Opening Statement

For businesses big and small, the little details can make all the difference


Protagonist: my pal Bart, a humble public servant.

The scene: A big Toronto hotel.

After a long day of conferencing, Bart heads to his room for a break. Ah yes, lying on the bed in your skivvies thinking about what to have for dinner.

Not so fast, hayseed. The fire alarm goes off, followed by a frenzied staff trying to make sure every room is vacated.
Damn. Have to get dressed again.

Turns out all is not lost (nor is the hotel) and guests can remain in the bar until the all-clear sounds. Then it’s back up the elevator for Bart, still seeking a little quiet relaxation.

The phone rings. It’s work, back in London. Big problem. Drive back from the conference right away and sort it out? Not necessary, call the next name on the emergency list. She’s only minutes away. ‘Away’ turned out to be the operative word. Okay, stay in the room until the call comes and she can handle the situation. No need to drive home and back overnight.

Hungry? There’s some peanuts. And a couple bottles of a nice craft beer in the bar fridge.

Problem. Try as he might, Bart cannot locate a bottle opener.

“Sorry sir, but we no longer provide bottle openers in the room.”

Say what? All the rooms are opener-free?

“That is correct, sir.”

Hmm. Well, I have this bottle of quite expensive beer from your fridge. You get it open and I’ll be happy to pay for it. Otherwise…

“No problem, sir. We’ll send someone right up.”

Knock, knock. Bart hides behind the door, again in his skivvies, and hands the bottle through the opening. The maid pops the top and walks away.

Mission accomplished. Beer, peanuts, TV and a phone sure to ring soon. Or maybe not so soon. Time goes by, beer and peanuts are consumed and thoughts of the second bottle start to dance in Bart’s head.

What the heck, it’s not like he’d have to go down to the desk to have it opened. They could send somebody up again. They must be used to that by now.

“Sorry sir, the staff that attends to that have all gone home.”

Oh for…

“But if you take your bottle to the bar, they will be happy to open for you.”

On go the clothes again, down to the bar, a quick pop of the top and Bart heads back to his room. Technically a criminal, because it’s against the law to be strolling through the building with an open beer. Fortunately, no Drive Safe checkpoints in the hallway, but Bart is beyond annoyed.

Eventually the call comes, the problem is resolved and Bart drifts off to sleep wondering in what hotel on what planet is a no-opener policy necessary. Some people can open beer bottles with lighters, a spoon or a belt buckle, but not everyone is so gifted. Many of us still need an old-fashion top popper, and a smart host would make sure we had one. Otherwise, what’s the point of stocking the fridge with anything but twist-off caps?

That hotel has lost Bart’s business for good, on general principles, and he’s not exactly their best ambassador right now, either. In the highly competitive hotel industry, their thoughtless policy on a small issue has cost them future revenue.

You might want to ask yourself if there is a bottle opener problem in your company, a very minor oversight that might be hurting your business in a major way.

Saving the cost of a bottle opener in the room: a couple of bucks at most. Losing a customer who expected and deserved just a tiny bit more consideration: priceless. Opening Statement The Critic: Jim Chapman Jim Chapman


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