Having inadvertently rolled up to JFK airport a full day late for a flight, I was forced to kill a day in a nearby airport hotel, the Hampton Inn.

There was only one restaurant nearby and it was next door at the Hilton New York JFK Airport hotel, so I headed there for dinner, not expecting too much. I ordered an appetizer and a main course. The appetizer was excellent, however, the shrimp taco main course was too fatty for my liking and so after two bites, I decided that it wasn’t for me and pushed it aside. Monique, my server, realised I wasn’t going to be finishing it and asked if there was an issue. I relayed my thoughts to her and said that, in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have ordered it and that it was my mistake. She very quickly offered to deduct it from the bill. This was certainly not expected, but certainly appreciated.

A minute or so later, Vanessa Connally, a Jamaican national and F&B supervisor, approached me to get my feedback about the meal. Now, typically when I’ve been in situations like this before, the manager will be angling for me to pay for my poor choice which I was happy to do, however Vanessa seemed much more interested in working out how she could avoid this happening to other customers. She was genuinely interested in my experience and feedback, viewing me as a consultant for her business instead of just a whining diner. She saw me as being willing to provide valuable, free, and unbiased feedback about that meal.

Vanessa-Hilton JFK

I was impressed by Vanessa’s maturity (she was in her early twenties) along with her willingness to find out more, so we chatted for some time, touching on some other positive customer service traits I’d experienced at the hotel. After we’d spoken, she moved on to speak to other diners and I gathered from those two encounters, that she was certainly diligent in speaking with as many customers as she could.

Focusing on how customers are reacting allows a switched-on service provider to fine tune their offering, doing more of the things that impress customers, and sorting out the things that don’t work.

I left thinking that this airport hotel was a little different to the ones I’d stayed at previously and, seeing as I’m now telling you about it, Monique and Vanessa’s efforts have certainly paid off positively for the Hilton NY JFK airport hotel.