Sunday night. Already dark and gloomy an evening as autumn is closing on Paris too. Waiting for my Eurostar back to London, I suddenly started to watch the waiting crowd through strange lenses. Just one thought came up: “human kind is a very strange breed of animal!” … and I already hear what you’re starting to think, but indeed look around as if you had just landed on this Planet and you’ll see different.

In order to help you, let me develop a little story I love about our friends from a neighbouring sister hotel. As we’ve just had our Easter egg hunt with the Camdeners, our GM asked me if we were planning one for the management team coming on an inspirational trip to our shores (their property is a couple of miles away!). I was not to be honest, but it triggered my mind into doing a little test: should they succeed, then they would be competition, a healthy one.

There we went and stuck Easter eggs all over their boardroom, under each chair, in many pleats of table skirtings and, just to make sure we gave a hint, we placed a handful of them also randomly in their cups, between tea bags … on their buffet. Since they came to get a feel of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it (whether on internal score or Trip Advisor), we assumed they would be on the look for ‘specials’ … aware.

Cups were used, a very few eggs found … but not a word. Actually, they hadn’t sussed anything out, even the fact that Easter was around the corner didn’t induce any reaction or discussion. It is only when they broke out that I managed to inform their Hotel Manager about the friendly set up (with a timid reception to my surprise). I mentioned eggs under their chairs … and these are the only ones they went for!

So here we are again, even being made aware didn’t open their minds to something bigger, a little game they could have bounced off with (a little funny note replacing the eggs maybe?) … something WE wouldn’t have planned. We love the surprise!

In the end, you may have come to the same conclusion than we unfortunately have. How could we get better, more creative, a little more risky? … a little bolder maybe? How, if we cannot benchmark and positively compete with each other. Do brands always have to mean bland? While we sometimes feel we stretch our Brand, we are in fact applying its ethos and follow programs to the letter (Service Profit Chain, postmodern principals, informal professionalism …). So where is the constructive criticism, the conversation, which we all need so dearly?


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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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