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