What Beautiful Shoes
Posted on: May 15, 2012 by: Lior ArussyComments
During a recent business trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, I decided to check into the Missoni Hotel - one of two in the whole world. The Italian based hotel was designed by the famous Italian fashion house by the same name. Known for colorful and geometric designs, the Missoni designers were able to transfer the beautiful spirit of life to the hotel. The vibrant designs were felt in every aspect of the hotel experience. From the specially designed hotel staff uniforms (including a Missoni kilt) to the rooms and the toiletries, the designer’s trademark style was apparent. Utilizing different materials and fabrics, the Missoni Hotel is a celebration for the senses. It was not a surprise to me that the vibrant designs infused a sense of celebration and happiness in every aspect of the hotel. The hotel website prepared me for these sensations by giving me an accurate depiction of what my stay would look like. And as a design house, I expected Missoni to shine in this aspect.
The surprise came in the service. Fashion designers are not known for their service attitude, to say the least. In fact, most of them look down at their customers evoking an attitude that says, “You should be grateful for the privilege to enjoy my brilliant designs. How lucky are you to touch the stars”. Designated as a boutique hotel, The Missoni hotel was destined, in my mind, for a similar fate. I expected the staff to be wearing black turtlenecks with a style and arrogance that demonstrated a belief of self-importance. I anticipated they would extend the self-obsessed attitude of fashion designers. To my surprise, the Missoni hotel was everything but that. The experience was well designed to ensure guests are delighted and appreciated.
Here are several examples:
- The staff – wearing Missoni sweaters and other Missoni clothing, were all fresh and excited to see their guests. They were always cheerful and ready to dispense advice and ideas on how to enjoy Edinburgh. Their attitude was very approachable and welcoming. No trace of snobbism was detected. While in discussion with some of them, I discovered that the hotel’s motto is “vita” meaning “life” in Italian. As it turns out, they are trained and practicing how to celebrate life with the guests. Every interaction is therefore an opportunity to celebrate life with guests.
- Generous compliments – the staff is well trained to dispense generous compliments to guests. One of the popular compliments is “what beautiful shoes”. To reinforce it, the staff had a “vita week” where they had to bring their beautiful shoes to work. Every opportunity to compliment a guest is seized by the staff as part of the commitment to celebrate life as the spirit of the hotel.
- Experimentation welcome – when sitting at the bar, I was given a full description of the drinks. At one point, while ordering a certain cocktail, the employees offered me a unique drink creation he made. He felt comfortable doing this in the “vita spirit” of the hotel. I cannot describe what I drank there but it was a once in a lifetime experience. This spirit is rare in process oriented organizations.
- Free Wi-Fi – sounds simple? Not in high end hotels. The Missoni provides free Wi-Fi to all guests.
- Free candies – several candy jars are placed in the lobby with small plastic bags next to them. Guests are encouraged to take the candies in the plastic bags to their rooms. Celebrate Vita one sweet at a time.
- Free movies – yes, free movies to all. A long list of recent movies are available to all guests in their rooms
- Free mini bar – yes, you heard it right. It was not stocked with whiskies and brandies, but free coke, diet coke, water and wine combined with chips are available to all guests. Don’t be afraid of this mini bar. It is your friend not your cash trap.
- Free laundry – Up to two items are sent to their laundry service free of charge. Yes, you heard it right. The Missoni will do some of your laundry on the house.
- Upgraded espresso machine in every room – Free Espresso coffee available in all rooms.
- The Missoni App – The hotel has its own iApp with all the information you need to know about the hotel and Edinburgh. A great tool to navigate the different exciting opportunities available to you in this exciting town.
All of these perks are included for a reasonable price, competitive with all other hotels in the area. The best way I can describe it is authentic Italian hospitality; a generous experience that does not nickel and dime the customer and thereby makes them very comfortable enjoying their “vita” while visiting the hotel.
As I previously mentioned, I expected the superior and original designs, but I was sure that it would come with the typical price tag of boutique hotels – attitude for all and everything is chargeable. Instead I felt welcome and at ease with warm staff and generous amenities. In a discussion with one of the staff members I was told that they practice this openness. One staff member said, “As you know, us British people are not so open about expressing ourselves or generous with compliments”. He went on to say, “We practice it here so we can feel more comfortable doing it”. What a wonderful way to identify the challenges of cultures and tackle them effectively.
Although my shoes were not identified as beautiful, the Missoni experience was exceptional and delightful. In a time where every vendor tries to monetize every service, the Missoni Hotel chose the opposite direction. Be generous and they will come.