Youth hockey tournament reveals lessons in convenience and branding

My family went on a trip to a hockey tournament in Cleveland this past weekend. As many teams do, the families posted an emblem with the family’s surname on the hotel room door so the teammates could find one another.

Turn the clock ahead to the morning of check-out when several families discovered charges to the rooms from the hotel restaurant and snack shop. With the occupant’s last name and room number, other guests were able to charge hotel services to the room. After discovery of the issue by the patrons, the hotel removed the erroneous charges. However, one has to marvel at how easy identity theft is. Hotels try to offer convenience by allowing room charges, yet some people elect to make it a hassle. To avoid problems again in the future, the hotel would have to install expensive key tag systems at the point of sale, require photo ID or password verification or employ some other security protection system. We’ll all have to suffer the inconvenience of these added security measures and the extra cost to the service provider – just one more way to make things more expensive, less convenient and make us feel unsafe and suspicious of others. This was a lesson in life I wish I did not have to learn.

The second lesson was the power of marketing and how being fresh on the mind of potential customers will lead to more sales. As the old adage goes, “right place, right time.” The hotel issues key cards to all guests to enter the rooms and other guest-only portions of the premises. Usually my key card has hotel branding on it. This time, my hotel key card had advertisements for a local store of a national pizza franchise touting how they delivered directly to the rooms. When I first was handed the key card, I rolled my eyes at the yet one more way businesses could advertise to me. fast forward to my second night after a late evening tournament game, a mild snowstorm, and a hungry family in a strange city not particularly interested in leaving the hotel in search of food. The hotel restaurant was available, but it was not a place well suited to families. The cuisine was adult-oriented and the ambience was a quiet fine dining experience.

I remembered the pizza delivery advertised on the key card. This service provider was the solution to my situation at that very moment. Without that key card, I never would have thought about this chain company. I was not familiar with the area and would never know it was operating in Cleveland, nor would it have been my first-choice place to eat. But at that moment in time, having that option in the forefront of my mind made it the top choice. As I ordered, I remarked how this small ingenuity probably brought lots of sales over the course of a year. “Right place, right time” is a powerful message.

Who would have thought that a weekend hockey tournament would offer some serious considerations in the way we live nowadays? More than ever, we have to be aware of our surroundings and of subtle marketing schemes. Did the hotel fiasco ruin my weekend? Of course not. It was just a gentle reminder to be more cognizant of how we may expose ourselves to theft. And the key card was not only a lifesaver to my “starving” children, but it was also a reminder of how effective subtle, creative marketing efforts can be for a business and its brand.