I said if I were ever going to write a book, I would title it “Sweat the Small Stuff.” This is, of course, a play on words, referencing the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all Small Stuff” by author Richard Carlson. Released in 1997, it was a runaway hit spending two years as USA Today’s bestselling book, a record that stands today. His book, along with the many others he penned, centered on happiness and stress reduction, something I think most everyone needs in greater supply. Yours truly especially.
But my fictitious book, “Sweat the Small Stuff,” would be all about luxury and boutique hotels. As hospitality professionals, we’re in the happiness business. Most people are given two weeks of vacation each year, and you can almost see a woman in front of her calendar, slowly marking off the days until, at last, she comes to the day with the palm tree circled around it! She and her husband are off, and from the moment they walk into a hotel, they’ve trusted that General Manger and his or her staff to make this ever-so-precious time special.
This is an awesome responsibility.
I’m not talking about the normal things you’d expect, like being greeted properly upon check-in, the room being spotless, and service being polite and timely. No, what I’m talking about are those things – those teeny, tiny details – that make a stay absolutely unforgettable.
Sweat the Small Stuff – Example #1
I had a recent birthday, and my family celebrated with me in downtown Indianapolis at The Conrad. This hotel’s de facto restaurant and bar is The Capital Grille, one of my favorite in the city. We came down for breakfast and, upon arriving, I excused myself to the men’s room briefly and, upon my return, I found the following card waiting for me.
That’s sweating the small stuff.
It didn’t simply say “Happy Birthday, Derek!” It had a heartfelt, genuine message written by our gracious waiter and signed by the rest of the staff. This could only come from someone who feels compelled to serve. It came from someone who has hospitality coursing through his veins instead of blood. He is in the happiness business.
Sweat the Small Stuff – Example #2
Since November of 2015, Sam Murphy has been the Assistant Front Office Manager at The Beverly Hills Hotel. Just prior to that, he served as the Guest Relations Supervisor. I’ve never met Sam, never talked to him, but simply looking at his LinkedIn profile tells me he’s a details man.
His summary reads as follows:
As a young man I had successful careers as a ballet dancer and as an actor. Being a ballet dancer taught me how discipline, repetition, and coordination can make something complicated appear effortless. As an actor I learned how to improvise when things go wrong, the stakes are high, and everyone is watching. My goal is to use my professional experience and education to positively influence the success of others at The Beverly Hills Hotel.
Leading Quality Assurance (LQA) is a hotel auditing firm. Not to over complicate things, but they provide a secret shopping service to make certain everyone at a property is on point and executing the standards expected of them. Sam at The Beverly Hills Hotel, with humility, shared the following:
I received a perfect score for emotional intelligence and I was flattered to learn that the letter I wrote to the guest prior to surgery has since been incorporated into the LQA training syllabus.
Emotional intelligence is what allows someone to anticipate the needs of others before they know what they want themselves. It’s being attuned to what may appear as a passing comment from a guest, but you know how painful, how wonderful, how heartwarming or heartbreaking whatever that is for someone. From there, you acknowledge it in a most unexpected and sincere way. That’s what I’m talking about when I say details.
Do you sweat the small stuff? Does your staff sweat the small stuff? Does everyone feel encouraged and empowered to sweat the small stuff?
I know plenty of hotels with diamonds and stars where I’ve stayed and been wholly unimpressed. Sure, they checked all the boxes to keep the plaques on the wall behind the check-in desk, but that was it.
The places I remember sweat the small stuff, and it’s those places that make me want to return again and again.