First Impressions In Banff?

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Last week I keynoted for the Independent Distributors Association annual convention. Lucky me, this year's meeting was at the Banff Springs Fairmont Hotel in Banff, Alberta, Canada.

Even though Seattle is only a 90-minute flight from Calgary, I'd never been to Banff. I'd heard a lot about how beautiful the area was and always wanted to go there, but hadn't.

The location and vistas didn't disappoint. They were spectacular. But one thing didn't live up to expectations. The Fairmont.

According to the hotel's website: "The majestic “Castle in the Rockies,” located in the heart of Alberta in Canada's Banff National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site has been providing legendary hospitality and unsurpassed dining experiences to guests of our luxury hotel for 125 years."

Well, no, there was nothing legendary about the hospitality. Arriving on Tuesday afternoon, I unloaded my suitcase, briefcase, and golf clubs from the van. None of the hotel bellmen came to see if I needed help. I proceeded up a small incline to the front door, pulling my stuff in front of at least four different bellmen. Nobody said a word or even glanced my way.

Over the course of the next three days I walked out the front door and by the bellmen at least eight times. Not once did any of the Fairmont staff out front acknowledge my existence.

The rest of my time at the Fairmont I interacted with several other staffers. They were all pleasant enough and attentive to my needs. But my entire experience was tainted by the bellmen. My first impression of the Fairmont was of the bellmen and throughout my stay they did nothing to change that impression. In fact, their indifference only enhanced my perception.

I often say it's never the lions and tigers that get you in the jungle. It's the mosquitos. When was the last time you tested your company's first impression (and ongoing, if necessary)? When a customer or prospect contacts you or stops by your business, what is their first impression?

Would I recommend Banff? Absolutely. It's spectacular!

Would I recommend the Fairmont? Probably not. I think I can find another place to stay in town next time.