The valet was at my door before I could turn off the engine. A young man greeted me and held the door open while I shuffled into the cozy lobby of the hotel. The fireplace was ablaze and already warming the backs of patrons lined up next to it. The staff was friendly and immaculately attired.
Every detail felt authentic even down to retro rotary phones and wooden chess sets available for play.
From the first interaction my expectations for the experience were set high. And yet that’s a challenge because even the smallest miscue is magnified.
This hotel could be considered a Seattle landmark. It jettisons out over the blue waters of Elliot Bay. One can watch cruise and cargo ships docking at the nearby piers. Ferries cross paths delivering their passengers to this area’s many islands. Seattle’s skyline as well as Alki beach are viewable in the distance. It’s a peaceful setting and the main reason travelers are willing to pay extra to stay here.
So when I waited to be seated at the only onsite restaurant, I assumed it would be at one of the tables situated near a window. Although several such tables were available, the hostess offered a larger table for four, far from the windows, yet inches from the Continental Breakfast.
I could and should have asked to be seated at a smaller table closer to the windows.
The point is this: I should not have to ask.
I didn’t come for the $4 orange juice or the $9 oatmeal. If a table near the windows are available why not seat me at one?
There’s a lesson here I can take to my team that provides high end technical services to Microsoft: Every interaction you have with a customer creates their expectations of what’s to follow. I expect clean restrooms at Nordstrom. I would expect the service department at Lexus to be orderly. I’ve come to regard the friendly Starbucks barista as an extension of that $5 mint chocolate chip cream frappuccino.
I went back to the restaurant for lunch and was greeted by another hostess who happened to be my server. The dining area was crowded. As she grabbed a menu and asked me to follow, I thought to myself, “please don’t seat me at the same table”.
She didn’t. And I’ll return.