Can Hotels Read Minds?!?

Filed Under: Hotels

Last week I wrote a post entitled “Hospitality Happens At The Margins.” The post was based in part on a Bloomberg interview with a Starwood VP, who was emphasizing the importance of basically “customizing” stays, because apparently 2% of their guests generate 30% of their profits. I explained that a large portion of my perception of travel brands isn’t shaped by the 90% of the time that stuff goes as planned, but rather the few times that an employee goes out of their way to make me smile.

I gave the example of the hotel I frequent more than any other — the Grand Hyatt Tampa — and how they surprised me last week with a welcome amenity consisting of Diet Coke with lime and nuts. I’ve always chosen points as the amenity at this property so certainly wasn’t expecting that. Not only was it a great gesture as such, but the attention to detail is what really put a smile on my face — the limes, the fact that it was Diet Coke rather than Diet Pepsi (which is the Hyatt brand standard), and the nuts. Those are three of my favorite things!


Now here’s something that actually made my jaw drop.

I’ve spent the past four nights at the Walt Disney World Dolphin in Orlando, and they had a decent breakfast.

The downside to the breakfast was that it was character themed, which made me want to cry, frankly.


The highlight of the breakfast buffet, though, was the “top it yourself” yogurt parfait bar. They had yogurt, and then you could add as much granola and berries to the yogurt as you wanted, to basically make your own parfait.




Literally this morning at breakfast I mentioned to a friend how much I love yogurt parfaits. I don’t think I’ve ever publicly professed that before, for what it’s worth.

Fast forward to this afternoon, when I checked into the Grand Hyatt Tampa, and a few minutes after I get to my room, I receive the below amenity.


Creepy awesome, coincidence, or creepy awesome coincidence? 😀

  1. I think this confirms that you unfortunately are received preferential treatment as a blogger. After your experience on SQ and other recent unusually amazing service postings, me and other commenters thought it might be better service because of who you are, but I think that this confirms it.

    Not saying that this is anything negative on your part, but now I think we the readers need to read your reviews with the understanding that “YMMV” when we fly the same airline or stay at the same hotel….

  2. Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and some others, actually do kinda of spy on guests. With the idea of offering a customized experience. It usually starts with a picture of you being attached to the reservation. So, when you arrive, everyone knows your name, what you like and so on. It is easy with a little searching to get many peoples’ pictures.

  3. I agree with Jon to a certain extent. But how would they know that he prefers yogurt parfaits?

    But that much said, I think hotels might track spending/dining habits of their regulars as well. I’ve had an interesting experience in a hotel that I frequent on a pretty regular basis (either to staycation or for dining purposes), they seem to know their regulars well. They know I like my apple crumble, Tanqueray + Tonic, and certain champagnes. Regardless of where in the hotel I actually am or which establishment I was going to – they almost always ask if I would like these items brought to me….

    I’m definitely not a blogger, but I am a regular to that establishment. I guess that lucky would get similar treatment based on being a regular….

  4. So… Influential travel bloggers get preferential treatment?!? #shocker

    I’m not saying it’s wrong… It makes sense. I find it naive to make a post about it, though, referring to them as mind readers… You’re most likely on a list somewhere.

  5. I think as you are becoming more and more of a travel celebrity and with all these airlines and hotels who probably have alerts in their systems to flag your reservations, your blog will become much less relevant for the rest of us as we are not on the same boat and we will never experience the preferential level of service you receive.
    Singapore provided you with better service in biz than they give travelers in suites, now this hotel and who knows what else… Do you really think it’s all a coincidence? Hmmmm….

  6. Not mind readers – blog readers! You’re receiving special treatment that you’ve earned by being a very frequent guest. You would get special treatment even if you weren’t a blogger. I did when I was a very frequent guest at the Westin Riverwalk in San Antonio. It’s smart business.

  7. @Lucky — You’re a smart guy. You know very well that it’s preferential treatment, because you’re a blogger (as everyone above stated). You’re clearly being stalked. Every hotel chain by now knows that you’re spending a year living in hotels and they’re using you as free advertising. Enjoy it while it lasts — there’s no shame in that — but don’t be naive (I know that you’re not). More importantly, make sure you remain objective (i.e., don’t let a parfait make you forget about that rude concierge or whatever).

  8. On a side note, did you take that picture of goofy or is that some stock photo? That’s a cute photo!
    (I’m still a huge fan of Disney)

  9. For what it’s worth, I had comparable service to lucky the very first time I flew SQ J on the A380 in 2009, and I’m not a travel blogger. We has similarly amazing experience last year on SQ from KIX to SIN. Just saying I wouldn’t be so skeptical when airlines and hotels try to provide top notch service to customers in premium cabins.

  10. Love the blog! I’m a daily reader however I agree with the others. It sounds like preferential treatment because you are a travel blogger. Remember to “keep it real” because we do love the honest reviews and reports. Thank you for your dedication to the blog.

  11. @John: Perhaps you should work on your reading comprehension.

    “Literally this morning at breakfast I mentioned to a friend how much I love yogurt parfaits. I don’t think I’ve ever publicly professed that before, for what it’s worth.

    Fast forward to this afternoon, when I checked into the Grand Hyatt Tampa, and a few minutes after I get to my room, I receive the below amenity.”


  12. @Lantean, I agree with Dylan. I just flew SQ J a day or so before Lucky published his opinion on his flight and I concur everything he has written. While the service may not be super attentive as when I flew SQ Suites, still SQ J is downright amazing.

    I believe that Lucky may be flagged as travel celebrity and receive better services than the rest of us mere mortals, and being positively cautious is good…but in the case of SQ, from my experience it’s not an isolated case.

  13. This sounds more like the individual hotel working off their customer database to make you happy.

    I had recently been staying often at the Hilton on the Park MEL. After the second stay (within two weeks), I cold see the staff in the restaurant adding details about me into their CRM software. On the next stay, they already knew my coffee order.

    This stuff isn’t difficult to do with just a bit of data. Your blog makes it easier for them but they can do it for others once people have stayed long enough.

  14. “Can Hotels Read Minds?!?”

    No, but they can read blogs…and Facebook…and Twitter…and Instagram…

  15. It’s already been said, and it’s true. I have a friend who works with the social marketing agency for a big US airline. They follow all of the social feeds of their highest value customers – Twitter, FB, Instagram – to keep their own data current on likes, dislikes, needs, etc.

    Big data is a double-edged sword.

  16. @Dylan and @P: SQ service is amazing, nobody is questioning that — and it’s amazing for everyone. What’s being discussed here is different: the very specific tailoring of services to one specific guest. I.e., having his favorite drink and snack waiting for him in the room, not just any random drink and snack. If I remember correctly, he once even had a picture of him waiting in the room. Now THAT was pretty freaky. 🙂

  17. I think it’s great they did that! I was pondering that particular Grand Hyatt in Tampa for a while…but we instead stayed 5 nights at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta for a mini vacation close to home. Now my interest is peaked again. You run a great blog.

  18. @ Jon — Funny enough I actually followed up with a contact at Singapore that’s a friend of mine, and he specifically said that I didn’t receive any sort of special treatment/the crew didn’t know I was a blogger.

    So that’s one of the fun parts of being a blogger, I guess. If I have a bad experience, I’m called whiny and am told to stop complaining, and if I have a good experience I’m told it’s because I’m a blogger.

  19. @ Lantean — I get better service in business class than I’ve received in Suites Class because I had an especially good crew. There was no preferential treatment there, which I know for a fact. So yes, I don’t just think it’s a coincidence, I *know* it is.

    Remember how last year I had a Singapore flight from Singapore to Seoul in first class with horrible service?

    Singapore all comes down to the people…

  20. While I think many might believe Lucky is getting preferential treatment in the end is the day it comes down to the staff. For those that have flown SQ in their premium cabins knows how attentive the service is. As for his stays at the GH Tampa I am guessing his frequent stays over the years have caused many of the front desk staff to recognize him hence they go above and beyond for him. I say this with confidence as I have experienced this myself with SPG at a hotel I have visited on an annual basis for the last 10+ years. At this property there a handful of staff who remember me by name without having to see my ID first, know my room preferences, and amenity choices so I don’t believe it is isolated. I am sure others get this type of treatment where they frequent often and if you read on the IBB you will see that.

  21. @Steven L. Shut up you troll. It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out, regardless of whether it was “professed.”

    “Then there was a fridge with greek yogurt, yogurt parfaits, and fruit.”

    “Next I was offered a muesli parfait, which was also delicious.”

    “I met a local friend for breakfast, given that I can easily get away with free breakfast for two. In true United fashion, we had a fruit plate and omelet. I had the fruit plate (and ordered a yogurt parfait on the side), while my friend had an egg white omelet, which came with toast. The omelet was $14, the fruit plate was $9, and the yogurt parfait was $7.

    The yogurt parfait wasn’t particularly good (maybe it’s just that I don’t like plain yogurt), but the fruit was fresh and I’m told the omelet was tasty. Altogether the breakfast came out to about $40.”

    “So far I see the pros and cons. I love having less responsibility in many ways. My bed is automatically made, I have access to a club lounge where I can have all the (usually watery and mediocre) cappuccino that my heart desires throughout the day, and fruit/yogurt in the morning and appetizers in the evening.”

    This took all of 2-3 minutes to put together. This is literally the dumbest “argument” I’ve ever been involved in.

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