[Cache – #123]
It was at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto that I learned one of my most important lessons of branding: Every time you come into contact with a customer, you either create or destroy brand equity.
In the first several weeks of my tenure there, I did my fair share of destruction – by directing gentlemen guests to the men’s room at the east end of the lobby, forgetting that in a quirk of layout, there is a ladies room – but not a men’s – at the east end of the lobby. Or by sending people to the wrong elevator to get to the Health Club. That sort of thing.
Fortunately, I had the better part of three years to raise my hospitality skills to the level of what shortly thereafter became the Fairmont Mission: Turning moments into memories for our guests.
It’s a stellar mission (defined as What we do every day to achieve our vision) on a number of levels. First, it recognizes that every touchpoint – every single moment – really does matter, and that every employee has the power to add to or detract from that moment. In so doing, the mission bonds every employee to the commitment of being vigilant at all times to the quality of the guest experience.
The simplicity of this concept fulfills what should be a critical goal of every mission statement: that it’s very easy for employees to understand and carry out. The question every organization must ask is: If the entire staff was at home sick one day, and the only person who came in was a new hire on her first day, would she be able to read the mission statement on the wall and do something value-adding? If the answer is no, then the mission statement is of highly questionable value.
Next, the mission of turning moments into memories is well-supported by the brand’s philosophy, which is to provide “experiences that are authentically local, in hotels and resorts of unrivalled presence, with service that is truly engaging.” Deliver on these three pillars, and you indeed have a shot at turning moments into memories.
Perhaps most important, Fairmont’s mission recognizes that a luxury hotel stay succeeds or fails on the back of the guest experience, which is determined principally by the quality of guest service. Being recognized as special and important is so important to us as human beings that great service will always trump any other aspect of a hotel stay.
A beautiful room, stunning beach or spectacular meal can be deeply appreciated, but none of it can outweigh the feeling of not being cared about. The most striking example of this comes from the mouths not of Fairmont guests but of Four Seasons’: they don’t talk mainly about their hotel room or the property’s location, but of the incredible service they received from staff.
And finally, Turning moments into memories for our guests serves not just an external purpose, but a vital internal one: it is a challenge to all Fairmont management to make the experience of working at the company highly positive. If staff are to deliver such a high level of service every day, they must be supported with a stellar work environment – or you can forget about those memorable moments.
BOOK: Brand: It Ain’t the Logo is now available at all TARGET stores in Canada.
NEW: interview on CBC Radio One about unhappiness with Microsoft Windows 8
TV: BNN interview re. Lance Armstrong’s brand (starts at the 3:30 mark, after the ad)