business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

There was a cool story in USA Today the other day about hotels that are offering new and unusual services as a way of attracting new customers who “seek to stay physically - and mentally - balanced on the road.” Call it continuing education served up hotel-style, with a number of companies expanding the notion of what an overnight stay can be.

For example, the story says:

• “At the James hotels in New York and Chicago, each room is equipped with all the supplies needed to make cocktails, including recipes. Guests can arrange for a bartender to conduct a private mixology lesson.”

• “At the Swissotel Chicago, guests soon will be able to sign up for free self-defense classes taught by the hotel's sous chef, a trained instructor. Chess classes will also be available.”

• “The Kensington Hotel, a Doyle Collection property in London, has started one-hour complimentary ‘Petite Etiquette’ classes for children from ages 5 to 10. Kids are taught basic table manners so that parents can feel comfortable taking them out to dinner.”

• “The Omphoy Ocean Resort in Palm Beach, Fla., this summer will launch a ‘Surf Goddess’ program that will include surfing lessons with overnight accommodations.”

What makes this interesting - and relevant - to other kinds of businesses is the central premise: that the basic elements of a hotel stay (a room, shower, food and beverages) can be pretty much replicated by anyone. And so, hotels are seeking differential advantages that will serve as distinguishing characteristics, creating interest and hopefully nurturing loyalty among their customers.

That’s the Eye-Opening lesson - that businesses need to go outside their comfort zones to find unusual and yet compelling ways to attract and keep their customers. And it is part of the ongoing and evolving continuing education of the modern retailer.
KC's View: