The social: Less than an hour after checking into my room at the Westin in Sydney, my doorbell rings. (Wait… I have a doorbell?)

At first, I think I am having auditory hallucinations, which isn’t good. I start to do the math: I left the Greenville-Spartanburg airport on Saturday at 11:05am. Passing through ATL, LAX and SYD, I have flown right through Sunday: It is now 11:23am on Monday. Time zones notwithstanding, that is how long I have been traveling to get here. My brain can’t do simple math anymore. I have no idea how many hours of sleep I have managed to grab in the last two days. Certainly not many. The backs of my eyeballs ache and I am starving.

The doorbell rings again. I go to answer it. Outside my door stands an impeccably dressed hotel staffer holding a small bowl of fruit and an envelope. In the US, she would be well past retirement age. Here, she is one the hotel’s ambassadors, and standing no more than five feet tall in her spotless uniform, she is glorious. She greets me with a warm, genuine smile and a bow. “Welcome to Sydney,” she says, beaming with pride. She offers me the bowl and the envelope. “Anything we can do to help you enjoy your stay, please let us know.”

This is not my typical experience when I check into a hotel. Even one whose rooms have doorbells.

I set the fruit on the desk and open the envelope. It is a note from Mark Burns, the manager, welcoming me to his hotel. Not hand-written, but specific to the reason for my stay. The signature isn’t digital. It is signed in pen. Here it is:


The fruit, by the way, was delicious, and the rest of my stay at the Sydney Westin was as spectacular as that first morning.

The media: A human being. Ink and paper. A bowl of fruit.

No matter how great your Social Media program is, it cannot take the place of this: Rocking your customers’ worlds, and allowing employees to connect with customers like human beings rather than like corporate robots. Start at the core of your business, not along its edges. Engagement, customer loyalty, great experiences and love for your brand aren’t add-ons to be reaped from having a presence on Twitter and Facebook. A presence in Social Media might make you popular and seem cool, but being great there isn’t enough. You must be great across every medium, even the ones that don’t get a whole lot of attention anymore. Perhaps more so.

The social and the medium: Platforms and digital channels aren’t everything.