What Nonprofits Can Learn from a Luxury Hotel Chain

My wife and I decided we desperately wanted a “staycation” night right here in Seattle. I had just received an email from Kimpton hotels advertising incredible rates for the weekend. The prospect was too perfect and timely to ignore; we decided to pull the trigger, rent a suite and order room service, and play tourist in our own city. We’d both been very busy at work and felt like we needed a vacation from the holidays already!

I’m a member of the Kimpton loyalty program and would definitely consider myself a fan of the brand. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Kimpton hotels, they are a 4-start boutique hotel chain in select cities across the United States. While they might not be on the bargain traveler’s short list, they have an undeniable level of personality, human interaction and service that makes me seek them out in every city I travel to. 

We made our way to the hotel expectantly. After being warmly greeted at the curb, we were checked in at the front desk and sent off to our room. I was just getting the suitcase put away when I got a knock at the door. A lady with a friendly smile was waiting on the other side and announced, “I have a wine and cheese plate for you guys to snack on as you settle in.” With a confused look on my face, I say that sounds great, but I didn’t order one and I think you might have the wrong room.” Again with a warm smile, “No Mr. Tucker, it’s for you and your wife and it’s on the house!”

Maybe it was the look of our weary faces as we checked in or maybe it was just plain luck, but that wine and cheese couldn’t have come at a better time. It set the mood for our short but very relaxing stay.

Still energized by the experience the next day, I took to Twitter and thanked them for the thoughtful gesture:


Then I got a reply back from both the corporate Twitter account, and both the corporate and regional accounts followed me back:


Talk about a brand experience! I’m feeling like a social media rock star at this point. After doing a little bit of #KimptonKarma hashtag surfing on Twitter I realize that these little gestures of good will are happening all over. More importantly, the guests are loving it and telling everyone they know!

Now I’m not suggesting that you start handing out free wine and cheese to your donors (well…that might work on a case-by-case basis), but I do think the same principle still applies to nonprofits.

So ask yourself, when was the last time you:

  • Engaged your donors on a personal, non-automated level? (i.e. interacting with them on Twitter)
  • Surprised them in some way with fun and uplifting information?
  • Gave new donors the 4-star treatment they deserve, and keep giving it to them year after year?
  • Thanked your donors for their trust and loyalty?

This connected world now requires us to step away from the templates and form letter. It’s OK to have a personality, and yes, EVEN a sense of humor in the serious line of work that we do. Your donors will love you for it, stay around longer and also tell their friends. After all, the nonprofit realm is truly all about making meaningful connections with those who share the same goals of making the world better.

*I received no compensation or incentive from Kimpton of any kind for this article, the superior service is enough!

Brian TuckerComment