I’m staying in an economy chain hotel that has no doubt seen better days. Although this place is clean and well-kept, I can still feel its age. The thermostat is the mechanical kind in the self-contained heating unit rather than the slick, digital keypad on the wall. The bathroom is tiny with a countertop the barely surrounds the sink. The bathroom fan comes on automatically with the light, and it’s loud and obnoxious. My spoiled side found itself slightly disappointed when I checked in, but the place is close to where I need to be, it’s clean, and it offers free breakfast. The price is right, and I still consider it to be a good deal.

After I had been here for a night, I noticed something that made me appreciate the place more. Every pillow carries an embroidered label on the sham, declaring its level of support. On each of the two beds in my room, two firm and two soft pillows have been neatly positioned. As the person who tests every pillow in a hotel room to find the best ones to carry me to slumber, I think this idea is pretty close to genius. All I have to do is look at the corner of the sham and I know what I’m getting.

I think this idea is pretty genius from a marketing standpoint, too. Other than making sure the right shams go on the right pillows when the linens are changed, there’s not a lot of effort involved on the hotel’s part. They order the shams–which probably don’t cost much more than the standard version–and off they go. No extra maintenance or daily expense. Someone had a neat idea that, for very little incremental expense AND effort, now plays a role in the hotel’s customer delight factor. Even if a customer doesn’t notice it, there’s no real loss.

I love the idea from the marketing side as much as I love my firm pillows. And I also developed a bit of a soft spot for this hotel because of it. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to make a difference.

Oh yeah, and they have free cookies, too.

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