Revisiting Surprise and Delight


Share on LinkedIn

Last week I made a typical business trip, but a few unexpected “surprise and delight” offers at my hotel changed the stay from a generic, adequate visit into a warm, welcoming few days.

After I arrived and was almost finished with unpacking, a room service waiter arrived with bottled water and a fruit plate. I thought a friend had arranged it until I read the pretty card from the front desk, thanking me for returning to the hotel. The next day, housekeeping must have noticed my desperately flattened toothpaste tube, because when I arrived back in the room a brand new tube was waiting next to the sink.

Of course, surprise and delight has its limits, and it shouldn’t define your program (see COLLOQUY’s story When Surprise and Delight Isn’t) But if you haven’t thought about surprise and delight for a while, consider its power to change behavior:

Appreciation – I already know that Marriott appreciates my money, and that’s what I always think of when front desk workers say something like, “Thank you, we appreciate your business!” But these gestures made me feel like they appreciated me, and took the time to figure out who I am and what I like.

Support – I eat a lot (the mixed blessing of high metabolism), so I really appreciated the fruit. And my coworkers don’t know how lucky they are that I got the replacement toothpaste. I felt like someone was paying attention to what I needed on the road. Travel is stressful enough without going hungry and having stinky breath.

Engagement – I found myself wanting to hang out at the comfy, friendly hotel instead of going out. I trusted that my support crew at the hotel would take care of whatever I needed, which was less stressful than going around the block for coffee, to a place where they wouldn’t know my name or say things like, “Oh please let me help you carry that to your table.” Of course this meant that I spent more on property than I usually do.

Obviously Marriott doesn’t have a lock on this trick: Jeff Zidell at Hyatt credited the surprise and delight tactics of The Big Welcome contest with increasing program enrollments and energized employees.

For vacation travel I generally look for smaller, boutique hotels. But for an upcoming weekend in Chicago, this time I chose Marriott because I fully expect to be treated well. I’m not saying I need a fruit plate, and I still have plenty of toothpaste, but I know the staff will be happy to see me and make me feel welcome. I bet they’ll even know my name.

Phaedra Hise
As Senior Editor, COLLOQUY, Phaedra leads the creation of new editorial pieces for multiple distinct content platforms in the COLLOQUY media enterprise: COLLOQUY magazine, the Enterprise Loyalty in Practice journal, COLLOQUY web site, COLLOQUY social media blog, COLLOQUY Network Partner content commitments as well as other LoyaltyOne vehicles.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here