A few months ago, my wife and I went to Las Vegas for a long weekend with a couple of friends. While I, personally, am not much of a gambler, I do enjoy walking through the different casinos, indulging in fine dining, as well as seeing Cirque du Soleil shows. This trip we saw The Beatles LOVE, which I highly recommend.
When it came to dining, we had two fantastic meals. Both places offered great food as expected. However, the experience is what made all the difference in the meals and why I ended up leaving one a fantastic online review, while the other one barely got 2 stars from me.
We ate at Rao’s one evening in Caesars Palace and the next night we dined at SW Steakhouse at the Wynn Las Vegas. Hands down, Rao’s had great Italian food and the best meatball I have ever had. SW Steakhouse, also, had the best steak I have ever enjoyed and maybe even had better food than Rao’s. But, Rao’s was the real winner because of the actual meal experience.
We were just coming out of seeing The Beatles LOVE and had a reservation at Rao’s so we were seated promptly. Their dining area feels like a cozy dining room, so you immediately get a feeling of warmth and family, like someone welcoming us into their home. Our waiter was friendly and even offered my friend a special dish that was off the menu that could be made based on what he wanted. The wine steward was also great. He listened to what we wanted and engaged us in conversation about wine and food, to the point that throughout the evening he came and sat at our table and even brought some extra opened wine bottles from behind the bar for all of us to taste. These bottles would have otherwise been thrown out at the end of the evening since they were not finished, but he thought we would enjoy trying and learning about them. You would have thought our party, our waiter and wine steward were all old friends enjoying a good time together over a good meal and wine. My wife and my friend’s wife got hugs from them when we left (I opted for manly fist bumps).
But, that is really the heart of Rao’s and great Italian food. Family, friends, laughter and good food. And, the experience we had there truly lived up to that and personified Rao’s brand experience.
SW Steakhouse, on the other hand, is a very different experience. Again, we had reservations, but upon entering we got a feeling of overall exclusivity and even a bit of snobbery. In fact, our initial waiter did not even listen to what we described as our preference in wine, which was something like a red blend with lower tannins. Instead, he tried to push us into a big Cabernet at a big price tag. And, when we turned down that option, he definitely displayed a little bit of attitude and seemed put off. Regardless, we continued dining, got a reasonable bottle of wine and I enjoyed what was probably the best steak of my life. But, due to the experience, we skipped dessert and post-dinner drinks.
If SW Steakhouse’s experience was more friendly versus exclusivity, they probably would have had our business a lot longer. For all I know, that exclusivity could very well be part of what they wish to portray as their brand. And, that would be OK if it was translated properly into their feet on the ground experience with their staff. Plus, they probably would have received a better review from me on Google, OpenTable and Yelp. As it is, Rao’s got my five-star online reviews!
How to Use This Information
While your product may be what you sell, it may not be the reason people return to you or advocate on your behalf. People want experiences that go deeper and allow themselves to be immersed with your brand. That is the cornerstone of experiential marketing and why it is so important to create and foster ongoing advocacy. If you want to create experiences that create memories and live up to your brand, we can help. Call us at 303-300-2640.
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