Last week in GuestIQ, we saw several pieces from Jessica Zike and Adam Bienvenu that show evidence that a guest’s perception of value has become entwined with how they think about the experience overall. Basically, it is a mesh of economics, emotions, and sensibility. I found theNY Times article and the article on elmsluxuryfamilyhotels.com particularly helpful in understanding what is now the ‘new normal’ about value.
I find the perception of value interesting because our surveys on best experiences for both spas and hotels strongly support the notion that when guests have great experiences, the amount they paid is nearly last on the list of attributes they recall as important. The level of staff engagement, atmosphere (including cleanliness), and complaint resolution drew much higher scores, and this was true in all hotel segments ranging from luxury to economy. Of course, if there are problems, the guest would conclude the experience and value were poor.
Fast forward to a dinner I had recently at db Bistro Moderne in NYC (get the Cassoulet and the Tarte Flambee if you ever go there). The sommelier came to the table and offered his assistance with selecting wine. I asked what he recommended, and he began by pointing out some wines in different price ranges offering a snippet about each. The sommelier then paused and said the 1997 Cornas by Columbo is an “outstanding value.” Those two words rang the bell, and I ordered the wine, spending a slightly less-than-princely sum for this recommendation.
Well, the wine was outstanding, and it was indeed a great value. It was not a great value because of the price, which seemed perfectly fair for a midtown restaurant, but because I was seeking insight and expertise. Did I mention that the sommelier never asked me what I wanted to spend? He had no idea what my budget was. However, he did know his wine list intimately and offered authentic and sincere counsel. That was the “outstanding value.”
So, let’s modify the Chinese fortune cookie game a bit. Instead of adding “in bed” after the fortune, let’s insert, “is an outstanding value” after the recommendations we give our guests and mean it like the sommelier at db Bistro Moderne. This will ensure more than anything that the guest experience was a great value.