Where: Atlanta Airport Hotel
Between Meeting: After Photoshop World
I was trying to get home early after Photoshop World last week, but no seats were available on the last flight out of Atlanta. So I checked into an airport hotel for the first flight out the next morning.
While airport hotels are usually where the action isn’t, great light is great light and for about 45 minutes, it was great.
Shafts of light were streaming across the congruent floors in the open plan interior. I found the best angle and waited for someone to walk across one of the floors to create a striking silhouette. I waited and waited and nothing, nobody. I was feeling a bit down and about to bail when a friendly young woman walking to the elevator, which was behind me, smiled and asked what I was doing. I told her about the amazing light and that I was waiting for someone to walk by for a silhouette with no success. She immediately volunteered and I remember saying, “Really!” She asked where she should go and I directed her to the 3rd floor for the best angle since we were on the 5th floor. It would have been awkward for me to yell across the building to move toward the window so I used arm and hand signals until she was in the best spot. After making the exposures I quickly went to the 3rd floor to show her the results on the camera’s LCD. She was thrilled, I was delighted, and I gave her my business card asking her to email me so I could send her the image with my thanks.
The light was still great, so I headed outside and saw an interesting film noir-ish scene via the backlit cars in the parking lot. Due to the extreme contrast ratio I was doing a bracket of exposures when I heard, “What are you doing, I’m calling Security”. Unlike the woman inside who was incredibly helpful, this hotel employee was, shall we say, the opposite. I told her I was just taking pictures of the light on the cars, and within 20 seconds a hotel Security Agent was all over me like a cheap suit. “Who are you, this is private property” as if I was working for Vladimir Putin and plotting the annexation of the parking lot in the name of Mother Russia to complement the take over of Crimea. Or maybe I was unaware that if one parks their car in the hotel’s lot, that the vehicle’s title and registration is forfeited to the hotel…
After I gave the agent my name, room number etc. I remember thinking he was probably doing what he thought was right. And when he did his report and saw that I’m at the highest level of this hotel chain’s membership rewards program, that maybe he should have been a little friendlier and think in terms of customer service first, like my new friend inside the building. I learned the women who posed for me was in a training program for Delta Airlines where customer service is mission critical. After exchanging emails with her it was clear Delta Airlines both spotted a wonderful person to represent them, and in their training program, likely reinforced how small things can go a long way to building customer loyalty.
Maybe the hotel should send its employees, to the same customer training programs of which its guests are enrolled.