I had to travel all the way across the world to Australia to experience the most memorable customer service experience of my life. It was in Sydney, specifically, at the Old Clare Hotel, a 62-room boutique in the heart of the city’s vibrant Chippendale district. Like many of the hyper-cool neighborhoods in the world’s great cities, Chippendale was once a slum that has transformed over time into a mecca of art, design, and food. I was there during Vivid Sydney, a three-week long arts and culture festival held each May/June that bills itself as “the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas.”
Now, here’s the scenario that produced the aforementioned bit of memorable customer service: The night before I was to fly to Australia, the Golden State Warriors beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in game six of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals, forcing a game seven. Based on everything I’d seen, I knew that game seven would be one that I just couldn’t miss, no matter where in the world I was. So without really thinking too much about it, I tossed a line out on Twitter, hoping that maybe someone who follows me might be able to assist in pointing me in the direction of an American-basketball-friendly bar.
“Now I’ve got to find a bar in Sydney to watch game 7,” I tweeted. “Anyone know of one? I’m guessing the Warriors have some fans there because of Bogut.”
In the past, I’ve found this to be a quite effective recommendation-gathering tool when traveling, but in this case I really didn’t get much help from anyone. I suppose my base of followers doesn’t consist of many NBA fans who’ve traveled to Sydney during the season. “Oh well,” I thought, “I’ll figure it out.” Surely, there would be a way to stream the game online or something. I’d worry about that later, as the next day I was to board a Virgin Australia jet for my 14-hour flight Down Under.
When I checked in to the Old Clare and made my way to my room, I discovered that someone on the staff had apparently checked my social media accounts prior to my arrival and noticed the tweet about a place to watch game seven. My tweet was printed out and framed and accompanying it were some hotel coasters with recommendations listed on them. They also tossed in some facial products from Triumph & Disaster (which I loved) for extra measure. I can only presume that digging though my Twitter archive they must have also noticed that I’m a man who loves a good exfoliation every now and then.
I later learned that this sort of thing is something the hotel does regularly. The Old Clare social media staff will often check the social media accounts of people with upcoming reservations to see if they can spot any way to proactively enhance the guest’s stay prior to arrival. It’s so simple, but so uncommon, and rather genius at the same time. There’s also something about it that’s mildly creepy, but hey, this is the world we live in. In 2017, anything we post online is there for the whole world to see, so why not have merchants that seek to make our lives easier and more pleasurable use what we post to do just that?
With that anecdote unpacked, here are a few more of the things I did/saw/heard/felt when I spent a week in Australia in June of 2016.