"They’ve Thought of Everything"
My friend and co-founder (at Batch and Onward) Rob said that to me after checking in to the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. We were making our way down to the lobby to grab a bite before our night in (more on that later).
And it was true: The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel has thought of everything. I detail what we found below, along with some encouragement so you can think of everything in your line of work or startup.
We’d been to the CAA before, stumbling upon its wonderful shuffleboard tables back in June. And when we did, we found a treasure trove of nostalgic goodness. We knew that the next time we came back to Chicago for work, we had one mission: stay and play for a night at the CAA.
Here’s a quick hit of images and what I love about each detail, along with suggestions for you to apply what I learned to your work.
The rooftop bar has bespoke drinks and a fantastic view of the city’s skyline and lake.
Lesson: Take advantage of where you find yourself. The CCA blew the roof off so people can go outside with a drink and take selfies. Your location is unique; take a minute to find out what you can do with it to impress your customers.
The Game Room has billiards, shuffleboard, foosball, and bocce.
Lesson: Give your space an identity. The Gameroom is just a bar, like you’d find in 100 places in Chicago, with beer and food. But calling this a definitive place sets expectations when people come in so they know what vibe to bring with them.
These etched exit and directional signs leave no detail to chance.
Lesson: If you’re aiming to be a luxury brand, or provide exceptional service, then there's no skimping. I found no acrylic signs at CAA. If a company promises responsive and exceptional service, then I don’t want to work my way through a phone tree. Consistency matters.
Want coffee in the morning? It’s included with your room, but you’ll need a token.
Lesson: Create something that surprises people. It would be easy to print small slips of paper, but letting someone feel a wooden token in their hand as they hand it to the coffee clerk will help them feel like they’re part of something special.
That same lesson applies to this bingo card, to which they attach the check when you settle up in the Game Room (because of course they do).
When they give directions for a running route, they give directions for a running route:
Lesson: Everything you make should be branded. These running cards become a keepsake, and they serve as another touch of service when the bellman hands it to you before you run. What can you put your name on that folks will see, keep, and share?
The bottom line is this: you don’t need millions to think of everything. You simply need attention.