Normally, I am a 4-to-5 star hotel guy but in smaller cities, those options don’t exist so I default to a handful of well-known brands, such as Hilton. I can say definitively that the Hilton Hotel in Waco, Texas, is a perfect example of how a single great employee or two can make a business stand out to customers. As long as there are two specific people on staff, if I am ever back in the area, there is no question that the Waco Hilton will be one of my potential homes-away-from-home. If I were staying for an extended period of time, I’d even checkout the Homewood Suites concept by Hilton, as well, giving the brand name credit.
First, let me explain how our experience began. We arrive in Waco three hours early, having already concluded what we needed to conclude in Oklahoma City and Fort Worth. It is probably 4:30 p.m., and by this point, I haven’t gone to bed since waking up the day before, so I am running on 36+ hours of no sleep. I was staying on the top floor club level and, like most places where I stay, the room was set to have an array of fresh fruit, cheese plates, cookies, bottled waters, soft drinks, et cetera already prepared so the people with me could sit around in the room and go over the details of the business we needed to discuss without having to run out and get something to eat.
[mainbodyad]When we arrive, there is a problem with the climate control unit in the room and they need half an hour to fix it. I understand stuff like that happens so it’s not really a big deal. At this point, we were hungry and tired. I just wanted to relax. The manager takes us over to the hotel restaurant, gets the chef, explains what happens, and she makes dinner for us.
Correction: The chef at the Hilton in Waco, Texas makes – this is not an exaggeration – the single best cheeseburger any of us has ever eaten in our lives. Between the four people at this particular table, we have enjoyed some of the best restaurants on Earth. I think the secret was the fact she explained that as many ingredients as possible were sourced from within 50 miles, so the cheese was actually made right there near Waco, Texas. The blueberries were grown there. The beef was raised there. The grains were harvested there. I’ve heard Gordon Ramsey talk about the difference fresh ingredients make but the contrast was so overwhelming I still can’t get over it. I need to track down some farmers in Kansas City and start having them bring their produce directly to my home instead of going through a grocery store.
We finish the meal and go to pay, but discover that the manager had comped the entire thing due to the inconvenience of having us wait for our room. It was unexpected and a nice thought.
We were only in Waco, Texas for a single night but I just cannot get over how brilliantly the situation was handled by the Hilton manager. It is possible that it was the manager who handled our check-in who is brilliant, as well as the specific chef we had during the time we were in the restaurant, and not the hotel itself, since we were only there one night and I have nothing to which I can compare. That said, if I owned some huge property somewhere, I would have tracked down the chef and the manager, offering them jobs and relocation packages on the spot. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember either of their names but I had them written down for me so I could write Hilton corporate and compliment them. They need to be moved higher up the corporate chain.
The most insane part of all of this? My room was only $169 or so for the night. That is crazy cheap! Relative to the facilities and what I got for the money, it was a great bargain. This is why you need to focus on the quality of your employees. It will not be the facilities or the location that I remember – in these smaller cities, they are almost all interchangeable – it was the staff.