February 21, 2013

UPDATE: Atwal Makes a Friend...and a Sale

I'm off next week on a small road trip - meeting with a client in Ontario, visiting my favourite aunt and uncle, then spending some time with a friend from Toronto. I know my tolerances... I'm good for about four hours of highway driving, not more. So I decided to stay in Belleville on the way out and Napanee on the way back; two towns I'm not overly familiar with.

Google maps lets you zero in on any location and identify nearby hotels, restaurants, etc. It located a small motel near Belleville that had a lot of good customer reviews. I called for prices, and asked what the room was like. My new buddy Atwal told me that it was a nice room with a queen-sized bed, free WiFi and many conveniences nearby.

"Is there a coffee machine in the room?" I asked. My morning ritual of writing for a few hours while consuming a pot of coffee is rather sacred.

"No," explained Atwal, "but there is a Tim Horton's right across the street (and for the record, what they serve at Tim Horton's is not coffee, as far as I'm concerned, although I know that people line up for it, it's one of the seven mysteries of the world I'm trying to solve). You can get a coffee there."

"Oh, no," I said to Atwal, "My morning coffee is so important!" Ever the open-exchanger of information, I told Atwal that all I wanted to do in the mornings was to get writing and drink a pot of coffee before I even thought about going out into the world.

Atwal was ready with a solution. "I come in very early," he said, "I can bring you a coffee, no problem."

I laughed, thanked him, and hung up. I was thinking I would just take a room at a chain hotel, like the Comfort Inn or the Best Western... the ones with coffee machines in their rooms.

But really? I was sitting with a smile on my face because someone had made me laugh, and I was turning away from the offer. When did I become so inflexible? Plus, it occurred to me that this type of customer service is fast disappearing. Atwal cares about the quality of my visit, is willing to go out of his way to please (the room rates were the lowest I found, anyway), and seemed quite sincere.

So the Avalon Motel will get my business, I will get to meet Atwal, and I will get dressed and go out for my coffee in the morning. Big deal. Good customer service is priceless. Of course, it remains to be seen what awaits me...

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