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A Sweet Surprise from the Pan Pacific Hotel

For the past two days I have taught in Vancouver, British Columbia, where I stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel. When I walked into my hotel room late on Sunday, I found an envelope with my name on it (handwritten I believe, although I do not remember for sure) next to a small box of six chocolates. Here is what the note said:

Dear Ms. Gaertner-Johnston:

On behalf of our 450 associates who are here to anticipate and cater to your every need and request–Welcome!

We aspire to continually be the home you seek when yours is miles away. In short, we strive to provide personalized care because we genuinely care.

We know you have a choice. Thank you for choosing the Pan Pacific Vancouver.

Enjoy your stay!

What is special about this message?

Lots of things:

  1. It is personalized–with my name spelled correctly!
  2. It uses positive language: anticipate, cater, welcome, aspire, home, strive, personalized, care, choice, thank you, enjoy.
  3. It is divided into short, crisp paragraphs.
  4. It's a happy surprise.

The six chocolates, which included four truffles, were rich and delicious. I savored each one. Yet I appreciated the message just as much. I told several people about the chocolates and the message last night and on the job today, and now I am telling the world here. The surprise created a very positive impression of the hotel for me and has led to this free advertising for the Pan Pacific Vancouver.

Of course, any such message has to be authentic and consistent. It was: On Monday I met the housekeeper who was taking care of my room. She greeted me by name. And this morning the breakfast server packed for me a croissant and some fruit to go–without my asking–because I said I had just a few minutes for breakfast.

Can you surprise your reader-customers with a special message and an unexpected kind gesture? Please think about it and tell me how.  

Syntax Training

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.