COMMENT: What makes travel and hotel stays memorable – the kindness of people
My current favourite hotel in Adelaide is the EOS at the Adelaide Skycity Casino. I like it for its location (despite being attached to a casino), its contemporary design, excellent service, and the great rates they give me. Having said that, acquaintances of mine with worldwide premium hotel experience had an awful experience at this very same hotel earlier this year. It just demonstrates that one unsuccessful touchpoint can jeopardise a reputation.
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Back to me. On arrival this stay, there was a beautiful tray of macaroons filled with passionfruit and citrus flavours waiting in my room. Just what I needed after a good meal on my points-upgraded Qantas business class evening flight. I munched on them as I unpacked and caught Media Watch and the late evening ABC TV news.
Those macaroons came with a lovely note from a staff member who used to work at another hotel in Adelaide. We bonded at that other hotel, where she had kindly upgraded us and had a beautiful vase of flowers sent to our room during a stay to attend my late mother’s funeral. It was an extremely kind and sensitive act at a very emotional and stressful time.
This time, the hotel had no reason to know that I was attending another distressing and untimely funeral, that of the adult child of a long-term friend. Four macaroons masked my grief for a half hour.
A good red
This reminds me of a half-empty Qantas flight I took just before the pandemic when my mother was gravely ill. Seated in row 4 – just beyond Business Class on this late evening flight, the purser came up to me, addressed me by name, and said he had just opened a bottle of a rather good shiraz up in Business Class, given it would only go to waste, would I like a glass? Still in a state of high anxiety, having only received the news about my mother’s health about 4 hours earlier, a calming alcoholic beverage was exactly what I craved. Another act of kindness by service staff that deeply affected me. Much more deeply than the staff member could know.
The aviation industry has a difficult road ahead when it comes to sustainability. It’s going to require a relative revolution in technology, with ‘electric planes’ or hydrogen planes, or some form of jet engine that doesn’t require a carbon based fuel. And that is going to require the development of an alternative to jet engines probably.
It’s a big ask. It will take time to develop.
This move to home grown and manufactured SAF is a first step – maybe even a baby step in a very long road of innovation. In the long run, US$200 million won’t even touch the sides.
My point is service staff cannot always know the emotional state you are in, the circumstances around the customers’ stay, or their passengers’ travel situation. Into this great unknown goes their act of kindness, which unknowingly can be a salve to the recipient’s distress.
In my example, these acts were gratefully received, but that’s not always the case. An equally innocent act can cause distress – like the social media phenomenon of Zakir Slaimankhel‘s child’s pram not being loaded onto a Qantas flight from Bali, causing a flight delay, passenger exclusion, and accusations of racism.
What did you say?