I’m serving at the hotel, a group of six come in to the restaurant, sit down. I go up, introduce myself, set some menus down, take their drink order. Young group, I ask what they’re doing in town, they tell me they’re in Des Moines for a convention. I go get their drinks, set them down, we get to talking. There are three young men, and three young women at the table. I ask them, so what are you guys up to tonight? One of the young ladies says to me, we don’t know. What should we do? I say, what are you looking to do? She says, have some cocktails here, then find another bar, somewhere close by. I say, great. I know the perfect place to go. There is a bar literally 36 steps from the hotel. She says, oh really? I say, ok. Don’t hold me to that number. I haven’t actually counted the steps, but it’s somewhere around there. You go out the back door of the hotel, turn right, and the bar is in the next building over. Cool bar, has a 50’s apartment feel to it, with a great selection of craft cocktails. She says, awesome! We’ll check it out!
About a month ago, to prepare for the re-opening of our restaurant/bar that was recently renovated, the hotel set up a training session with a company called the Ellis Adams Group. A man named Ezra did the training. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical at first whether I would learn something from the training, but I was pleasantly surprised with Ezra’s bar and restaurant knowledge. At one point in the training, Ezra talked about his “Starbucks Moment.”
A number of years ago, he was working at the Ritz Carlton, and happened to be in earshot of some guests in the lobby when he heard them say, you know what would be great? A Starbucks coffee. The guests didn’t know Ezra heard them, and after they left, he walked up to the shuttle service, and said he needed to borrow a car. They were reluctant at first, but then gave him the keys. He drives to a Starbucks nearby, and buys two cups of Starbucks coffee, takes them back to the hotel, finds out what room the guests were staying in, and knocks on their door. They open the door, and he says, I was in the lobby, and overheard you saying how much you’d like a Starbucks coffee. I took the liberty to go out and get you a couple.
They were understandably surprised and impressed. The next day, Ezra comes in, and the manager asks him to come to his office. He says, one, we’re going to have to talk about you borrowing a car from the hotel, but we’ll discuss that later. Secondly, the guest you got the Starbucks coffee for left you an envelope. Ezra opens it up, and there in the envelope, was a thank you note, and a crisp $100 bill. And every day after that, an envelope was waiting for Ezra with $100 bill in it, for as long as the couple stayed at the hotel.
In the training, he described this as his “Starbucks Moment.” It is a moment you find the opportunity to go above and beyond the expectations of a guest.
Getting back, the table of six sat in my section for a good hour, enjoying each other’s company, and some tasty beverages. I would go up to their table, and entertain them with stories I thought they would enjoy. Some tables you just instantly have a rapport with, and this was one.
Upon leaving, they thanked me for my service, and told me they were going to check out the bar I recommended. I said, don’t forget to count the steps, and get back to me.
When they left, upon cleaning up their table, I realized that one of the ladies had left their to-go food. I approached my manager, and said, hey, can you do me a favor? Deliver this drink order for me I just put in. I gotta do something. I’ll be right back.
I grab the to-go bag, make my way to the back door of the hotel, and exit. I start counting my steps. 1, 2, 3. I reach the front door of the bar, go in, look for the group. Hey guys! They’re sitting at a table, lounging with drinks. CLINT! One of them yells. I said, I just wanted you to know, if you didn’t already, that it was 90 steps to the bar. They laugh. One of the young women says, you know what, Clint? I left my to-go food at the table. At this point, she hadn’t seen what was in my hand. I say, oh, this one? And hand it to her. The crowd goes wild. CLINT!!! Stay, have a drink with us! I say, sorry guys, I gotta get back to work.
And with that, I left the bar, and found my own “Starbucks Moment.”