What Makes All the Difference on a Business Trip…

I am sitting on the 22nd floor of my hotel room in Santiago wanting to catch up on my writing and talk about my trip to Valparaiso, Chile, catch up on earthquake impacts to a trip to the lake district, and other discoveries about Santiago.  But I’m too distracted.  Too distracted with work.  With getting to the U.S. for most weekends and hurrying through keeping in touch with those I love back home.  With planning a vacation with a cousin to Bulgaria and Denmark with a 1-day trip to say hi to a friend in Sweden.

But what is compelling me to sit in front of the PC for yet another 1/2 hour is wanting to talk about those people who are strangers to you for the most part but who make your time away from home -at a hotel in another city other than your home- get as close to “real” as you get when on business trips.

I normally haven’t had my own access to the “special” lounge at my regular Santiago hotel (Marriott) but get access normally by going with colleagues who do have access.  Of course, after this week, I get access on my own right because of reaching the 50 stays in one calendar year.  Anyway, through past visits, we have met some of the staff at this special lounge.  Some are strict about the rules that say at 830 PM the wine and other liquor is retired from access.  And then there are those employees who seem to get that we all don’t just come to another country on business because we work 9 to 5 and have the luxury to get back to the hotel between 630-830PM to enjoy the special treats…

Those employees who realize that the key to great customer service is about making us, the weary travelers, have a sense that we can get that one (or two…) free glasses of wine at a lounge so we can sorta feel maybe we could be at home.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have sat in the lobby and paid for drinks when able to go to the special lounge at the “right” hours – the scene at the lobby can be quite interesting.  So I am not just after a free drink or two or three or…  But going to the lounge does also give you contact with other human beings who recognize you and through the small talk make you feel you are not just a stranger, a number, a credit card at this hotel.

So, to these folks I say, salud.  You are doing an awesome job and I hope your employer, Marriott, realizes that you are doing more to retain my loyalty than even the ability to use my points gets them.  Emilio, Fernando, Katherine, Baruk:  may your employer realize the value you are to them and I wish you the best.  Thanks for helping us feel not totally away from a place like home. You guys are piola.

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