#Luxury Venues require Luxury Customer Service

May 03 2017

I have had the pleasure of working with some luxury service organizations over my career as well as frequent them as a paying customer. There is an art to a certain type of communication that is pervasive in the most successful businesses. Whether it’s a spa, a luxury hotel, a fine dining establishment, or even a gym–your services are wanted but not necessarily needed. They are a “nice to have option” –sometimes for the wealthy–or, like me–the working girl who puts away money in a rainy day fund for such occasions. Recently, I went on a girls trip to DC and stayed one night in the Trump Hotel (the old U.S. Post Office) and one night at the historic Hay Adams hotel. Both very high end and pricey (3 of us split the cost of 1 room). The trip was planned in advance so we got decently priced airfare on a non-stop from Memphis to DC.

Today I went to the gym–an “Anytime Fitness” near my house that we have used for years. It’s not really “luxury” but we do pay for it monthly and our whole family uses it. It is not a “must have” venue as I could easily workout at home if I wanted or in my neighborhood or a public park nearby. When I entered the gym, someone who works there said, “Haven’t seen you in a bit….” Hmmm. Got me thinking!

It does not matter if you own or run the Trump Hotel, a day spa or a gym: What you say to your customers and how you treat them is critical. I have worked for many people in the “service” business and have been amazed at the missed opportunities to make someone’s visit really special. Here are some pointers:

  • When someone walks into your gym–instead of pointing out that you haven’t been there of late–(Do  I look fat? What does that mean? Are you counting?…) you might should tell them you are happy to see them and to have a great workout. Also, I don’t know about you but when I get to the gym, I’m usually there on a schedule and I don’t want to chat to people there. Be considerate of their time and perhaps consider that they go to the gym to get AWAY from people (and talking) to have some personal time. I also don’t like talking to other patrons at the gym. Thankfully headphones have helped deter the chatty-gymrats from approaching people.
  • Customers are parting with precious, hard-earned dollars to come to your venue. How you greet them will set the tone and expectation for the experience. At the Trump Hotel we were literally not allowed to touch our bags as the doormen and hotel staff joked that it was their job to take care of us. I felt like they treated everyone like a queen or king. Across the board the service was so good that I would go back and say it’s worth the cost. The same goes with The Hay Adams Hotel.  And be sure to tip those people well while you are there, too.
  • To waiters and servers in restaurants: Please ask if I want my tea glass or wine glass refilled. I don’t like large pours of chilled wine because it gets hot faster and I would rather pour it when I want it. I was in one place recently where the waiter told us to put our menu in a chair once we were ready to order to signal her so she didn’t interrupt our business. Great server!
  • If you are a spa our massage therapy venue, please refrain from talking to your patrons while they are getting their treatment unless they initiate a conversation or want one. I have a massage therapist that I see less frequently than my gynecologist (THAT needs to change) and he is fantastic. He is quiet and only talks to me if I ask him something. It is a precious and much needed hour of total solitude, and I do believe in the health benefits of massage therapy.
  • If you are a luxury car dealer, you know how your customers like to be treated–especially when there is a problem or service issue. My car dealer (Lexus of Memphis) knows how to treat customers. I can brag on them if I want to because this is my blog and they have been clients and friends for years. They hold Saturday workshops for their new car owners and go above and beyond to serve their customers–most of whom are lifelong ones. One day I was in a meeting at Lexus and the service manager had to leave our meeting to go personally pick up a customer’s car that was somewhere in Arkansas. He dropped everything and took care of it. That’s what keeps buyers coming back to Lexus. Great product and maybe even greater service. That is truthfully why I will likely always drive a Lexus–even if I have a previously owned or used one….the service is worth it.

Customers have lots of choices where to spend their money. I think service can make or break any organization especially when the cost of that service classifies it as “luxury.” I have never taken any hotel management training but I have known people in the hotel industry who talk about the intense training the staff go through in attempts to earn the top “star ratings.” With yelp, trip advisor and social media sites, most luxury businesses cannot afford to be off their game and my guess is that most are not.