Thought Leadership

What kind of pillows do you want?

By Colin Walls

I am very interested in examples of good business practice and exceptional service and I have written on this topic on previous occasions [here and here]. I think it is particularly interesting when the noteworthy service is delivered by a multi-national company, where they seem to have built the concept into their culture.

My example this time is a large hotel in central London – just a short distance from Marble Arch. Do email me if you want to know the details…

My initial visit to this hotel was essentially accidental – it was in the right place and had a room available when I needed it. I began to use it whenever I was in London, as the place seemed fine and even featured free on-site car parking. One feature I liked was the health club. After a long day, the steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi offered welcome relaxation.

One day I went into the sauna and there was an oldish guy sitting in there and we got talking. I learned that he was a member of the hotel staff – a porter – who were allowed to use the hotel facilities freely. He was feeling pleased because he was about to retire and his management had told him that he could consider himself a life member of the health club and come in any time he wanted. I expressed surprise, but he told me that this behavior was quite normal; he said the company treated all the staff like they mattered and made everyone feel that it was their hotel.

He asked me how I was enjoying my stay and was there anything I needed. I said I was very happy with everything. After a moment’s thought, I commented that I would actually like feather pillows instead of foam. He said that all I needed to do was call Housekeeping and they would happily swap them.

In due course, I headed off and did not think too much about our conversation – I did not get around to calling Housekeeping. Later that evening there was a knock at my door – it was Housekeeping with my feather pillows …

I guess that my new friend the porter had checked my name on the health club register [it was quite quiet] and called Housekeeping himself. This was terrific service. He took ownership of my request and acted. His few moments effort resulted in thousands of pounds worth of business as I have told this story to lots of people and I am sure many have taken my recommendation.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at