Beyond Bold


I'm an assertive, bold, blunt, and direct person. I try to live within the bureaucracies I encounter, but I don't always succeed.

I'm at SD West this week, where I did a half-day tutorial Monday and am presenting two classes (really talks) today. Before I speak/teach/consult, I like to eat a real breakfast, so I don't go for the quick continental breakfast; I need to eat in the restaurant.

The hotel has a small-ish restaurant. The tables are are either set in two's or four's. (Why do hotels do that, when most business people travel alone?) So Tuesday, the wait for a table at 7:30 (peak breakfast time) was 10-15 minutes.

I was sure I could find a friendly face to eat with, so I told the hostess I would look for one. She was shocked and dismayed–and quite unsure what I was going to do. I didn't recognize anyone, so I asked a gentleman sitting at a table by himself if I could join him. I offered to not talk to him if he wasn't a morning person.

He agreed to let me join him, and we had a lovely conversation. We each left with slightly new perspectives.

Having breakfast with a complete stranger is not normal–even for me. But when the hotel imposes a structure that says breakfast must take 45 minutes (yes, it does), and we must seat people with whomever they arrived with, and we must not hurry anyone up, I have no more patience. Hotel breakfasts are not for lingering, certainly not for conference attendees.

The hotel has no idea what business they are–what product they are selling, if you prefer. Yes, part of their product is hospitality. But for conferences, a bigger part of their product is moving people through the system quickly.

When the hotel doesn't provide me part of their product, I'm bold enough (or crazy enough) to make it happen. Any of your customers beyond bold for your products?

Labels: customer, product, requirements

7 thoughts on “Beyond Bold”

  1. In other countries they will seat two single people at the same table and it introduces conversation, or not. I have been very tempted to do what you did, Johanna. I will be a bit more bold going forward.

  2. Did 12 years in Europe with the Army, and became very used to eating with people I don’t know. I always offer in crowded restaurants especially around conferences and trade shows. Most people assume I’m from Mars and avoid it. 🙂

  3. In New York (city) I have found that most restaurants will sit single customers together – no choice about it. Also man Chinese restaurants here in Toronto have the same practice, but they give you a choice first – either share or wait for a table.

  4. Chuck Anastasia

    Hi JR,
    Your experience reminded me of a pizza story with a product management lesson. I started to put it here as a comment, but it was too long, so I created a blog entry.
    Here is a brief excerpt:
    When a group of engineers ordered pizzas with what appeared to be unusual toppings, the proprietor protested, “That won’t come out right – you won’t like it and you’ll blame me!” “It’s OK,” I insisted, “try making one, and don’t worry about how it comes out.” I assured him, “We are engineers, you know we’ll eat anything.”
    I hope you and your readers will visit my link below to read it and let me know what you think.
    Enjoy the rest of your trip to NZ!

  5. They set the table in pairs, so that you will feel guilty, buy more, and end up tipping more.
    The alternative is to turn your table as fast as possible, which may sound like great service, but it isn’t. When the appetizer, the salad, and the entrie show up before I exhaled after ordering, I’m asking for a manager and expecting a comp.
    I used to eat a place where even the counter seats were paired. Of course, I was alone.

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