Dec-1-2009

The Benjamin Experience: Not your average satisfaction gaurantee

Post written by Chris Spagnuolo. Follow Chris on Twitter 3 comments

If you don’t sleep as well at The Benjamin Hotel as you do at home, Andy Labetti, General Manager for The Benjamin, will give you a free night’s stay. A good night’s sleep is non-negotiable. The Benjamin’s ‘Sleep Guarantee’ ensures that everyone who stays at the hotel walks away well rested or gets their money back. If a guest is dissatisfied with his or her sleep at The Benjamin, all they need to do is contact the front desk, and the hotel will refund the cost of their night’s stay.

And those aren’t just some words slapped on a hotel brochure. The Benjamin has gone to extraordinary lengths to back up the guarantee of a good night’s rest in New York, “the city that never sleeps.”

Andy told me “The Benjamin sells a good night’s sleep, and we guarantee each guest’s comfort by providing anticipatory services, such as remembering a pillow preference and having it waiting in the room upon check-in. We’ve also implemented a number of innovative initiatives, including our Sleep Concierge, a 12-choice pillow menu, our sleep guarantee and a variety of other sleep-inducing amenities through room service and our Wellness Spa. We always provide caring and genuine service with an innkeeper’s mentality to make every guest feel like their comfort and needs are our top priority, and we center everything the hotel does around following through on these expectations.”

In fact, three days before a guest is scheduled to arrive, the staff advises him or her of the pillow menu so that the pillow will be in the room when the guest arrives. The menu is amazing. It offers guests a selection of 12 different types of pillows from which to choose: down, upper body, buckwheat, satin, hypo-allergenic, water-filled, Swedish memory, magnetic therapy, a jelly neckroll, a five-foot body cushion, sound, maternity and a special anti-snore pillow. In addition to the pillows, the hotel features The Benjamin Bed: a Serta mattress created exclusively for The Benjamin, covered with 100% Egyptian Cotton 400-plus thread count sheets by Anichini and a down-filled comforter with luxurious triple sheeting. (The pillows, sheets, and mattresses have become so popular that they are now offered for sale for guests who want to sleep as well at home as they do at The Benjamin!) Aromatherapy bathroom amenities help guests relax and prepare for bed. In addition to the luxurious sleep amenities, The Benjamin’s windows are double-glazed with argon gas between the panes to help keep rooms quiet and restful. If you’ve ever slept in a midtown Manhattan hotel, you know how important that is!

When I asked Andy about The Benjamin’s edgecrafted marketing strategy, he told me “We realized that the number one productivity tool for today’s travelers wasn’t a laptop or Blackberry – it’s a good night’s sleep. The Benjamin is an innovator in the hospitality industry by recognizing that niche and being the first hotel to offer a 12-choice pillow menu and an on-staff Sleep Concierge to satisfy guest’s needs for a perfect night’s sleep.” He went on to say that “We are continually educating our staff so all associates know the latest sleep tips and breaking research in the sleep industry. Sleep intertwines throughout the whole culture at The Benjamin – from the sleep-inducing food we serve to the in-room soothing amenities and services we offer to the soothing sounds and smells that are infused throughout the property.”

I love that Andy said “Sleep intertwines throughout the whole culture at The Benjamin”. Culture, in addition to the unique services offered, is what seems to set The Benjamin apart. And that culture includes listening not only to their guests, but to their staff as well. “As an organization, it’s our culture to include our staff in all new ideas and innovations that we bring into The Benjamin,” Andy said. “We talk to our associates about what ideas they might have that we could implement so everyone is involved in the continuing development of the hotel and shares the responsibility to make sure it comes to fruition. As an example, when we introduce a new pillow, everyone has a chance to test it so they learn what the benefits are in case a guest asks them to recommend something for a specific ailment The Benjamin staff prides itself on the satisfaction scores we receive from past guests, and we are always working as a team to make sure we are continuing to raise those scores across the board.” Key point: Continuous improvement through teamwork and collaboration.

The Benjamin also actively collects feedback from their guests through one-on-one discussions and by hosting weekly managers’ receptions. No “How did we do?” cards here. They also put outside focus groups together for new ideas, and have staff meetings twice a month to talk about the future of The Benjamin. They discuss not only what’s happening inside The Benjamin, but also what other hotel companies are doing and how the hospitality industry is developing overall.

Now that’s edgecraft! That’s setting yourself up to be remarkable. A lot of hotels offer a “100% Satisfaction Guarantee”, but how many go to the lengths that The Benjamin does to actually make sure that their guests are satisfied. If you’re going to offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee to your customers, think about what The Benjamin does and ask yourself “Am I offering just words and hoping for the best, or am I actively doing something to make sure my customers are satisfied 100%?”

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  1. Tom Boyle said,

    What if you are on your honeymoon, and sleep is not prime objective?

    Is there a honeymoon over-ride?

    (pun intended)

  2. Toma Bonciu said,

    Hi there Chris,

    A really inspiring post. This marketing strategy is very powerful because it says to the public that you, as the owner of the business, are absolutely convinced by the quality of your product (or service). This usually generates trust from your clients. When you are ready to refund 100% it means you know your business and what you have to offer.

    Thank you,
    Toma Bonciu
    http://blog.tomabonciu.ro

  3. Kris Dekom said,

    An interesting guarantee. Not quite the same as “your money back.” The incremental cost of a hotel room (assuming there is capacity) is not nearly as high as “money back.”

    But it is a good risk reversal. The customer’s risk is lowered considerably. It also ably sends the message the hotel believes in its product (a good night’s sleep): they are willing to risk assets to prove it.

    A fair question to ask is, what other forms of guarantees can you implement? Which make sense under what circumstances?

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