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21 Bennett’s Hill,
B2 5QP

Service lessons from rugby.

Ok, so it sounds like one of those clickbait-shite titles – but trust me, it’s true.

Well, partly. Read on…

I was super lucky that for Christmas last year, from my wife and in-laws, I was given two tickets to the England vs. Italy 6 Nations rugby match complete with an overnight stay at the Marriott that sits within the stadium.

The cherry on it all was childcare all day Sunday and Monday – giving us selfish time for 24hrs.


So my wife and I hopped on the 9.30am train to London and a few hours later we were checking in to the Twickenham Marriott.

I love a Marriott, they just get things right.

I walked up, said who I was and within seconds the chap pulled out an envelope with my name on, printed with England vs. Italy. Inside were our room keys (pre-coded), room number card and two VIP wristbands to access the rugby bar, because we are Marriott card holders.

I didn’t ask for that last bit, nor did I pay for it. It was just given with a smile.

Great start huh! Off to the bar we went.

Everything went off perfectly after that. The drinks flowed, the queues at the stadium ran smooth, the seats had an epic view and England won.

Bosh, done.

After the match, we decided to go back to our room, freshen up (AKA drink some water!) and ready ourselves for the evening out in Twickenham.

We got in the room and there resting on the corner of the bed was not the usual ‘towel folded like a swan’ that so many places do. Why put a towel in the bedroom, put it in the bloody bathroom where I use it!

I digress.

It was a Marriott-branded, replica Gilbert match ball with the date, match info’ and year printed on the side. A small note saying it was for us, a gift from the hotel in celebration of the win.


Could it get any better?

We headed back down to the lobby and into the lower bar. It’s a little busy but what else do you expect. Over walks a gentleman from the hotel.

“I saw you are both staying here, would you like to find a table, let me know what you’d like to drink and I’ll bring it over?”

“Better still, there’s plenty of space upstairs in the guests bar, head up there and I will find you.”

I mean, what? This guy has eyes like a hawk.

The evening just went up another notch.

After all the years in this sector, you’d think I’d know better. Nope, sucker

But in the morning, the trip took a nose dive…

At 6:30am I was woken by thumping and someone shouting and screaming.

I came to, and realised there’s a very noisy spin class going on in the gym next door – the bloody Virgin Active coach was being ‘too active’ at that time on a Monday morning…

I couldn’t sleep any more, and being wide awake I headed to reception to ask if this can be dealt with.

30mins passed while I have breakfast alone (my wife sleeps more heavily than I do) before the hotel manager turned up.

“Sorry, I have tried but they won’t do anything about it.”

That pissed me right off.

Not the lady from the hotel but the coach in the gym. I mean come on, I am sure she asked nicely but who needs some fool shouting at the top of his voice playing house music to get the benefit of a workout?

I workout 3 times a week, and nobody shouts and screams at me… aside from my muscles the next day!

The lady also old me this has happened before…

So I resigned myself to the fact that my planned lazy morning is shot to pieces.

We checked out later and yet again the hotel manager was there apologising. I told her it’s not her fault, but she insisted that breakfast is on the hotel and 25% is taken off the bill but only if we promised to come back again so they can show us how they usually do things.

Umm… why not.

Back at home I was reflecting on this when an email lands from the hotel, saying yet again that they want to make it up to us, want to welcome us back and to call Ellie, the hotel manager, directly and we’ll be looked after.

And guess what? I am going back, without doubt.

With such attentiveness and willingness to look after their most valued customers, Marriott have shown what it takes to run a service business.

Nothing they did is rocket science but they’ve got me – hook, line and sinker.

What’s your rugby ball moment?

To me, they Marriott is the perfect hotel brand and for what? Just doing their job but with some tasty little twists.

It goes to show that when brands just do what they should and add some tiny flourishes, we are blown away.

Even when the shit hits the fan.

After all the years running a service-led business, you’d think I’d know better. Nope, sucker.

Excellent service is not hard.

It’s actually easy when it’s thought about and really very nice to deliver for those involved. Who doesn’t like someone smiling at them?

If you work at a brand, think about the service you receive from your agency partners: do they give you a ‘rugby ball moment’ / ‘wristband touch’ / ‘let us show you how we roll proper’?

It’s not the money, it’s the thought that counts.

Heard that before?

Thought so.