I had to pee since 8AM. It was just past noon when I made my way to the restroom at a Hilton – it was the airport Hilton. Everyone seemed friendly enough as I shuffled past them. Inside, the restroom was glorious – stately gray marble and glass – and exceptionally busy. I scanned the urninals – all taken. The stalls – feet visible in each one. Well… almost. The handicap stall, the presidential suite of restroom stalls, was open. I headed straight for it. Already my bladder was rehearsing its acceptance speech for surviving so long. But as I rounded the corner of the stall, an arm shot out and blocked me.
“Sir!” It was the restroom attendant. I was frozen, baffled – this was surely a joke. Sensing my confusion, he continued, “This stall is reserved for our platinum and executive platinum members.”
In my bafflement, another gentleman, flashing a member rewards card, slid past us into the stall.
“Welcome back, Mr. Johnston,” the attendant said with a warm smile.
I don’t need to describe what happened next. Well, okay… none of this really happened. BUT don’t think we’re too far off from there. Take a look at airports. The only way to get an any perceived value of customer service is to have “elite status.” Even for people with “status,” there seems to be a diminishing return. The number of rewards members grows, and the number of service staff decreases. If everyone is elite, no one is elite.
But I got to thinking (quite dangerous, my wife likes to remind me), and wondered what the “status” system might look like for some of our most frequented locations and commodities.
Burger King – Whoppies Gold Members receive unlimited ketchup, in addition to free upgrades for every 1000 in Whoppies Bucks.
Starbucks – Bucks This members are never corrected for saying Medium instead of Grande. Also, when presenting your Bucks This card, café staff will all stop and do the Bucks This line dance, followed up with a slow clap, making you feel mutha effin EPIC.
Griffy’s Pub – clean mugs for anyone with status. Plus television remote access for Premium Elite.