The good news:
Dragging my butt, disheartened by the new "we don’t care, we don’t have to" economy, I showed up at the W hotel in San Francisco. Other W hotels hadn’t blown me away, but this place was across the street from my speaking gig and the booking agent put me here, so no big deal.
I walked in with diminished expectations.
Two extremely attractive people behind the counter looked up. The guy said, with a genuine smile, "welcome." And it all started to change.
These people were actually trying. Because they wanted to, not because they had to.
I got to my room. The turn down person handed me a crisp fortune cookie as I walked past her on the way to my room. My room had an etcha sketch on the desk, a tres cool CD softly playing on the stereo and very neat toiletries in the bathroom. Extra cost, maybe $3.
I called for a wake up call. A truly nice person answered the phone, not a computer. They also asked if I wanted breakfast (at 4 am!!). I did. Net profit for having a person answer? $15.
There is no perfect experience. But this was great storytelling, storytelling with authenticity from caring people. It restored my faith (at least a little) in what organizations can do.