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Hospitality…delivered on a bus

I talk all the time in my seminars about the power of stories, especially those that come from our customers. While I know we sell the benefits and features of our product or service to others, I believe it is the stories that our customers tell that not only resonate with us but validate the potential product or service we may be thinking about getting. Such is the case with this story. A story about a bus, and its driver, who made someone’s mother feel valued, special, and appreciated. And it’s generating a wonderful story from this speaker, who also happens to be her son.

My parents live in a senior living/assisted living community, and have done so for four years now. A few months ago my dad fell in their apartment and fractured his shoulder. He needed to go to a Skilled Nursing/Rehab community to get the care and therapy he needed, and the community was about 15 minutes away from where my parents live. My mom doesn’t drive any longer, so it was up to me to take her there a few times a week to see my dad.

Since my mom was now in her apartment by herself, we encouraged her to get involved in the many activities their community was doing during the day for the residents. One of them was an afternoon Scenic Drive around their community. She signed up for it and was excited to go on the drive. It was scheduled for 2 pm. Around 4:30 I called her to see how the ride went.

“I didn’t go”, she told me. At first, I was a little upset and disappointed on hearing this, and I asked her “why”. She said excitedly, “Wendy took me to see your father instead!”

I was shocked and happy at the same time. A short while later I found out the details.

It seems that no one showed up for the scenic ride at 2 pm. even though it was promoted and residents signed up for it, except for my mom.

Wendy is the Activities Director of this community, and she is always busy. But now she had something all of us get very little of…a free hour of time! And Wendy could have done the “customer service thing” with my mom by telling her, “Sorry that no one showed up. I let everyone who signed up know about it a few times. I don’t know why they’re not here. There will be another ride coming up soon, and I will make sure you are the first one signed up”!

She could have done this…but she didn’t. Instead, she decided to take my mom on the bus to go see my dad! What was supposed to have only been a 45-60 minute scenic ride, turned into a 90-minute wonderful experience for my mom, and ultimately, her son. They drove 15 minutes to the Skilled Nursing community, let my mom spend close to an hour with my dad (and her husband of 58 years), then brought her back. Wow!

When I heard all of this, I immediately contacted Wendy to thank her. And I had to ask her…why did she do this? Her answer was simple. “I knew that your mom was missing your dad, and I knew that you were out of town with your speaking engagements. I wanted to make your mom feel special and I had the time now to do it.” It worked as my mom didn’t stop talking about it for a few days to me and a few of her friends.

My question for you is – How many Wendy’s do you have on your team? Would they do something similar to show Hospitality to a customer, and make it all about them, so that your customer would feel more valued, special, and appreciated?

If so, I believe this is how our stories form and get noticed. I’m doing it right now through this blog.

Remember this- customer service can bring people into your company. The challenge we have today though is that no one remembers ordinary service.

But showing and living hospitality...that will bring them back. Just look at Wendy, and her bus.

Bob Pacanovsky is a Keynote & Company Speaker and Trainer. He works with companies and organizations that aim to achieve the highest levels of Hospitality and Service Excellence to attract and retain more customers and employees. His programs are customized to meet the needs of his customers and he strives to always look for ways to deliver a Black Tie Experience. He can be reached at

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