maximum potential

these are the thought starters, insights, and inspiration to get you, and the brands you manage, to reach your maximum potential

why aren’t you discriminating against me?

at the end of 2008 i purchased my first place.  i now live in the westin book cadillac (i used to hide this fact, but now realize that i can’t be ashamed or hide God’s blessings).  i’m not quite sure how marketing works here, but sometimes i feel extremely ignored.  in noel capon’s book, marketing mavens, his second rule of marketing is “pick targets to dominate.”  although i live, eat, and sleep here everyday (along w/ several others), i don’t think they have determined in their minds that they will dominate the resident target and capture a tremendous share of wallet from me and that’s a problem.  i am also willing to bet that annual value of a resident is probably much higher than most any other target.  don’t get me wrong, i love where i live (in fact, everywhere i have gone in the hotel today they have told me happy birthday and treated me like a king…that’s nice) but there is so much left to be desired from the added amenities that are present at the hotel.  a few examples:

 

  • laundry.  resident discount = 15%.  now, while that may sound like a big double digit discount to them, it is no where near the normal prices that i pay (current price for a dress shirt = $1.20, hotel price before/after discount = $5.80/$4.93).  so i pay 4X to do dry cleaning at home and unless someone explains why their soap is so great, i will keep giving the dry cleaner at the office all of my money.  the problem is, they are treating me (a resident) like an out of towner with limited options.  score: westin book cadillac (wbc) = $0/mo, competition = $20-$50/mo
  • room service.   resident discount = 20% + delivery charge eliminated.  again, hotels tend to err on the expensive side, which means the food is pricey, there is still an 18% service charge, and taxes.  so everyday i decide between room service and several options including many that are no cost (cook) or low cost (McDonald’s).  i will be honest, i don’t know where the tipping point is but what i can be sure of is that there is a discount where i decide it’s better/easier to order room service than to cook or eat mcdonald’s every night.  right now, we are no where close to that.  consequently, room service is saved for special occassions only-like my birthday today.
  • roast.  roast is the gourmet restaurant of Michael Symon’s (2007 Iron Chef of America) located on the first floor.  resident discount = $0.  ’nuff said.
  • spa19 24grille.  it hasn’t opened yet, but i’m not feeling hopeful.
  • there is also no discount at motor bar, wbc coffee shop, nor the sundry shop.  
  • house account.  each resident has a house account and instead of pulling out a credit card to pay for our bill, we get to look cool as we get up to leave and just ask the waiter/waitress to put it on our house account.  i’m not quite sure why they created house accounts, but for me, it’s main benefit is to look/feel cool.  so why doesn’t it work everywhere in the hotel?  to date, i know it doesn’t work at roast, wbc, nor the sundry shop.  while this is not an issue about price discrimination, it is an issue of discrimination.  they should treat me differently.  and if the house account doesn’t work for technical reasons, then their waitress should call my concierge (who has access to my credit cards) and they should handle it between them.  like all luxury goods, part of the reason i pay the premium is because of how it makes me feel.  i don’t feel half as cool putting it on a credit card (which i can do anywhere) as i do putting it on my house account.  

Westin Book Cadillacfor those of you who are thinking i just want cheaper prices (who doesn’t everyone right now…it’s the economy stupid!) it’s not the only solution.  what about a loyalty program that incentivized (i know it’s not a word but we used it in bschool all of the time!) me to buy coffee downstairs 10 times a month, or do room service 5 times a month?

 

anyway, the point is, as marketers, we should pick targets to dominate.  part of dominating those targets means treating them differently.  treating them differently doesn’t always mean more money (most of my examples cost little to nothing) and will allow you to get more loyalty, more free marketing (via word of mouth), and ultimately, more share of wallet.  

who should you be discriminating against?

correction: as soon as I posted this i said something to the ladies in wbc coffee and i was informed that we do get a 20% discount.  this is excellent as their price are normal coffee shop prices ($2.50-$3.95) not astronomical hotel prices; consequently 20% actually means something.  they will get my business.  just cause…

also, i should be clear that the concierge is awesome!  no complaints.

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3 Responses

  1. Sean H says:

    I love this analysis. . . and your new lifestyle even more dude. Well done! My only thought is that property residents may not be a material component of the propertiy’s focus – be it strategic or financial. I know that some business implement programs simply because they must (e.g. “we put it in the marketing brochure) and consciously acknowledge that its not worth winning on that particular element. Evidence of this is doing a lot of things, but not doing any of them well – especially when the organization has the intellectual capacity and human capital resources to do so. Other evidence is if the property’s guests are content with or indifferent to all the services that you described.

    I’d be curious to know the proportion of residents vs. guests by both volume and revenues. Perhaps the resident’s mortgages are a cash flow subsidy cushioning the property’s need to reach full occupancy or even a way to shorten investors’ payback period. It could be that this is all they are.

    Either way. . . you’re definitely out the hood now, so enjoy life my friend.

  2. Dan says:

    After reading your blog I figured I’d let you know that 24grille is open. The Spa will open in March also.24grille also offers 20% discount on top of our very well priced menu to the residents along with a free shuttle to games, concerts,airport etc…The grille also offers a house account for the residents. As all the owners also purchased condos in the Book. So stop in and enjoy!!!

    • Detavio says:

      thanks dan. i appreciate you taking the time to reach out to me on my blog. i have been in contact with bob several times and it definitely looks like you guys are doing things right. congratulations on being the first non-hotel owned business to offer the residents a discount (and a respectable one at that). for that alone i will support. i am on a special diet this week but will be in next week after it ends. did i read your comment right…you are offering free shuttles to the airport??? regardless, i will be in. looking forward to being neighbors and connecting offline at 24grille as well.

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