World Wise

The Per­sonal Touch – You’ll know it when you see it

Business Traveler (USA) - - CONTENTS - By Ross Atkin­son

Much like a fine wine, great art and even luxury travel, the right level of ser­vice is hard to de­fine. Even dis­cern­ing trav­el­ers all have vary­ing def­i­ni­tions of what they con­sider to be The Per­sonal Touch. Case in point: I queried one rep­utable ho­tel re­view site, and found over 107,000 re­views with the words“Per­sonal Touch” just in the ti­tle of the re­view alone.

Un­der­stand­ably not ev­ery­one trav­el­ing for busi­ness has the same be­hav­ior, stan­dards, or ex­pec­ta­tions as those trav­el­ing for leisure, or even those trav­el­ing for both. So how do we find the Wow fac­tor in travel that raises the bar and puts a smile on our face? Those touches that that make us want to write to the boss of that per­son who went out of their way to make our flight, our stay, our ex­pe­ri­ence, edge over – if not leap out­right – into the Wow cat­e­gory?

The Hu­man El­e­ment

For some, an­tic­i­pat­ing an­other’s next step or pos­si­ble need is an in­nate skill. For oth­ers, it means set­ting up a team play so the Per­sonal Touch takes the trav­eler by sur­prise.

On a re­cent visit to a Chicago bou­tique ho­tel just off of the Mag­nif­i­cent Mile, I was met by a bell­hop who swiftly took my lug­gage. I walked to the front desk to be greeted by the host by name. Not an un­com­fort­able feel­ing but one of great warmth and hos­pi­tal­ity. It was as if they were ex­pect­ing me and only me that day. What truly hap­pened, in the brief mo­ment while I was set­tling with the driver, un­be­knownst to me the bell­man read my lug­gage tag and no­ti­fied the re­ceiv­ing host at the front desk. Not even all that tricky, but the per­sonal greet­ing el­e­vated that touch and many more from that prop­erty to a sta­tus of fa­vorite to this day.

Can a brand it­self re­ally come to be known as one that con­sis­tently de­liv­ers that in­di­vid­ual per­sonal touch? With the in­creased vol­umes of ho­tels and flights around the globe, some would ar­gue that this is a tall or­der. How­ever, I am a firm be­liever it can. There are al­ready sev­eral brands out there that have cul­ti­vated that rep­u­ta­tion. Rain or shine, room or gloom, you feel like you’re a guest who is wel­comed and cared for as an in­di­vid­ual with the at­ten­tion on you and you alone.

The Vir­tual Back­bone

And it’s no longer just travel brands who are de­liv­er­ing on the Per­sonal Touch. A num­ber of en­ablers have popped up who fo­cus on your needs from door-to-door, while also tak­ing care of the of­fice and home while you’re on the road. If you don’t have an ex­ec­u­tive ad­min, th­ese new ser­vices – fre­quently re­ferred to as ded­i­cated vir­tual as­sis­tants – are crop­ping up all over. I’m talk­ing about highly ed­u­cated pro­fes­sional in­di­vid­u­als who pro­vide very spe­cific ser­vices to those of us on the go.

The vir­tual as­sis­tant is a pro­duc­tiv­ity booster. Of­ten times we can’t even guess how wrong things could have gone, had we not had the eyes and ears of that per­son be­hind the scenes. From send­ing flow­ers, to proac­tively chang­ing meet­ing plans to get you home early, their Per­sonal Touch is sub­tly ev­i­dent, be­com­ing part of the back­bone to your life.

The dig­i­tal age has brought some level of touch to our pock­ets. I’m not sure I could call it per­sonal, ex­cept it is a voice from our phones that most of us have con­fig­ured to have a spe­cific and ap­peal­ing ac­cent while as­sist­ing us in our day-to-day. We some­times feel at­tached or even de­pen­dent on th­ese apps as we have con­vinced our­selves that they are an­tic­i­pat­ing our needs and pro­vid­ing guid­ance to avoid mis­steps.

From send­ing e-mails, up­com­ing meet­ing re­minders, di­rec­tions, rec­om­men­da­tions or even din­ner reser­va­tions, sev­eral of th­ese om­nipresent Star Trek-like pocket pal ap­pli­ca­tions such as Siri, Speak­toit, Google Now or 24Me, keep us mov­ing from gate-to­gate or meet­ing-to-meet­ing. The tech­nol­ogy is cer­tainly gee-whiz, but is it a per­sonal touch? Well, it is a touch and it does in­crease our pro­duc­tiv­ity – so let’s just leave it at that.

Whether it is a per­son stand­ing in front of us, some­one be­hind the scenes or even that crutch we call our phone, we might not be able to put our fin­ger on ex­actly what it is or how to de­fine it, but It is some­thing we all love to ap­pre­ci­ate. So the next time you feel you’ve teetered on the edge of Wow, be sure to thank that per­son for hav­ing de­liv­ered his or her Per­sonal Touch. BT

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