Washing Rental Cars
My friend Julie used to say, “No one washes a rental car before they return it.”
The reason should now be obvious: Avis is not a member of our tribe. I paid for the car, they got the money, they should wash it. It’s a transaction.
Transaction distance parties from each other. The transaction establishes the rules of the engagement, and if it’s not in the rules, you don’t have to worry about it. If I eat in your restaurant tonight and pay my check, there’s no obligation for me to return tomorrow or for you to send me a Christmas card. We had a deal, a deal’s a deal (what a great expression), and we can move on. In many ways, this tribeless relationship brings a great deal of freedom to our commerce and allows things to grow and spread and change quite rapidly.
Consider the alternative: The bellboy who refuses a tip for helping an elderly customer. The doctor who drives out of her way to check on a patient even though it’s her day off. The restaurant owner who sends out a few special dishes to a regular customer and refuses to charge for them.
In each case, the lack of a transaction created a bond between the giver and the recipient, and perhaps surprisingly, the giver usually comes out even further ahead.
Hyatt Hotels is now treating different customers differently. Since they know who their best customers are, they’re working not to charge them more, but to give them more. They’re setting out to randomly cover bar tabs, offer free massages, and provide other services that they could otherwise charge for. If they do it in a corporate, by-the-book way, it’ll feel fake and will fail. But if they empower their employees to actually be generous, it can’t help but work.