Can Your Company Pass the Chocolate Pillow Test?

Denis Wilson
Posted on June 13, 2013

During my stay at the Miami Beach Ritz-Carlton while attending the LCT Leadership Summit, I noticed a small detail that I have a hunch is central to the Ritz’s approach to luxury service.

Tired from an early Sunday-morning flight, as soon as I got into my room, I plopped down on the bed to rest my feet for a few minutes. There on the pillow I noticed two pieces of individually wrapped chocolate. One was labeled “dark” and the other “milk.” I happen to have a personal disdain for dark chocolate, so I gobbled down the milk chocolate and left the wrapper there next to the uneaten dark piece.

Now, having chocolate or a mint placed on your pillow at a luxury hotel is pretty standard fare. However, what I wondered was whether the Ritz staff would respond to the feedback I provided about their service. A little test, I thought…

When I returned from the next day’s events, a tidied-up room awaited me. And once again there on the pillow were two treats—but this time, to my delight, they were both milk chocolate.

Though it’s a minute detail, I find this to be incredibly telling of how the Ritz approaches luxury service. It tells me that the Ritz took the effort to learn about me as an individual, and, literally what my personal tastes are. Based on the feedback I provided in the form of an uneaten chocolate, they adjusted their service accordingly.

In essence, the chocolate-on-the-pillow test demonstrates a customer service relationship that is constantly evolving.  My guess is that Ritz employees have either been trained specifically to adjust the pillow chocolate to each guest’s tastes, or even better, their employees are so well trained that they intuitively know to respond to real-time guest feedback.

Either way, I took pleasure in knowing my needs were being attended to, sometimes without having to say a single word.   

— Denis Wilson, LCT East Coast Editor

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