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Conversations with… a guest

Conversations with… a guest

Early in my career, I learned to avoid asking guests questions that could result in ?yes, no? or ?fine? answers, and instead open with questions like, ?What brings you to New York?? Most often, the answers prompt an opportunity to offer additional services that help make a stay more rewarding.

As a front office manager at The Benjamin in 2001, I met a guest who was waiting for his wife in the lobby and, of course, asked, ?What brings you to New York this week?? The answer was one I never expected.

This couple came to New York for a long weekend to clear their minds before their four-year-old son, Benjamin, began a lengthy series of treatments for leukemia. Our location was ideal and he told me that since the name of our hotel coincided with the name of their son, he thought it would be good Karma.

I sent the couple home with everything possible with the name Benjamin on it, from our signature stuffed teddy bear to any and all logoed materials and collateral, and took photos of them in front of our sign.

This past summer, I received an email from those same guests who were planning to come back to New York for a week-long vacation “with” their son, Benjamin. This time, it was to be a celebratory trip as Benjamin had just reached the fifth year of being leukemia-free. They would stay nowhere else, writing, ??first, due to such fond memories and, second, because our Benjamin has imagined what it is like for so many years now.”

And so, after nine years, I had the great pleasure of meeting Benjamin, now 13 years old, with fire engine red hair wearing a soccer jersey, healthy as can be. As he thanked me for the teddy bear, he let me know he still had it.

It is an amazing feeling to know that we could make that type of impression on guests with a simple gesture. The lesson stuck, and I train all our staff to engage guests with a question that forces them to answer thoughtfully.  Time after time, they open many more opportunities to provide memorable service and cherished experiences.

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