Before leaving on our two-week Australian extravaganza, I wrote this post about our InterContinental Challenge. The idea was simple, for months I’ve been highlighting InterContinental for their ground breaking apps and apparent commitment to service above all else and I wanted to test this for myself.
Honestly, I didn’t expect to have a bad time. The test took place at the five-star, amazingly gorgeous InterContinental Melbourne – The Rialto and I knew that it should have been an amazing experience, which of course it was. What took me completely aback was the degree to which InterContinental takes this level of service.
When we travel the hotels we stay in usually run the gamut from 3-5 stars. So far this year I’ve stayed in many more 4-5 star hotels than not, so I thought I had realistic expectations of The Rialto. The one thing I didn’t count on was their chief concierge, James Ridenour.
Most hotels I stay in are fine, even great. No one is unfriendly, and usually they do go above and beyond my expectations. InterContinental apparently has a different definition for this. Before our trip, I reached out to John for some help in planning our itinerary. He at once grasped that I was planning too much and helped fine tune the schedule, as well as confirm a lot of my decisions. More importantly, he gave me a lot of local insight that I needed. Knowing the effects of footy (a sport of some sort) traffic on the tram system was important, and only a local can tell you that. Advanced planning is all well and good of course, but it’s the actual hotel experience that matters most.
From the moment of check in, to the sad morning when we had to leave, I can say without exaggeration that the staff at the InterContinental Melbourne transformed a great trip into an extraordinary one. They treat all of their guests not just as a valued patron, but like a rock star. I watched them interact with a variety of guests over the week and it was extraordinary. How they maintain such a level of upbeatperkihappiness is well beyond me, but they do. A great example of their resilience occurred when I was due to pick up a rental car for our day of exploring Phillip Island and Healesville.
The hotel offers a great complimentary service with certain car rental companies that allows the guest to pick up and drop off their rental car from the hotel instead of traipsing across town. Of course I immediately arranged for this and was excited to have a hassle free day. Things don’t always go to plan though of course, and the rental company dropped the ball – the car wasn’t there. Even though he’d been at work for just a couple of minutes, the concierge scrambled. He figured out first what happened (rental agency’s fault), that we still had a car (we did, phew), and then told the agency he was sending us over in a cab for which they would have to pay. It all happened so quickly I wasn’t sure what was going on, but before I knew it we were at the rental agency desk, they had paid our cab fare and we were getting in the car ready to explore. Overall we lost at MOST thirty minutes, not a big deal at all. We lose more than that when I try to find my keys.
They clearly excelled in the car challenge, but they kept excelling at it. Every time I ran into a front of house staffer, they apologized profusely for the car mishap, looking forlorn. More than once I wanted to give them a hug and tell them that it’d be ok. But this just shines a bright light on how seriously InterContinental takes that commitment to service. It’s part of the company’s DNA.
I also realized how their famous app must have come into existence. Rather than highlight a part of the hotel experience they thought they should highlight, they pointed out an area where they know they truly excel, their concierge and service staff.
There are a lot of nice hotels, a lot of expensive hotels and a lot of lovely hotels. Usually in the luxury realm one is used to high levels of service, and it is almost always given. However, InterContinental takes this even further and creates an overall experience and commitment to each guest’s trip that is truly remarkable, and heartwarming, to experience firsthand.