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Could Bottled Water Get Your Senior Living Community to 100% Occupancy?

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By Steve Moran

I spent the weekend in Austin, Texas, for a wedding. Because most of my travel is conference related, and most conferences are in upscale hotels, when I was driving up to the Hampton Inn my wife had booked for the weekend I found myself thinking . . . Meh, Hampton Inn. This was followed almost immediately by thinking to myself, Geez, I'm a snob.

While the room was a little smaller than in a 4- or 5-star hotel, it was fine. The internet was free, as was parking and breakfast. And of course, the room rate was much, much lower. In fact -- even though it was not a big fancy hotel -- by business standards, it was a great stay. However, there was one thing that made it way better than any four- or five-star hotel I have ever stayed in!

A Stupid Bottle of Water

I knew intellectually that Austin, Texas, in August is always hot and humid. But knowing it intellectually and experiencing it are not the same thing. And it was kind of weird since I live in Sacramento, California, where we see a lot of 100+ degree days. However, we do not get the Texas humidity and equally as important, even when we have 100+ degree days, we have 50-60 degree nights.

Every morning I was there I would go out and walk a couple of miles and each day I would come back through the front lobby sweating. Yet, every single time I walked through the front door I was asked if I wanted a bottle of water.  

They asked even though there was easy access to a water fountain. They asked even though there was infused water containers. They asked even though there were pitchers of water in the breakfast area.  

This morning I went out and ran 3 miles and I was dripping wet. My plan was to grab a cup of water and a cup of coffee and go sit out by the pool until I cooled down. The idea of a bottle of water didn’t even cross my mind. I immediately headed to the breakfast nook for coffee . . . only to discover the front desk person was “stalking me” with a bottle of water in case I wanted it.

So Simple, So Cheap, So Impactful

I have no idea how much bottled water they go through in a day. Probably $50 or $100 worth. It was not special, fancy water. It probably came from Costco or Walmart. And yet I found myself thinking that if I had been in a fancy hotel I would have only gotten water at $4 or $5 or $8 a bottle.   

In each of our communities, with a little thought, there are so many things we could do that would make a huge difference and send the message “we really care about you!” to families, prospects, and residents.  

What needs to be noted here is that if there had been bottles of water sitting out for the taking, it would not have been the same. It was the fact that they did not have to do this. It was the fact that a person noticed me and cared enough to offer me the water.

Great job Hampton Inn Austin/Oak Hill! If only every senior living community were like this.

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