We entrust every single Ritz-Carlton staff member, without approval from their general manager, to spend up to $2,000 on a guest. And that’s not per year. It’s per incident. When you say up to $2,000, suddenly somebody says, wow, this isn’t just about rebating a movie because your room was late, this is a really meaningful amount. It doesn’t get used much, but it displays a deep trust in our staff’s judgment. Frankly, they could go over that amount, with the general manager’s permission.
The concept is to do something, to create an absolutely wonderful stay for a guest. Significantly, there is no assumption that it’s because there is a problem. It could be that someone finds out it’s a guest’s birthday, and the next thing you know there’s champagne and cake in the room. A lot of the stuff that crosses my desk is not that they overcame a problem but that they used their $2,000 to create an outstanding experience.
When a developer goes out to create great gameplay, they’re really only tackling one part of a gaming experience. Everything surrounding it counts, too: the marketing, the customer service, the community interaction, even how people talk about it offhand. All of that is part of the total player experience.
Most game companies stop at gameplay when they think about delighting players. The great developers and publishers of the next decade will grok that the total player experience matters just as much, if not more than, gameplay, and they might think about taking a play from Ritz-Carlton’s book.