Postcards from Edge of Personalization

Not so long ago it was commonplace to receive junk mail that attempted to make a personal connection by including your name or other salient facts in the body of the pitch. But they were always outed as inauthentic by the multiple printing processes, as your name would show up in ALL CAPS, or in a different type face, or a different ink color. As printing (and other back-end) processes become more sophisticated, that has basically gone away and now the pitch looks perfect.

New York’s Eventi hotel (a Kimpton property, known for their extra attention to detail in customer service) is going the other direction, with hand-written welcome letters to their loyalty club members. However, they bungled the task; instead of the warmth of a personal note, they reveal the simulated fakery. Let’s pretend I didn’t watch the check-in staff shuffle through a pile of identical envelopes to pull out the one with my name on it…the note itself is written by two people, using two different pens! The handwriting is different, and the thickness of the ink is different. One staff member is asked to write a bunch of blah-blah-we’re-so-glad-you’re-here notes, maybe weeks in advance? When they are preparing for that day’s guests, someone else adds the name at the top.

It’s odd to see the signs of the mechanized system’s shortcomings rearing their head in what we’d expect to be a personalized, hand-crafted alternate.


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