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SPOTLIGHT ON Colin Cowie, CEO, Colin Cowie Lifestyle

By Sharon Hirschowitz, Global Head of Media & Communications for The International Luxury Hotel Association
2 September 2021
4 min read
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Customer service, programming and setting your brand apart from the noise are imperative to creating a successful message. Colin Cowie talks about the return of celebrations and his latest book, The Gold Standard: Giving your Customers What They Didn’t Know They Wanted.

If anyone has had to pivot this year it has most certainly been you. What has been your focus the past year and how will it reflect in your future work?
Colin CowieWhen the event industry came to a halt, we pivoted our efforts to help businesses revamp their guest experiences. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that customer service and programming is more important now than ever before. On a mission to become a leader in hospitality brand elevation, we launched Thrive Hospitality as an official extension of Colin Cowie Lifestyle.

Thrive Hospitality helps brands build guest loyalty and a distinct signature guest experience by raising standards with big picture programming, interior design, and all guest touch points. This way brands can set themselves apart and keep customers coming back for more.

Looking ahead, I am confident that customer service will remain paramount to business prosperity across the board. If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business. The Gold Standard of service, the skill set that we have practiced, refined, and are now sharing, is—and will continue to be—the ticket to success.

Are you seeing a turnaround in events? What are clients looking for?
Yes! I am so happy to finally see the event industry is reviving—and with a bang! Between the surge of previously postponed events being rescheduled to the thrill of finally being able to socialize less than six feet apart, it seems like everyone is on the fast track to plan something spectacular. The problem is we have a major shortage of venues and dates as almost two years of entertaining has been on hold.

People want to feel comfortable and taken care of, and the pandemic protocols created a new set of expectations: they showed people how they should be taken care of, and what it feels like—and doesn’t feel like—to be comfortable in a space. It is my responsibility to exceed this elevated standard, which means accounting for the smallest of details and giving customers what they didn’t even know they wanted.

Colin Cowie

Your book, The Gold Standard: Giving your Customers What They Didn’t Know They Wanted, details a clear strategy for businesses on all levels to create memorable customer experiences. Can you tell us about some of what they can expect to learn?
The Gold Standard: Giving your Customers What They Didn’t Know They Wanted explains how to create a culture that can cultivate the most authentic customer experiences that resonate with clients and guests. In some ways everyone is in the service business, and this is an essential guide that anyone in any business organization can learn from, whether you’re a shopkeeper, corporate marketing director, or a budding event planner.

Through a series of first-person anecdotes, I describe the power of proactive—not reactive—service and the importance of building lasting emotional connections, along with many other strategies to make sure customers leave with smiles on their faces and plans to return.

What advice can you give hoteliers, in particular, as business travel and events start to return?
I would advise hoteliers to focus on guest experience and value. Our industry was stripped of all amenities and now it’s time to come back and pay back with a healthy and robust guest experience. The expectations for customer service are like nothing we have experienced before, and everyone needs to pivot and adapt to stand out in the highly saturated market. That is why I wrote The Gold Standard: Giving your Customers What They Didn’t Know They Wanted.

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