When Your Hotel Truly Ducks

I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels over the years, and probably so have you.

One thing that really stands out about dozens of these hotels is that….nothing stands out.

Swap the name on the front door and it’s Just Another Hotel.

anatidaephobiaUnless, that is, it has ducks.

So, I stayed at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando this past week*. It’s just like every other high-end hotel, more or less. Except for one distinguishing feature. Trained ducks.

In fact, you cannot escape duck imagery all over the hotel. If you suffer from Anatidaephobia, it’s enough to ruffle your feathers.

The back story is here. And here’s a fun little Animal Planet video about the Peabody ducks. The several Peabody Hotels all feature these trained ducks.

Frivolous? Sure. Unrelated to a good night’s sleep? True. But brilliant branding. For at least 4 reasons:

  1. It’s totally unexpected. I mean, ducks walking a red carpet each day, to luxuriate in a lobby fountain? Huh?
  2. It’s distinguishing. I’ll forget lots of other hotel experiences. A handful of humble quack-emitters being treated like royalty? Not forgettable.
  3. It has a great story behind it (see the link above).
  4. Kids. How many hotels have something that will light up the eyes of a kid (and their paying parents)?

The Peabody was a nice hotel, no doubt about it. But the lesson for us is this: if there isn’t something inherent in what we do that is distinguishing, maybe we need to come up with something arbitrary. Something symbolic, or memorable. Like Doubletree’s fresh-baked cookies upon check-in.

Or maybe just adopt some ducks.

If I ever go into the  hospitality industry, I’m thinking maybe a lobby fountain full of angler fish – who’s with me??

* SPBT Orlando conference summary here on my Impactiviti blog

Cartoon credit: Gary Larson, Universal Press Syndicate


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