Creating signature guest experience moments requires a certain ingenuity, and in the current competitive market, hoteliers are called upon to choreograph their resources and services in a way that personalizes novelty, engages their guests, and establishes a deep connection to their brand.
This is done through Extraordinary Personally Scripted Hospitality Stories.
Narratives are powerful in moving, inspiring, and orchestrating emotional connections that make a person feel unique and define the connection between the most top-tier hotels and their guests. Today, more and more hotels tailor their hospitality strategies towards the adoption of an experiential orientation through stories. They script unique, extraordinary narratives and stage experiences, individually customized and personally meaningful for each guest persona.
We see that even the amenities of the luxury suites become experiential, namely intangible, immaterial values: the personal pianist in the Royal Suite at The Goring Hotel, London, the Genealogist at Trump International Golf Links & Hotel, Ireland, the surf butler at St. Regis Monarch Beach, private ski lessons with triple Olympic medalist Florence Masnada at L’ Apogee Courchevel,France etc.
Moreover, in hotels we sell experiences. Selling an experience means creating a memory, a narratable memory, namely a story.
The following is a signature story that I orchestrated.
The story of, a guest of The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort, Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Linear B clay plates of the 12th century B.C.
Immersed in the cultural heritage of Messinia, from my role as Concierge at The Romanos, I learned in summer 2015 the history and the evolutionary path of the Greek alphabet, entranced by the fact that the first writing system of Europe was the Linear B, which was deciphered in Messinia, Greece, and Nestor’s palace (the king of Ancient Pylos).
This emotional souvenir I gave as a gift to one of my clients.
It was mid-July when I met Mrs. X, a very chic and enlightened lady. I recommended several dining options to her and every night she would come to my desk and warmheartedly thank me, describing in detail her evening.
As her stay neared to an end, I decided to give her a very special gift: her name written in the most primeval Greek writing system, and, the very first writing system of Europe.
The last day before Mrs. X left for Paris, I sent a storytelling note to her room and told her that my job at The Romanos is my first occupational position and that her gesture to thank me every night was the kindest reward.
So, I wrote to her the story of the Linear B.
The story begins in 1450 BC in the Palace of Nestor (20 minutes from the resort), where its ancient inhabitants carved their economic data on clay tablets in the ancient language of Messinia, the Linear B. The Palace of Nestor was, then, the administrative center of the region, so housed the financial records of the State on papyrus, clay tablets, etc. The clay tablets had incised on their surface the financial data of each year, detailing, for example how much oil was produced that year, the salary of the woman laborers etc. The plates had a one year lifespan, and after that period were destroyed and converted into raw material so that new tablets could be made. The official papers were the scrolls.
Nestor’s Palace was destroyed by a fire that broke out in the kitchen, and the scrolls were destroyed, however, the clay tablets were baked by the fire and became harder so preserving them until archaeologists, thousands of years later, discovered them. In this way, Linear B was decoded, with assistance from other archaeological sources from other parts of Greece.
Knowing this story with its great cultural significance, I wrote Mrs. X’s name with syllabic signs in Linear B, her small indigenous cultural gift.
The next day Mrs. X came and found me to express her appreciation and to tell me how special I had made her feel. She told me to take care of myself, held my hands in her hands, and told me that she would return to see me again the next summer.
…and Mrs. X left something of herself in Greece and Messinia, a very ancient story made from 1450 BC for her.
Such a signature story draws on resources of improvisation, eventfulness, locality, personalization, and culturalization, that emotionalize the guest’s experience in an extraordinary way.
Aaker, General Atlantic Professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, proposes that: “everyone needs a signature story”.
“A signature story is a story that you‘ve told over and over again most likely. It’s a story that when you share it, others look at you slightly differently and it’s a story that moves you closer to the goals that you might hold” (Jennifer Aaker: Harnessing the Power of Stories 2013).
This is identical to what Joe Pine, Management advisor, speaker, and author: The Experience Economy, Infinite Possibility, Authenticity, and Mass Customization, posits: “After the Experience Economy, I look forward to the Transformation Economy where companies guide people/businesses in achieving aspirations.”
In our story, Mrs. X, through the story that I scripted, is lead to a transformation, an identity enhancement-enrichment. After my story she became too.
Signature/“wow” stories in hospitality enable the emotional connection. The emotional connection is achieved when we capture the heart of the guest. It is a situation more unconscious than conscious, in which the customer continues to buy because he desires it, because he feels unique and because he comes closer to what he wants to be like a human.
Ultimately, emotions are effective since they are very basic biological human mechanisms. When a hotel operates effectively, it enlists its intangible toolkit, namely experiential hospitality through “wow” stories, and succeeds in resonating with each guest’s emotional goals.
About the author
Alexia Charoupa graduated from the Department of Communication, Media and Culture, at Panteion University (with a specialization in Marketing, PR and Communication). She is a Hospitality Storyteller on Travel Daily News and Hospitality Net. Furthermore, she is Guest Experience Expert at The Cloud Keys. She has performed Concierge at The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., Concierge d’hôtel at Katikies Hotel, Santorini, and Guest Relations Manager at Rocabella Santorini Hotel & SPA, Santorini.
Moreover, she is the Creator of “The Storytelling Hotel”. With “The Storytelling Hotel”, Alexia represented Greece in the 3rd Annual European Thesis Competition of Edcom by EACA (European Association of Communication Agencies) after being nominated by the Greek Institute of Communication to do so and was given a place among the TOP 10 European Finalists.
“The Storytelling Hotel” was also awarded the Silver Tourism Award 2016 – in the Section: Strategy & Innovation/Award Category: 1.7 Research & Writing Work: ΤEMES (Costa Navarino) in cooperation with Alexia Charoupa, Bachelor Thesis, Panteion University.
Her expertise lies in the branding narrative management of hotels, the experience economy as well as the creation of storytelling and “wow” factors in the field of hospitality. Recognizing hotels as narrative platforms, she tries to increase each hotel’s uniqueness in terms of service innovation, accomplished through personalized signature experiences and, last but not least, managing the emotional connection of the guest with the brand.