Friday, March 18, 2022

So Much More than Good Customer Service

In the late 90's and early 2000's, my parents would accompany Keith and I on anniverary trips. As odd as that may sound, it was fun to have them along. Because the trips always fell in January, it was difficult to find somewhere non-beachy that had decent weather. Most of the time, we would go to the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama. As an event planner, I also had the privilege of hosting many conferences at the Grand so I had become very familiar with the property. The Grand Hotel was once a civil war hospital and sits perched on the shores of Mobile Bay like a grand dame -- with twisted, moss-covered live oaks adorning her like strands of beautiful necklaces.

A favorite spot, especially for my mother, was the main lobby with its unique wagonwheel-shaped ceiling and stacked-stone fireplace. Here, my Mom would claim a big comfy chair and settle in with a good book and a bag of Skittles. This was a common thread among the many trips and has become my most vivid memory of this property.

In 2003, my Mom passed away from an 8-month battle with cancer. Naturally, it was pretty tough for me to visit the hotel 6 months after her passing since every nook and cranny seemed to whisper my mother's name. As I checked into my room, I couldn't help but notice a huge package on the bed wrapped in brown craft paper. I opened the card and this is what it said, "We know how much the Grand meant to you and especially your Mom. We're so sorry for your loss. We recently renovated the main building and researched the last room your mother stayed in. This painting (a watercolor of Julep Point-- a noteable spot on the property) hung above the bed in the last room your mother stayed in. We'd like for you to have it." Tears filled my eyes and I was overwhelmed with gratitude at the thoughtfulness of the gift. It truly was a priceless piece of art.

Well, it's been 19 years since my Mom died and I hosted my first event since that day just last week. I had shared the touching story with current sales manager and she, too, was blown away. But, of course, she had her own way of honoring those memories. At our pre-conference meeting, she presented me with a coffee table book about the Grand. It was wrapped in a ribbon and, you guessed it, a bag of Skittles. Once again, tears filled my eyes at the sheer thoughtfulness of the gesture.

You see I am a customer service fanatic. I teach classes on the subject. But the way that the team at the Grand Hotel worked to personalize my experience while honoring my Mom was so much more than good customer service. It's an example of the lost art of being human. Of seeing me as more than just a client but a person that was able to take a much-needed trip down memory lane instead of just hosting a business meeting. And that is what makes them a very Grand Hotel indeed.

Now if I could put my hands on those Skittles...


Unknown said...

What a beautiful story about The Grand and their hospitality. I love that place! It is by far my favorite hotel. It sits on the point making it's statement of history and service. Bucky's usually has great piano players too which is a nice way to end the day. Judy Mc

Unknown said...

What a beautiful story! This is truly the best customer service! You made my eyes leak!