I had a wonderful conversation with a man on my flight to Europe recently. We started talking about where we were going and of course as you talk with fellow travelers the discussion almost always turns to where you have been and what you have encountered along the way.
The experience doesn't have to be extreme for you to develop an overall impression of the place you are visiting. It reminds me of the old adage - you only get one chance to make a good first impression. That is certainly true for the international travel and hospitality industry.
This man had traveled from Germany to the US to give a lecture at a medical conference that was being held at the hotel where he was staying. After arriving very late at night from his international flight he called room service to have a beer delivered to his room and was told he would have to wait over an hour. After almost 2 hours and still no drink he went downstairs and collected it himself. Just that one small request was all it took for this to be an unpleasant experience for him, so much so that he does not stay with that particular hotel brand when he travels and always shares that experience with other people he talks to.
Anyone who travels on a regular basis knows that it is the little things that can really make a difference - for me it is having food and drink available at off hours. There isn't anything better than arriving after a long flight and checking into my room to find 2 bottles of water with a lovely assortment of candy, nuts and sometimes even cheese and fruit. If there is a mini bar or drinks available that is fantastic. It really sets the tone for my trip be it business or pleasure.
While I understand and truly appreciate getting "special" treatment for being a member of loyalty programs it is even more important to see what effort you make when I am just the average paying customer. If I can get something to drink and a snack before I go to sleep chances are I'll stay with you again and again.