What can a clean windshield teach us about life

I travel a fair bit for both work and pleasure. (My guess is that you do, too.)
My family and I just came back from an almost week long visit to Alberta and Banff.
In short, the trip was a big success (all around).
The hotels we stayed at were very nice, featuring nice restaurants, swimming pools etc.
On paper, each of these places, I bet, is dedicated to being the absolute best.
So far there is nothing interesting about this story, right?
Let me see if I can do something about that:
What’s you favorite brand of hotels?

I don’t have one. Why do I feel zero loyalty to any hotel brand?
I did not think much about this topic until recently.
What provoked me to think about it was a book by Youngme Moon called Different (I highly recommend it). You see, there are dozens of hotel brands competing for my business. And yet I feel zero loyalty to any of them. Why?
Sure, I like the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Sure, I was pleasantly surprised at how attractive the Ritz Carlton in Phoenix was when I stayed there last fall. Sure, I found the entire experience from check-in to check-out very slick at the Hotel Concorde Berlin*. Sure, my family and I had the pleasure of spending a week at the Palazzo in Las Vegas recently and we enjoyed it tremendously. I could go on, but I trust that you get the point.

So why is that when I travel, I seek out the comfort and calming environment of my favorite brand of coffee shops, but not a hotel brand? The short answer is: I am not sure.
Is it because I feel that most of them employ the same interior designer?
Or is it because most of them still charge me extra for local phone calls? (Just plain silly, isn’t it?) What I know for sure is that I spend more money in one day at any of the above hotels than I do on my coffee habit in an entire year.

Just when I thought that, for now, I’ll have to be content with the status quo, something happened during my recent stay in Banff that made me rethink the whole favorite-hotel thing. It was sudden and it took me by complete surprise. I was walking toward our car in the underground parkade of our hotel we were staying in the early morning, when I noticed a small and unfamiliar object on our windshield. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was a small piece of paper, casually resting on the backdrop of a super clean piece of glass – aka our windshield. On that piece of paper was a short, simple message. And it was the thought and intent behind this message that just might put the Delta brand of hotels on my very short list of places in which, from now on, I seek comfort when I am away from home.

Please click here to see what made me rethink the whole favorite-hotel thing. I know that it’s a small thing, but it tastes truly unique and human. It also shows a great deal of commitment. A commitment to engage people in a manner that reveals to them two things: Yes, we care; and yes, we get it.

*An interesting fact: I ran into Ralph Fiennes from the English Patient in an elevator of the Hotel Concorde Berlin, one morning during my stay there in the fall of 2008. Since it was in the early morning hours Ralph did not recognize me :). Later that day, I found out that he was in Berlin filming the Reader with Kate Winslet.