When Expectations Get in the Way

I recently took a short trip down to San Diego with my wife and was very excited to try out the US Grant Hotel - a Luxury Collection property in the Starwood chain. I booked it on a cash-and-points rate and was upgraded to a very nice suite, with a separate sitting area and TV. What this post is really about though, is the gift that was waiting for me upon arrival. 

When I walked into the room, I was quite surprised to see a service tray with a bottle of champagne on ice, two glasses and a hotel-branded tin box. The box had a big sign with the number "9" written on it and a kind note from the hotel in front of it. The note read as follows:

We know what you did last year...

You stayed in all of our 9 brands!! This is a little something to celebrate the milestone and to appreciate your loyalty.  Thank you for your continued support and we hope you enjoy living the #spglife @USGranthotel

The Starwood Social Media Team & THE US GRANT

Before getting too far into the story, allow me to share some background. In 2013, reports surfaced that SPG members who stayed at least one night in each of the nine brands (in one calendar year) were receiving gifts. But not just any little gift. The box that people were getting had nine small chocolates - each with one brand logo on it - and was accompanied by a certificate for THREE FREE NIGHTS at any SPG property (up to category five, I believe). Personally, I managed one night in each of the nine brands between January 1st and July 1st, 2013. I must admit I was a bit disapointed when I hadn't received any form of recognition. I made a very serious point of tweeting to @SPG everytime I got closer to the mark, and then had several tweets about having stayed at all nine after the fact. 

To make something very clear, I am in no way saying I deserved anything. In fact, I know I didn't. This is not a published benefit and seemed to be completely random. My problem was, even knowing that information, I was still expecting to get the chocolates and (more importantly) the free nights certificate. Why? I suppose because I'm an idiot. I had heard these stories and though to myself "how many people are really stayin at all nine brands! I'm sure I'll get one of these goodie-boxes." But alas, nothing came. And of course, after January - once I realized I wan't going to get anything - I stopped mentioning it at all in my tweets or bringing it up to other people I spoke to. 

So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw this set-up in my suite upon arrival?! I quicklky opened the tin, excited to see the cool, branded-chocolates and the oh-so-valubale certificate. To my surprise however, I opened the box and found dark chocolate nut-toffee brittle. The feeling of disapointment was was apparent. My wife didnt' know about the whole backstory and was quite shocked to see my reaction to such a kind gift. "Ari, what's wrong? This is so sweet of them!" And that ladies and gentlemen, is exactly the point. 

Sometimes in life we get too caught up in what others have or receive. We build up expectations for things based on little more than nothing. So while I was initially upset to have not received what I was expecting - note, not deserving; big difference! - I took a step back and realized I really do have a great thing going with SPG. I remain loyal to them, and they treat me incredibly well. I get upgraded to suites over 90% of the time, I get free breakfast, lots of points and memories that will last me a lifetime - like my honemoon at the St. Regis Bali (among counless others). And now I was thinking of complaining about an extra perk they were giving me? Shame on me. 

In closing, if anyone at the @SPG social media team is reading, I'd like to say thank you for the generous gifts. They were completely uncessary and I greatly appreciate them and the effort you put in - constantly. Would I mind if a certificate showed up at at my next stop? Of course not.... wink But all kidding aside, I love being loyal to SPG and I can't wait to hit 75 nights again this year; and hopefully I'll be able to reach my goal again of at least one night in each brand!

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