“We Buy From People We Like”

Seth Godin St. Regis

Last week I had a great experience at our event featuring Seth Godin at the St. Regis Hotel & Spa in Dana Point, CA.

Weeks before, I spent a lot of time touring many different hotels around Orange County and meeting with their event coordinators and catering people. Most of the spaces were suitable, but I have to admit that a lot of my decision came down to how well I liked the people. My friend and new media guru Chris Brogan has talked a lot on this subject. That is, business often comes down to this: “we buy from people we like.”

Many of the other hotels I visited were nice, but the people there made me feel less than special in most cases.  I had a different experience at the St. Regis. I met with two nice women, Christina and Amy, who were very attentive and more than willing to go the extra mile for me and my event. Even the valet guys were cool when I just needed to run into the hotel for a second to drop something off.

If you’re cynical, you may think that I found a hotel that was desperate for business and therefore treated me better than the others. I think it’s a reasonable idea and could be true in some cases. But the other properties I visited have been hit just as hard by the economy, yet my experience was much different. So what gives?_M1T3152

Was the St. Regis trying to lure me (and my community of affluent Orange County business people) to the hotel for future business opportunities? I would hope so!

We’ve got more than 5,000 members and growing-some of the top talent in the OC. These people run big companies and hold their own conferences and off-site meetings. Our members have parties and weddings-the kinds of things that keep hotels in business. Any smart marketer would see the opportunities and rush to partner with us, right? But I met many along the way while planning this event who did more to push me away rather than explore the possibilities…

Another recent Brogan post about “Guest Experience” made me think about this a bit more. Chris breaks the hotel experience down like this:

Guest Experience for a Hotel:

  • Prospecting – guest wants a place to stay.
  • Research – guest compares information for selection.
  • Purchase – guest pays for a room.
  • Arrival – guest reaches the facility.
  • Checkin – guest secures room.
  • Entry – guest steps into the room.
  • Inhabitation – guest’s stay at the facility.
  • Error handling – anything that goes wrong.
  • Checkout – guest leaves the facility.
  • Aftermath – any contact with guest thereafter.

Chris’ post is about ensuring guests have a positive memorable experience-and pushing us to think how we can improve things. It’s not just for hotels, but for anyone who has customers.

Many experts have said it before, but I know first-hand, that marketing is no longer one-to-one. It’s about tapping into communities and tribes of people.  The St. Regis, specifically Christina, and later Amy, a nine year veteran employee of the hotel, seem to understand this.

The day before the event Amy threw me a curve ball. After all the planning to layout the room and other areas for sponsors and guests, Amy asked me to move everything to a completely new part of the hotel. I freaked out a little but she was calm and professional. Actually, she joked around with me, which really made me feel comfortable and showed her personality. As a result, I trusted her even more. The reason for the move was to give us more space, since our attendee list had grown significantly. She helped reorganize everything in a jiffy and it turned out even better than expected.

Amy stayed late the night of my event to make sure things were going smoothly and I was happy. Overall, the event went pretty well but it wasn’t perfect. With so many people attending, the parking situation was terrible and congested. The cool valet guys forgot to direct my guests through the proper door and many people didn’t know where to go at first. But in the end, it was Amy who was there for me. She’s the one who I will remember helped me have a memorable experience. I’ll go back to the St. Regis and refer my members there because of the people. I think it’s true that when all is said and done, we do business with people we like.

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  • http://www.edennproperty.com Esther Denn

    I agree that we buy from people we like but I would take one step further and add that we like people because they treat us well. By that I mean, they listen to our concerns, respond to them with care and attempt to provide satisfying results for us. It is the fact that they try that matters most.

  • http://www.ILGResults.com Phil Lauterjung

    I couldn’t agree with you more about this post. I would like to expand on the concept slightly. John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing (but you probably knew that), has consistently said that people aren’t really ready to buy from you until they know, like, and trust you. Over and over I have found that to be true throughout my career.

    Congratulations on the great success, with the help of your friends of course, of the Seth Godin event. I’m looking forward to the next event on the 30th.

  • http://www.sonomacounty.com Robin McKee-Cant, CMP

    This is a great reminder that everyone working in a luxury sales and marketing capacity has to combine exceptional sales and customer service skills with patience. It doesn’t matter how good your product is, you still need to be nice, respectful and a little humble to win and keep business. In Northern CA where I’m from, you can represent a cult winery that has a waiting list for purchasing - but if the staff in the ‘front of the house’ doesn’t provide exceptional customer service, no matter how good the wine is, it still leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

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