Over the last six weeks, I was on the road traveling to one place or another for business. During that time, I’ve met a lot of great people, seen a lot of cool things, and stayed in some very ordinary hotels. There was nothing wrong with any of the hotels, just nothing interesting either. They were fine. They were also all somewhere in the range of $100-$200 a night, which—for the respective cities in which I was staying (e.g. Hopkinsville Kentucky, versus Brooklyn New York)—was unexceptional.
For some time now though, I’ve been a fan of the Kimpton chain of hotels. My first exposure to a Kimpton hotel was in Washington D.C. I was there to do a consulting project for the Australian Embassy and the Rouge was right across the street. After traveling all day, I checked in and was offered a glass of wine; my arrival had happily coincided with their nightly wine hour. And the place was cool! There weren’t muted shades of beige and nutmeg, oh no. This place was a deep, naughty red, floor to ceiling. A seven foot mirror was propped against the wall and the room came with my very own animal print bathrobe. I joined the guest membership program they call Kimpton InTouch. I’m a member of other hotel loyalty programs but they seldom get me anything of real use. At the Rouge, I got free internet.
After the Rouge, I began searching out and discovering additional Kimpton properties and I began to keep track (informally of course) of the way the Kimpton positions itself and delivers upon its brand. In the months that followed, my InTouch membership yielded the typical e-newsletters, but these were different. Instead of simply promoting themselves, the Kimpton regularly offers fun, themed getaway packages; things like “The Autumn getaway” with fall-themed cocktails at check-in, kid-friendly packages, pet-friendly packages and LGBT couple getaway packages.
I discovered that my own hometown of Denver had a Kimpton—the Hotel Monacowhich, true to its theme was boldly decorated and lavishly appointed. My husband and I decided to get away for a night and checked into the Hotel Monaco where we were told we’d been upgraded to a suite—a sumptuous, gigantic affair with twenty-foot ceilings, a Jacuzzi tub and a living room. After dinner, we returned to our room and found a bottle of champagne icing in a bucket. I was secretly concerned we’d been given the wrong room and some bridegroom was wondering why he got the little bathroom and upset that his champagne hadn’t arrived. But no; it was no mistake, it’s just how Kimpton rolls.
I love them as a customer, but also as a brand marketer. Kimpton’s integrated marketing practices are conceived and executed with perfection.
What’s not to love about a temporary pet that inspires a fun reason to call home and tell my kid about my adventures on the road? I posted a photo of Gold Silverwings on my own Facebook page and when I returned to the room later, I found a bottle of Washington red wine, a bag of Seattle chocolates, and a handwritten note from the concierge thanking me for the nice things I’d said on Facebook.
This is brand execution at its finest; they communicate well, they deliver spendidly. In the early 1990s, Ken Blanchard wrote a customer service book called “Raving Fans.” I’ve gone from being a Kimpton Raving Fan to a Maniacal Kimpton Loyalist.
Does it make business sense? Has treating me nicely made a business difference to Kimpton? Oh yeah. By identifying the elements that it will take to make someone’s stay “true,” they have not only won me over; I’ve recommended the Kimpton to my colleagues, and all my friends, netting the Seattle Kimptons eight additional hotel stays in the past two months alone.
Kyndra Wilson, KW Brand Translation, LLC
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