I wore my widest shit-eating grin as I pushed through the heavy doors of Edinburgh’s DoubleTree Hilton and stepped into the lobby. I’d stayed a couple of times before, so I knew exactly what was coming next.
I showed our booking details to the receptionist and he handed me the room card with directions but I couldn’t focus. He knew why I was really here – why I’d chosen the DoubleTree over any of Edinburgh’s thousands of historic, haunted, unique and boutique hotels – and so did I.
He paused. Teasing. And then he handed it to me: A paper bag, warmed slightly by its contents and exuding a sweet, sugary aroma that made me suddenly ravenous.
My wife must have thought I’d lost the plot as I snatched, then clutched the package protectively like Gollum with the Ring of Power…ah, my precious one…
The Hilton DoubleTree Cookie
For the record, the cookies – yes cookies – handed out at the DoubleTree on check-in are so seriously next-level that people travel internationally to experience their warm, gooey goodness.
In 2019, the DoubleTree cookie was the first food to be baked aboard the International Space Station and The Hilton even designed a full three-course meal around these unctuous little discs of chocolate chip heaven.
They are, by many orders of magnitude, more delicious than anything so simple as a cookie has any right to be.
But let’s give our saliva glands a break for a minute. What’s The Hilton really up to here?
Well, they’re giving residents an unexpected WOW moment – a cherry on top of an already superb stay that elevates a visit from an ordinary night in a hotel to an experience you can’t help but talk about.
It’s the same strategy used by Five Guys when loading your bag with enough fries to feed a mid-sized developing nation. Or the Cheesecake Factory, whose overly generous slices have to be manoeuvered from kitchen to table by crane.
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And if you thought cookies, fries and enormous slices of cheesecake don’t lend themselves to dental marketing, you’d be wrong.
I’ve named this the surprise and delight strategy. And I’ve put together a short video on how you can use The Golden Envelope concept to take word-of-mouth marketing to the next level.
My Golden Envelope Strategy
By the way, on my last stay at the Hilton, I wanted to give my daughter – a recently enrolled student at Edinburgh uni – the gift of a DoubleTree cookie.
At first, the receptionist wouldn’t budge, explaining he couldn’t give out more than one precious baked delight per guest. But I persisted, (okay, I begged and pleaded), laying on every persuasion tactic in the book short of throwing a full-blown toddler tantrum right there in the lobby.
Finally, he relented, slipping not one but four freshly baked cookies into a bag and pressing it into my grubby waiting hands with a knowing smile. “Enjoy your stay”
With that small gesture, our receptionist turned my WOW moment into a DOUBLE WOW moment.
These days, when I want to book a stay in Edinburgh, I skip the price comparison sites and head straight to the DoubleTree website.
I’ve raved to friends, family and strangers in the street about DoubleTree cookies and the receptionist’s act of kindness.
And now I’m telling you.
That should tell you everything you need to know about the potential of surprise and delight to boost word-of-mouth marketing and win lifelong business.