Driving through Austin yesterday I found myself following a shuttle bus for the local DoubleTree by Hilton. My first though was: ‘Why is there a huge picture of a cookie on the back of a hotel shuttle?’… It seemed out of place to me, and as I thought about it some more I started to get more vexed by it all – ultimately saying: ‘Is that really the best thing about staying there?'
My wise passenger concluded that the cookie is used to communicate that DoubleTree wants you to feel at home. Sure enough, after some mobile research we confirmed that the cookie is a bit of an institution and DoubleTree believes that “there is something special about a warm, yummy chocolate chip cookie. It says ‘Welcome’ in so many ways. That’s why we give one to every guest as they check in." I remained interested, but not convinced.
“I did it all for the Cookie”
Imagine the scenario where, for a particular reason, you checked in and DoubleTree didn’t have any cookies left? Impossible? A quick browse of some travel blogs indicates the risk with branding so strongly against the cookie.
In a lot of ways you could argue that hotel accommodation has become relatively impersonal – at least the act of purchasing online. As such, the cookie is a subtle, and simple reason for someone to choose between two hotels that are similarly located, with same ratings and are competing over a few dollars of price.
However, when you arrive…they’ve either run out, you have to share one with your companion or it’s not warm and gooey? It doesn’t surprise me that people take the time to write about it on forums. I doubt that the person’s dissatisfaction comes from the fact that they didn’t get a cookie, but instead, upfront, DoubleTree has broken their implied service contract with you. Ultimately they managed to communicate: ‘We’ve let you down the moment you walk in. We’ll probably do it again during your stay…’ (pause) ‘Can I have your credit card please?’
What about this? Will the 100th cookie you receive taste as good as the first? In absolute terms, I doubt it, because the first, especially if it was a surprise, will always be the highlight of a memorable check-in. Perhaps that’s where the power is. The taste and smell of that 100th cookie might remind you of that first stay at DoubleTree and will set the tone for the rest of your stay.
Some great friends of mine went for a trip to Bali. When they came home I asked what it was like/how was the hotel/what was the best part? One of the first things they said was (you guessed it): ‘The cookies. You get a jar of cookies…that never runs out’. This lead to some jokes about how attentive the staff was, to the point that they believed the cookie jar was either refilled by magic or cookie-ninjas… After all, how do you refill a cookie jar when one of them was in the plunge pool and one of them was in the bathroom – with the door open.
It’s not that the cookies were the best part of the hotel, or the trip, BUT because it was novel, unique, tangible, and such an easy way to communicate just how nice this place was to everybody that wasn’t there.
What’s Koda’s Cookie?
It didn’t take long for this line of thinking to lead me back to Koda. Let’s assume that ‘choc-chip cookies’ are important for service-based businesses, and also for product-based businesses whose offering isn’t particularly tangible. So I ask the question:
The jury’s still out I’m afraid…However, maybe you’re reading a piece of Koda’s ‘cookie’ right now. It’s become pretty apparent to me that this blog is a great way to communicate Koda’s essence: what it’s up to, who we are, and where we are heading. It shows we’re alive, thinking and solving the problems you need solved. It shows we’re partners; we’re unique, refreshing and not afraid to talk about it.
I’m certain that’s not enough to make a difference. I do like the idea of giving clients a simple, easily communicated means to summarize the difference between our products/service and another. Cookies, figurative and otherwise, aren’t a business strategy though. Whatever you do has to be sustainable, adaptable, valuable, and ideally, inimitable. We’re working on it. I promise.
I’d love to hear how you think other service/software based companies enable you to tangibly understand their value – so please like, share, follow and we look forward to comments.
Btw, in case you’re wondering: yes, the cookie in the picture was nice.
Until next time, KODA