Last week we spent a few days at The Gleneagles Hotel. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it’s taken me 47 years to experience the legendary Perthshire paradise.

I guarantee it won’t take another 47 for my next visit.

I’m in research mode at the moment, gleaning gems of information for a new edition of my book, 5 Star Service.

I’ve had hospitality heavyweight Bernard Murphy on my research list for years.

Bernard is the MD of Gleneagles and he’s a service samurai.  Over a cup of coffee, with blistering honesty about the challenges of running such an iconic estate he hit me with an astonishing truth.

I’d just asked him about the Ryder Cup. For non-golfers (like me) it’s where Europe’s best pitch and putters take on their counterparts from the USA.

It appears to be a big deal.

It’s a massive global event with TV audiences in the multi-millions.

Gleneagles had an ambition to host the Ryder Cup with the creation of a new course in 1993, and just last year – 21 years later – they achieved their goal.

‘You must have put all your efforts into hosting the Ryder Cup’, I suggested.

‘Actually, no’, came the surprise reply from Mr Murphy.

He went on to explain that there was a massive danger in focusing so much on the Ryder Cup that you could forget about your day-to-day business.

Consider that for moment.

Your business works for 20 years to land a major global event, but your advice to your team is to double your efforts; on your day-to-day business.


Staging the special event, winning the award, getting the PR, hosting the VIP etc is sexy, but it can easily get in the way of core, day-to-day service.

Mrs Smith who saves every year for her three day Gleneagles break with her family couldn’t care less if Rory McIlroy is playing Tiger Woods next week.

Get it right for her and she’s back next year. And the next.

And so are her family.

The lifetime value of a customer can often be forgotten in the pursuit of something which is (briefly) more exciting.

Day to day may not be as sexy, but it separates the good from the brilliant.

Be Brilliant!


PS Here’s the rest of the story…

After a few days at Gleneagles you end up with a whole collection of outstanding examples of service.

Truly Owning A Problem 

There was a tiny error with my starter one evening at dinner. I pointed it out to our server and she said, ‘I looked at your plate when I brought it out and I didn’t notice’. She then apologised and offered a replacement.

She didn’t blame the chef.

She didn’t make an excuse.

She offered a solution.



Asking (at least) 3 Questions

Everyone at Gleneagles asks questions, and they appear to be genuinely interested in your answers.

It’s a step up from. ‘How was your journey?’

They added, ‘Where have you travelled from?’ and ‘How long did that take?’

Checking in with a customer at dinner was much more than a robotic ‘Is everything ok with your meal?’, it was followed with a specific enquiry about a part of the dish.

I also observed that if you didn’t want to chat they knew when to stop.


Shared Specialist Knowledge 

I like a whisky, and a highlight of our trip was talking to Cameron the Head Barman. He taught me more in 30 minutes about several new varieties than a lifetime of reading labels.

Knowing is one thing.

Sharing is another.

Sharing with passion is truly where it’s at.


Oh, and it snowed.

Boy did it snow, up to half a metre in places. But the Ground Staff kept clearing the same paths over and over again, ensuring all the key paths and routes were open.

Take a look at the pic and see if you spot the guys clearing the paths.


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