A Tale of Two Delivery Restaurants


One of the best things about travel for me is going to local restaurants and cafes and enjoying the food. I love tasting the food, seeing the local people and really experiencing the town’s vibe.

But then there are times when I’m exhausted, and I want to order in. Like last night. I’d had a lovely brunch at the Mesa Verde in Santa Barbra, and then I spent the entire afternoon reading and walking at the beach. The sun set my “sleep clock,” as my mother would say, and I just wanted to have food delivered to my hotel room and then retreat to my bed.


I literally spent the entire day at the beach. I read, walked, and prayed.


A food delivery service left a postcard in my hotel room. The note said, “Quick delivery to XYZ Hotel.” They had vegetarian options, so I ordered. The food came fast. I opened the bag while the delivery guy was still at my door. There were no utensils or napkins. “Do you happen to have napkins and a fork and knife with you?” I asked.

“Nope. If you want those, you have to ask for them when you order.”

When I ordered, my mind was on food. Not on forks and knives. “I’m in a hotel, how can I eat my salad and entree without a fork?”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. You didn’t tell us you needed a fork or napkins, so we didn’t include those things in your order.” And then he just stood there looking like he truly was sorry that I’d have to either eat with my fingers or go hunt down plastic ware.

I closed the door, took one look at my food and decided the food didn’t even look tasty, certainly not worth the trouble of me trying to hunt down a fork and knife in the hotel. I ate my bread and threw out the rest.

Why wouldn’t a restaurant catering to (and advertising to) hotel customers assume that people would need napkins and utensils? Meeting the needs of the customer is the foundation of a good customer experience.

The Pizza Delivery Knew to Send Napkins and Forks

When my family vacationed in Denver last month, we ordered pizza for the kids while my hubby and I stepped out for a lovely vegan dinner at Watercourse. We waited for pizza delivery before leaving, and I was delighted to see paper plates, napkins, and forks with the boxed pizza! Of course, my teenagers still would have destroyed the pizza without paper goods.

My kids love pizza. We order pizza weekly. And that’s no exaggeration. We don’t get napkins and forks when pizza is delivered to our home. The pizza delivery we used that day – the same company we order from at home –  had a way to determine if delivery is to a residence or to a hotel. When delivery is to a hotel, they don’t wait for the customer to ask for paper goods. They assume customers ordering from a hotel might need plates, napkins, and forks. They also correctly assume that customers ordering from home don’t usually need forks and napkins.

Improve your customer experience in a big way by anticipating needs customers don’t express. Think, if I was the customer, what would I want/need in this situation?

Here’s an exercise I do in all of my customer service workshops. It helps my clients meet needs customers express and needs customers don’t even express.