You know you’ve become a high value customer or prospect when companies start saying happy birthday – in personal ways. This is one topic I can talk about all day long, cultivation and stewardship. Having worked in the nonprofit world for more than 10 years, and now for the largest nonprofit software vendor for 8 years I can, and do talk about these topics all the time. A few weeks ago I read a post from Gary at View From the Wing about Delta’s data mining practices (which were made public somehow and you too can see what Delta knows about you.) So it’s no surprise to me, at all, that every company, nonprofit and agency I have every given my information to knows it’s my birthday today.
Every year I get the form email saying happy birthday, here’s a 10% off coupon if you spend $XX (I’ve gotten coupons from Bliss and Ulta so far). I get a couple of auto-generated e-cards with cute messages that I’m sure 100,000 other people got too. This year has been different, very different. The number of personal messages and gifts from hotels has actually been quite a surprise. Based on the level of personalization I can tell which brands see me as a high value prospect. So let’s breakdown the birthday wishes
Starwood has certainly gone to the most effort to discover what I like and make their birthday wishes very personal, and plenty. Here’s what I’ve gotten thus far:
From the W Bangkok & my Starwood Ambassador – my favorite drink, a Starbucks cool lime refresher & cupcakes (waiting for me in my room when I checked in) along with a birthday card.
From the W Bangkok – a Starbucks “Happy Birthday” gift card w/a note saying that they hope I use the card to enjoy cool lime refreshers wherever I am (and oh, I have!)
From the Sheraton Siagon Towers – a personal email from the hotel Guest Services Manager (whom I met while visiting in December) with the Director of Sales & Marketing, Director of Food & Beverage, the Executive Chef, and the General Manager all in copy. Also copied the regional Director of Revenue and the Director of Business Development & Marketing.
From my Ambassador – a handwritten greeting card and personal note welcoming me back home after 65 straight nights in Starwood hotels
From the Starwood Social Media team – a Starwood greeting card signed by the members of the team
From Starwood – a box of chocolates! They were very good.
From the Hilton Melbourne on the Park – a personal email from the Spa manager wishing me a happy birthday
From the Hilton London Green Park – an ecard wishing me a happy birthday
Marriott: Nada – I dropped from Gold to Silver for 2013 (though they are offering me the opportunity to buy back my status for 25,000 points.)
Airlines? Nothing. I’m not a high value airline customer. Sure, I fly a lot, but I only buy coach fares and use miles to upgrade. And since I actually know how Delta values me, I’m not surprised I haven’t gotten any personal birthday wishes from the airlines.
The day’s still young, perhaps there are more emails on the way? It will sure be fun to watch and see…but I have to say, Starwood wins this cultivation and stewardship race, by a landslide! I’m sure some people will say I’m getting special treatment as a blogger. And yes, I assume that’s why the Starwood Social Media team sent me a card. However, I stayed over 130 nights in Starwood hotels in 2012, 99 in 2011 and have stayed more than 50 nights a year since 2008. I planned several large events at Starwood hotels in 2012 and spent a lot of money with Starwood. I’m a high value business prospect and kudos to Starwood and the hotels I’ve stayed in this year for going above and beyond to keep my business.