Two summers ago I booked a room at The Bryant Park Hotel in NYC for a few nights. Just wanted a quick 3-day getaway in NYC for me, my wife and 2 year old daughter. We had never stayed there before, but we liked the location because it was across the street from The Bryant Park Carousel (for my daughter) and convenient to all major subway lines. When I made the reservation, I told the person taking my reservation details that the trip was a treat for our daughter who was turning 3 years old. He said something like "how nice, looking forward to see you and your family." And that was that. Upon our arrival, we were immediately greeted by the doorman, not just with "Welcome to the hotel" but with "Hello Mr. Maida, Hello Mrs. Maida!" We had never stayed there before yet the doorman greeted us by name. I can only assume they knew who we were because we also made parking arrangements for our car--they took note of the make and model during the reservation process. Then, at the reservation desk, they handed us our keycards and said "We thought you'd appreciate a little extra space, since you're traveling with your young daughter. You've been upgraded to a suite." Finally, when we opened the door to our room, there were two "Happy Birthday!" balloons on the table, along with 3 delicious cupcakes from Crumbs Bakery, a birthday card with a handwritten note from the staff, and a small, yet thoughtful birthday gift for our daughter. Now, I can see this happening to a repeat customer who had a history of spending lots of money with the hotel--that's to be expected--but this was our FIRST time ever at Bryant Park Hotel. Yet they proved to us immediately that they value ALL guests, not just repeat customers. And guess what, now we are Bryant Park Hotel customers for life! Why? Not just because of the way we were treated during our first stay with them, but because we have stayed at many, many other NYC hotels previously and NEVER had an experience quite like this. We've been back to Bryant Park Hotel 3 times in the past 2 years, and each time is just as good as the last. They set the precedent, and now they must live up to it EVERY time we stay. And you know what, THEY DO. And here's another thing: last month a friend of mine asked me for a hotel recommendation to take his wife for their 10 year anniversary. I recommended Bryant Park Hotel. My friend sent a quick email to the hotel, and dropped my name as someone who referred him. My friend told me that the director of guest relations sent him a reply email that said, among other things, "Tell Joe I said hello and thanks for the recommendation." I was hoping my friend's experience at the hotel would live up to his expectations based on what I had told him, and sure enough it was. He and his wife loved it--they too received a complimentary room upgrade and had a bottle of champagne on ice waiting for them in their hotel room for their anniversary. So, now the hotel has another NEW happy customer who will likely stay there again and likely tell his friends, too. My takeaway is: RECOGNIZE your customers. Greet them by name, and do it sincerely. Take note of what they tell you about themselves, and if you can somehow work some of that personalization into their experience to make it a more memorable one, DO IT. But remember, if you're gonna go "above and beyond" one time, as a company you've now set the bar, so make sure you can do the same EVERY TIME.