Nienke's five-star hotel experience

For my 50th birthday, I booked a room for two nights at the Waldorf Astoria in Rome. Because I wanted to treat myself, but also because I wanted to make my 50th birthday a special experience. It is a very large hotel, so I had even given myself an upgrade to the Imperial Floor. Bigger rooms, a special lounge with drinks and snacks, but also - I thought - more personal attention.

Was it a fancy hotel? YES.

Did it have a great spa? YES.

Did it have a great outdoor swimming pool with fluffy towels? YES.

Did it have an outstanding breakfast? YES.

Product wise, it was all very good.

But did the hotel pay any personal attention to my 50th birthday? NO.

It was a disappointment. One of my friends from the Netherlands had arranged for a bottle of prosecco, a box of chocolates and a personal note to be delivered to my room on my last night as a 49-year-old. I also mentioned my birthday in the lounge (because I know that most CRM systems fail). But on the morning of my 50th birthday, there was nothing from the hotel to congratulate me. Not in my room, not at breakfast, not in the lounge, not at check-out. Nothing at all. Even though they could have known....

I started wondering. Did five-star luxury hotels become commodity? I don't know, but I do know that if you are a luxury brand that promises a certain level of personal service, this is a big failure. I also shared this story on Linkedin, where many agreed that the hotel missed the mark. But also, some mentioned a possible culture gap. Probably true for Italian birthdays, but the guests at the Waldorf (that I saw) were mostly Americans or English-speaking guests. And I know how important birthdays are for American guests! Even more than for me as a Dutchy.

The interesting thing was that when I checked out, the employee asked if my stay had been pleasant. And it had been, so I indicated that too. This is also where they fell short in asking for feedback. (Be sure to read the CX lens blog where I share my suggestion for them!) And... I didn't receive a survey. So the Waldorf staff can only read about my experience on LinkedIn now (or in this blog).

Why did I post this on LinkedIn? Not because I wanted to get this solved. Because if I had wanted to, I would have called the hotel, or sent a 'complaint'. No, it's more a question for us as CX professionals. What do you do with these special days? Especially in leisure industry. Or was I, as a guest, expecting too much? I posted this message to share, to learn and to get the conversation going.

So, go over to the next blog, to see the point of view from a CX professional lens!