Though I checked out of The Statler Hotel at Cornell University yesterday, the warm feeling of hospitality still remains. Why, you ask? It’s not that the hotel features the best furnishings or that it’s located in the most exotic setting. Heck, my room didn’t even have a flat-screen TV. No, that feeling stems from exemplary service, plain and simple.
What’s most interesting about the experience is that service is a primarily student-run initiative. The hotel is physically connected to Statler Hall, which houses Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, and serves as a training ground for the hospitality leaders of tomorrow.
That obviously gives the property some operational advantages. For one, the students work for free. Second, they’re incredibly ambitious and dedicated to their work.
Those advantages in and of themselves are enough to ensure a positive guest experience, but the hotel’s bright-eyed associates don’t stop there. They employed a number of no-cost tactics that made the stay one of the most memorable I’ve had in the past year. Here are five examples:
1. Personal concierge. About a week before I checked in, I received a cheery e-mail introducing me to Hailey, my personal concierge. She later called asking if I required any special accommodations before my arrival and even arranged for transportation from the airport. Though our total interactions amounted to less than five minutes, the attention made me feel like a VIP guest before I even walked in the door.
2. Where everybody knew my name. When I arrived, I immediately noticed something eerie: The staff was addressing me personally by name. “Good evening, Mr. Mayock.” “Can I get you anything, Mr. Mayock?” “We hope you enjoy your stay, Mr. Mayock.” Yes, this one probably required a bit of on-site shuffling to identify me as I checked in, but the effect was intimate and flattering—and something I won’t forget soon.
3. A call to satisfaction. Five minutes after I first arrived in my room, an associate from the front desk called to make sure my accommodations were satisfactory. The conversation took 20 seconds, but it set the tone for the entire weekend.
4. Smile! The simplest tactic of all—every associate was grinning from ear to ear. Even if they weren’t all sincere, they were certainly contagious. I found myself smiling a lot more than usual during my visit.
5. Ending on a positive note. The night before I checked out, an associate delivered a hand-written note to my room. It was Hailey, my personal concierge, thanking me for my business and inviting me back again in the future. With service like this, she can count on it.