No Longer A Memorable Experience, Rather Just A Very expensive Cup of Java.
By J. Ragsdale Hendrie, Hospitality Performance
Wednesday, 11th April 2007
I'd like a supremo, non-lactoid, Malaysian caressed Juggernaut, stirred,  not shaken,  with colored Jimmies, please.

What a journey the darling of retail has undertaken.  Throw in a Sir Elton, Mick or Paul and the party thrown by those irascible colonists in Boston Harbor would have taken a distinct historical turn.  You know the reference, but for protection, we shall call them "Moondoes", the charming coffee maven of note.

They are everywhere, but now, most notably, they grace major Hotel Lobbies.  Just when you think we would see a greater emphasis on Customer Service in those formidable halls of welcome, attention and care, we now are greeted with Barristas.

Is this new frontier unusual?  No.  Remember what has happened to the old grocery store.  Now, you can do your banking, fill prescriptions, get eyeglasses and still buy eggs. Butter, milk and Oreo's.  We appreciate the convenience and applaud those marketers.  The adaptation of Brands percolates on, and we Consumers should be the richer for that experience.  Whoa!  Hold that thought.  Why do we feel shortchanged?

The CEO of "Moondoes" explained their success a while back in this age of the Experience Economy.  It never was about the coffee.  Rather, it was about the Experience – the aura the Store created – warm, comfortable, safe, almost womb-like.  We could read our paper in solitude, do our e-mail, converse conspiratorially, flirt, or discourse in private or with the next table/seat.  We were diffused of stress and anxiety, as we listened to special music.  Our senses were heightened with the color scheme, tempted with the aroma and showcase of selected morsels (an amuse`), and we could fantasize with a laundry list of libation of choice and quirk. Even the ordering process was exotic – make that a Grande!

The Consumer was seduced.  Gosh it felt good, and we would pay for that feeling, gladly.  We had discovered our sanctuary, our haven.

Now, join me in that transition to the Hotel Lobby of your choice.  The relocation represents an alcove or tight corner, and "moondoes" has become a Kiosk Express.  Hotels obviously enjoy some revenue from this partnership.  Guests are pleased with a welcome sight of a known icon.  So far, so good.  Remember, it was not about the coffee, rather the Experience. 

But, now, all we are paying for is the coffee and at the same price as we would trance-like transact at a Company Store.  $3.50 for a medium regular coffee? The Experience does not translate and neither should the pricing! That outrage is enough to move us to water (which is a whole other subject – sparkling, flavored, or tap?)

You have to hand it to them, though.  Savvy marketing, parlaying product placement, and a Consumer, who should be up in arms, but instead is beguiled by the story.  Me, I prefer Maxwell House!  You have to admire the audacity and opine the next step, as the partners (Hotel and "Moondoes") may then move to Room Service (like Uno) or Conference "refreshers".  But, at some time, the price point does reach a cautionary apex, where value challenges benefit.  The envelope is being pushed.  "Actually, hold the Jimmies, please".

The author believes that Remarkable Hospitality is the portal to the Memorable Experience.  Seek solutions at:  www.hospitalityperformance.com
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