By Jeff Blackman
In November of 2014, I had a short, yet successful business trip to Bend, Oregon. It was incredibly enhanced by my stay at The Oxford Hotel. (A tale worth sharing, especially since this month’s issue of the Business Journal, has stories related to tourism and vacations.)
While I was there for only two nights and less than 48 hours, The Oxford and my experience were truly unforgettable.
Like many boutique hotels I’ve had the privilege to stay at across the U.S., Canada and Europe, The Oxford delivers big time; i.e., an inviting lobby, a spacious bright room with a comfy sitting area and roomy work space, complimentary Wi-Fi, plentiful amenities, two monster in-room flat screens, a “welcome” in-room goodies bag, enough pillows to build a dam, plenty of pint-sized shampoo, conditioner and bath and shower gel bottles to start your own retail store, and a quality on-premise restaurant.
Plus, it’s literally within a walking distance of seconds or minutes of downtown Bend’s coffee shops, restaurants, pubs, antique stores, art galleries, theatres, shopping, parks, water and scenery.
Yet what really distinguishes this gem, is its people. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is helpful, attentive and sincere in their desire to make your visit memorable.
Does a Ritz-Carlton deliver? You bet.
Can other “non-luxury” hotels also deliver? Absolutely.
Yet at The Oxford, it happens in an intimate setting and in a personal way. Folks are friendly and focused. I knew their drivers, concierges, front-desk team and bellmen by name. They of course, always greeted me by name.
While at many hotels, even the boutiques, a polite request is answered with a polite “No,” or a “Wish we could, but that’s against our policy.”
At The Oxford, EVERY request was greeted with a “Yes,” or “Absolutely,” or “We’ll see how we can make that work or happen.”
Oh, while most of these talented Oxford hospitality pros walk on two legs, one of ’em welcomes you from four legs. The owner’s dog, Remington, is a gorgeous Bernese mountain dog, that’s perched smack dab in the middle of the small, inviting lobby and greets you upon arrival.
Remington is almost a metaphor for this fine property, giving you a little hint, this sojourn will be unlike any other. The only thing missing, was my wife. She’s already asking, “When are WE going to Bend and staying at The Oxford?”
Ten lessons for your business:
1. Know a customer’s name and use it.
2. Smile and show sincere interest in a customer or client.
3. Provide individualized attention.
4. Ask polite questions, that always help you discover how you can make a difference in one’s personal or professional life.
5. Surprise people and exceed expectations. For example, I asked one of the concierges, Connie, in the morning before I left for a speaking engagement, if it was okay for me to get one more complimentary copy of the in-room magazine on Bend. (I wanted to send it to a valued friend and client, yet I also wanted it mailed from Bend.)
When I returned in the afternoon, she handed me the magazine along with an Oxford Hotel 9x12 envelope to mail it. AND she already added stamps! AND she then refused my offer to pay for postage!
6. Make the answer to any reasonable request, “Yes.” or “Absolutely.”
7. Be punctual. Jason, a gracious and personable bellman, who drove me in the hotel van to and from meetings, was always on-time.
8. Hire people of strong character, who are passionate and committed. (You can always teach skills.)
9. Be willing to “give” in return, not just “take.” Connie asked, “If you were pleased with your stay, would you mind submitting a review to TripAdvisor?” I quickly answered, “Have never done it before, yet it’ll be my pleasure.”
Within 15 hours of my return home, it was done. (And as of this writing, it has been read by more than 1,102 readers.)
10. Immediately buy a Bernese mountain dog! They make quite a first impression.