amenity ever — a multi-layered cookie! And not just any old cookie, the middle layer was liquid caramel (if you know me, you know caramel is my most fave thing and I often tell people that chocolate is often just a carrier for caramel), and the top layer was an edible record! A sweet handwritten note accompanied the edible treat from Phil and the Virgin Hotel team and a shot of espresso!

I was impressed.
It got my attention.

In our digital world, analog systems get our attention.
A handwritten note, a phone call, an edible 45, a birthday wish from a friend. Everything we listed above is what we call systemized thoughtfulness in our book Attention Pays. This hotel has a system to welcome guests in unique and fun ways that are aligned with their brand and the experience they want to create from the moment you arrive until you check out.

Paying attention costs you nothing — yet it is one of the best investments you can make.

What can you do to find unique ways to surprise and delight your clients, colleagues, and team?

5 Ideas to Surprise clients and colleagues

Handwritten notes

  • Set yourself a challenge to write one love note each day.
  • Send a card to a team member to thank them for their hard work.
  • Send a thank you note to a client for their business.
  • People value this personal touch and stand out in a world full of text messages and email.
  • Who needs a note from you today?

Make your experience tangible

  • Share something that allows your product to come to life.
  • Valerie Wilson Travel gifted their associates with lovely branded Yeti mugs that everyone will use.
  • We share Tiffany and Co gifts with our fabulous clients after a presentation.
  • What could you do?

Send subscription boxes

  • Stay top of mind with a subscription to their favorite magazine, fashion box, or treats for their cat (or dog).
  • There is a subscription box for everything!
  • Make it easy on yourself, and use a service that takes care of all the details for you.
  • Here are a few of our faves on Amazon.
  • Who could you thank with a subscription box?

Keep a supply of cards handy  

  • Stock up on cards to celebrate every occasion: birthday, wedding, communion, anniversary, graduation, new home, and a few extras for get well, sympathy, loss of a pet, or just thinking of you.
  • Next time you are at the card store or in your supermarket, grab a supply of cards so you always have them on hand. When you hear about something important to someone else, send them a card.
  • Who could you send a special card to today?

Bring treats  

  • Next time you are heading to a meeting, bring treats.
  • I once had a boss that randomly bought everyone a coffee (and she knew their order) and left it on their desk, so thoughtful.
  • I have taken champagne, donuts, ice cream (this one can be messy), cookies, fresh juice, custom chocolates — just a little something that says you were thinking of them. If you know their coffee or tea order, even better!
  • What treats could you bring for your team today?

Remember luxury isn’t about things; it’s about experiences. What experience do you want to share this month with people who are important to you?  

It’s never too late to pay attention to WHO and WHAT matters most. It’s easy to delight those around you with thoughtful little surprises.

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