Life can be full of (pleasant) surprises

By Terence Ronson - Hospitality Professional, Technology Consultant, Public Speaker and Inventor

9 May 2011

The Hotel business never ceases to amaze me - especially when a property sets their mind and hearts into doing it right - instilling a great service culture into the operation. And no more obvious and pleasing is this, than when you encounter staff delivering service beyond ones normal expectations.

I hope you read an earlier BLOG of mine, when I wrote about the great Disney Institute course I attended (Delivering Quality Service), and how their philosophy is to create a series of little WOWs, rather than just one big one - impressing their customers at different touch-points during exposure to the brand. How obviously simple and important I thought that was at the time, and wished the business would pick up and follow this great, yet modest philosophy.

Well let me tell you how delighted I was to experience such a Hotel when I recently stayed three nights at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS), Singapore, as part of my participation in the HICAP Conference (4-5 May).

I must preface this by saying - they knew I was coming - so it was not an entirely incognito stay - having said that, I really don't think, from a practicality point of view, that they went to the extent of circulating my photo and briefing every employee about me - unlike a certain Shanghai Hotel did on a re-visit. After all, MBS has 2,561 rooms and a suitably sized team to support this.

Yes, I got upgraded to a Suite complete with a spectacular City view, in addition to which it had many of the accouterments I have come to look for and enjoy like Bananas in the fruit basket, bottles of mineral water and a Nespresso machine. Thanks! But more importantly, it had a few extra niceties that I want to point out.

Firstly, the hairdryer was easy to find - it was attached to the wall next to the double vanity and not hidden like one often finds, and has to be hunted for. This is a pet peeve of my wife - who has been known to say to me on the rare occasions when we travel together on a trip, "I wonder where they have hidden the hairdryer this time?" There was a big shower cubicle - one in which I could easily spread my arms and turn around in - stepping out of the water spray to soap up, and then back into to rinse off. And, in one corner, an alcove with a built-in seat to either sit on, or lift ones leg/foot for ease of cleaning. But, the crème de la crème were the shower amenities where one could easily read the description of the contents without putting on ones glasses. GREAT!

Each day the room (OK Suite) was serviced, with the Room Attendant kindly and caringly taking time out to tidy up the wires/cables I left on the desk - neatly coiling them into little bundles. These were my iPod cable and the cable of the power adapter to my Notebook. Very Good!

I should also mention that the TV stayed on BBC when switched back on, rather than going again and again to the Hotels' promo splash page of their IPTV system. I know why we do that, but honestly, it can be annoying.

Then there was the fact that my Bathroom toiletries were also tidied up - placed in straight rows, and in descending height order - big at the back, and small at the front. And running perpendicular, was my razor. Nice!

Each evening at turn down, there was a different "turndown goodie" including Macaroons, local cakes and sweets, and some delicate chocolate cups filled with fresh fruits and berries. I had to exercise very strong willpower to avoid nibbling them all.

Outside of the room, I tried the Breakfast Buffet at the Roof Top Club Lounge - which if you have seen or know of the MBS is their pièce de résistance - complete with an infinity pool perched on top of the building spanning all three towers. Very good standard breakfast fare supplemented with many goodies to include Gravlax, assorted fresh berries, lots of fruits and nuts, and some very interesting jams and compotes.

Overall, I must say that the Staff were friendly and helpful with a few requiring a special mention:

Firstly there was Sebastian my Butler who upon coming to my room for collecting the luggage said, "Mr. Ronson I note you are returning on the xxth and can you please let me know your arrival time so I can make sure everything is ready for you." No one told him I was coming back - he had used initiative and flagged that himself.

Next was Andrew a Bellman from the Guest Services Dept. He saw me queuing up to check out - came over - made a small bow - and out of the blue offered his services with my luggage and a car to the airport (my luggage was in storage). I said thanks, but I was organized for these - and he proceeded to give me his name card offering any assistance I may need - and to just call him.

Lastly, there was Indah the Front Office Clerk - I believe that was her name - who firstly apologized for keeping me waiting to check-out (not so long maybe 5 minutes), and upon noticing I had dined at one of the restaurants in the adjacent Mall - Osteria Mozza, inquired as to whether I had enjoyed the meal. She said she had heard about the place and i think seen it on TV, but not yet had the chance to visit and was curious how it was. She sounded genuine (rather than mechanical) in asking if I enjoyed my Hotel stay - and too also noticed I was shortly to return - saying she looks forward to welcoming me back.

In life, it's definately the small things that count!

Photo Slideshow can be found here

Pertlink Limited commenced operations on October 23rd 2000, and as IT Consultants exclusively caters to clients connected with the hospitality industry, helping them work through the maze of new technologies. Not only is Pertlink strategically placed to serve the industry from its headquarters in Hong Kong, it has been internationally recognized by numerous organizations as a global reach company helping the industry through its unique and unparalleled network of people who have vast expertise in the Hotel and IT industries. The team behind Pertlink, whose collective knowledge will be an asset to any company - will help maximize a Hotel's guest experience making it a positive one through the way technology is developed, marketed and used in the Hotel industry.

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Pertlink Limited

2/f, 22 Stanley Mound Road
Stanley, Hong Kong (SAR)
Phone: +852 946 80848
Fax: +852 3010 0124

Terence Ronson

Terence Ronson is the Managing Director of Pertlink Limited. Now residing in Manila after almost two decades in Hong Kong, Terence launched his diversified hospitality career as a chef, later holding various general management positions with well-known hotels in the UK and Asia. In the mid-80s he developed his penchant for technology, and in 2000 started Pertlink Ltd., (Hong Kong) a hospitality technology consultancy, becoming as well the Technology Editor for HOTELS Asia Pacific and authoring since then numerous industry-related articles. In 2001, CNN's eBizasia program featured him for his innovative work at Rosedale on the Park Hong Kong, the first cyber boutique Hotel. It was at that point he originated the first hotel app – HOTELINMYHAND. Terence also helped Langham Place Hong Kong win many accolades for its technology deployment as well as various other well-known hotels across Southeast Asia. In China, Terence was heavily involved in establishing and delivering the IT strategy for Jumeirah Himalayas (Shanghai), Puli (Shanghai), Sofitel Wanda (Beijing), and Guoman (Shanghai). He also participated in the development of the technology vision for Disney Shanghai and Tangula Luxury Train. Terence often chairs and speaks at global industry events and sits on various advisory boards, in addition to holding a Visiting Lecturer position at Hong Kong Polytechnic. He is a CHTP (Certified Hospitality Technology Professional) and runs an active hotel technology blog.

Terence Ronson

Managing Director