Last weekend I met 20 friends in Las Vegas to celebrate three birthdays. It was a reunion of sorts. This group of 40- and 50-somethings flew to Vegas from different cities to catch up, celebrate and create memories. We decided that on Sunday afternoon, we’d get a cabana at a Vegas “beach club” (from which there are many to choose) with a DJ and a true party atmosphere.
Vegas is the ultimate spot for anonymity. There are thousands of people at each club, and paying for a VIP space or bottle service doesn’t make you a special or valued customer. It just guarantees you a seat. So when we reserved our space at Drai’s Beach Club I figured we would get just that: a place to sit down in a sunny afternoon environment packed with party people, all paying their way, all equally important. This is not a new occurrence for our group – we’ve partied together in many cities around the world. We may even be a bit jaded by the service attitude we’ve experienced in these places.
I was so pleasantly surprised at what we experienced at Drai’s that their brand story is forever burned in my memory.
We showed up at the beach club early, and my husband and I made arrangements for the waitress to use our credit card for the day. Her name was Jaia. I expected her to take the card, charge it, and have us sign it. Here’s what she did instead: Jaia sat down with me outside our cabana and asked us about every person in our twenty-plus-member group. She asked who was single and married, where we’d come from, what we were celebrating. She took a genuine interest in us. After she sat down with me, she went inside and sat with each member of the group. She asked, “What’s your story?” She asked, “What are you looking forward to today?” She asked, “Do you have kids? How old are they? What do you do?”
Then Jaia introduced us to every Drai’s Beach Club employee who would touch our group that day: servers, security guards, and busboys. She introduced us by name. She repeated our stories. She joined our group while she served our group. We formed a team with the Drai’s associates.
For six hours, Jaia and her team provided us with the most outstanding service I have experienced anywhere in a club/bar environment. The security guards got to know us by name. They protected our group, picking up bags and sunglasses that were exposed and returning them to rightful owners. They danced with us and told us their stories about immigrating to the US from Russia or what clubs they loved in Vegas. They gave us advice about where to go, who to hear, how to get in and what to expect. This group of six or seven people assigned to our cabana never left our sides. They walked the entire mile in our shoes, and they made us feel like rock stars.
At one point late in the afternoon, ten members of the Drai’s team showed up at our cabana dressed like referees. They had “cheerleaders” (in full costume) sitting on their shoulders. They had created signs with the birthday boys’ names on them, and complete with whistles and a pre-made cheer, they celebrated our group members personally, and by name. They created a scene so spectacular that it took the entire encounter to the next level. Our friends were stunned.
The most moving part of it all? They were having fun, too. The Drai’s employees enjoyed their jobs. They laughed, joked and danced. They smiled all day long.
When the party was over, our group convened in a hotel room and recapped what we’d seen, heard and felt. We were sunburned and spent. But we were so jazzed. Everyone had had an unbelievable day. As soon as the conversation began, it turned to Jaia and her fellow employees. Each member of our group gave a personal account of how these people had touched him or her. Comments sounded like, “I cannot believe the service in that club. Listen what she said to me…” It was the ultimate brand experience. It was an absolutely shining example of the magic that can be created when a brand teaches its associates to participate, to connect, to listen, and to make people feel appreciated. Our group members were not talking about the DJ or the cocktails. They weren’t commenting on the hip pool, or the crowd or the kitschy pink velvet sofas. They were talking about the waitress.
Can you find a way to walk – or dance – in your customer’s shoes? Can you join their party? Can you celebrate what’s happening in their lives? Because if you can, you will touch them. And they will tell stories about you for years to come. Make them feel like rock stars, and they may take your story worldwide.