“We want our guests to be surprised when they arrive at our Inn and that’s why we don’t tell them about the free parking, the free breakfast, the bottled water, the cookies and the fresh fruit free in every room that none of our competitors offer. If a potential customer is phoning and price shopping, we might be just a little higher price, but the experience the guest has at our Inn is more important than a ten dollar saving.”
David Martin is a restauranteur and innkeeper in Stratford Ontario. His little 14 room boutique Mercer Hall Inn has only come into existence in the past 3 years and already is one of the most popular hotels in Stratford,....
a town of 30,000 people, which hosts the Stratford Festival Theatre every year from April to November and sees approximately 600,000 tickets sold per season. That’s a lot of people looking for food and lodging every year and Dave’s two restaurants and inn are well placed to serve as many as they can and they do, with occupancy rates way above the national average during the peak of the season.
The problem is the season is only 7 months long and the peak of that is only 3 months. So what do you do for the rest of the year? That’s the dilemma Dave is facing and leads to an annual average occupancy of about 50%.
In addition to a variety of proactive things Dave is doing to increase those numbers on an annual basis, he has recognized the need to build Customer Experience Equity with his guests. They need to feel special about coming to his inn and the added extras are part of the plan to build that feeling. Customer Experience Equity (CEE) gives your business a little edge that helps you in the future with your customers and against your competitors. When your customer comes back to town in the future that residual equity can make sure they come back to you. And the other important thing about building Customer Experience Equity is that even if the customer experience the second time around is not up to what they experienced the first visit, they still have that residual equity built up that may allow them to overlook it. That’s not to say once you have built up CEE that you can slack off. I’m not saying that at all, but the reality of giving good customer service encounters bumps in the road and is very difficult to retain optimum performance from your staff who deliver it.
At the Wizard Academy in Buda Texas, the customer experience is expressed as the Personal Experience Factor or PEF and is graded on a scale with 1.0 being average. The PEF is an important part of the Advertising Performance Equation which helps with the assessment of a business’s ability to grow. If 1.0 is the average on the scale, the delivery of 0.7 is very commonplace. Dave’s Mercer Hall Inn is striving to provide a PEF of more than 1.3 all the time and the delivery of a few extras helps build that all important Customer Experience Equity.