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It was his birthday. Michael Hoffman was on the road, again, alone, as usual. Michael had walked into yet another chain hotel and once again in spite of all the promises made by a marketing budget in the millions they still hadn’t figured how to get a guest room ready on time. But at least they had managed to be friendly when they suggested that that he might enjoy waiting for the next 90 minutes in the lobby.
At first glance the small gift shop snugged against a corridor wall didn’t show any more signs of life than did the lobby. But with 89 minutes to go it might be good for killing at least a small part of a long afternoon.
Michael browsed his way into the shop and knew in an instant that at best he was about to see a selection of “the usual” hotel gift shop inventory: antacids, Tylenol, novels, you know, no surprises.
From behind the counter a young lady stood watching as Michael scooped up an over-priced bottle of spring water before sauntering to the cash register. No doubt the fact that Michael was not having a day befitting a birthday must have been written on his face.
“Hello,” smiled the diminutive woman. “Can I buy you a drink?” (How’s that for an interesting approach?)
“What brings you to our part of the world?” She continued. Finally, Michael took the bait and replied.
“I can’t check in. They’re making me wait. It’s my birthday, I’m grouchy. I want to go home.”
She said oh I’m sorry that’s not the experience we’re trying to create, but I’m glad you are here and by the way happy birthday. Let me buy you a drink! And with that she slid the bottle back across the counter.
“Happy birthday! On behalf of the hotel, all of us we’re sorry you have to wait. It does happen once in a while, but we would love to buy you a little birthday gift.”
Says Michael, “I stayed for another 15 minutes. We chatted and I had a great time. And I have to tell you that little gesture, that little fun encounter, that little out of the way outrageousness made my day!”
She took a moment that could be negative and turned it into a moment that I keep talking about. And that’s Positively Outrageous Service!
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