Walk by most grand “5 star” hotels in the evening and you’re likely to see a host of luxury cars - ushering guests to dinner, for a sightseeing tour or otherwise. Most hotels contract luxury chauffeured services for their guests whereas a small few will have their very own house or courtesy car for guests.
I took the opportunity to call up a good number of luxury hotels to inquire about dedicated “house” cars for guests. I ended up learning quite a bit from these calls. Beyond the car, I found that many hotels employed a recorded phone system and for those calls that were picked up by a human, 90% needed to be transferred to the concierge to answer. Was the staff member ill informed or just uncomfortable answering a barrage of questions that may have followed my initial request?
Ok back to the cars…
Of those called, the following replied in the affirmative:
The Dorchester - Mercedes S Class
The Connaught - Mercedes S Class or Viano after 5PM
The Beaumont - BMW 7 Series Hybrid EWB
The Ritz - Rolls Royce Custom Phantom EWB
The most intriguing reply came from The Beaumont. Being a guest engagement professional, I am keenly interested in knowing more about this hotel’s brand narrative. Do they have a focus on sustainability or are they recognized as an eco hotel? Perhaps they just don’t want to be like the other hotels? I will most definitely explore this in a future piece about The Beaumont hotel.
BMW 7 Series Plug-in Hybrid, House Car of The Beaumont Hotel. Photo courtesy of The Beaumont Hotel
Now back to the title of this article. I’m often walking past the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel - it’s a stone's throw away from the British Library. Over the course of several months, I keep seeing a flashy pink car parked alongside its driveway. At first glance, I thought it was surely a guest’s car who had the means to ensure it was at-the-ready. But now, my mind is associating it with the brand narrative of the hotel; I have now come to expect that this car must be a house car and that the hotel’s personality includes bold, flashy, unique and is demonstrated through various relevant touchpoints. Is the hotel provoking one to be intrigued? Am I correct in my assumptions? The truth is, it really doesn’t matter since a (prospective) guest’s perception is their reality. The longer an inanimate object is associated with a hotel (in this case the parked car), the more likely it is to be perceived as a part of a brand narrative.
My take home - hoteliers need to be consistent with what you are trying to communicate. A car is just one touchpoint among thousands that guests may engage with along their journey with you. Have a statement to make? Show it. But at the same time that statement needs to be woven into your storyline.
Oh and that flashy pink car? It is not a house car. All the concierge would disclose is that it’s a guest’s car, and oh, it’s a McLaren.
Any thoughts you’d like to add to this article or on guest engagement in general, please feel free to comment or get in touch with me.