Maureen (Mo) Hutchinson-Parker and John Parker are the proprietors of the Northern Lights motel in Wawa Ontario. I met Mo and John in 2000 when I started a snowmobile adventure tour company (as a hobby…it’s a long story) and selected the Northern Lights as a stop on our tour.
Despite the economic trials of Northern Ontario since then, the NL Motel has prospered. “Since we purchased this place, 14 Motels have closed from Wawa to Sault Ste Marie, and 5 towns north of us have all lost their only Hotels. But, our guests seem happy that we aren’t smart enough to Bail like the rest of them. Haha We won an Amazing Hotel Award!” appears on their website 11 years after they purchased the motel. They are doing something very, very right.
This summer on a cross-canada trek to move from Ontario to BC, we had the pleasure of staying yet again at the NL. The rooms would put Conrad Hilton’s properties to shame for their cleanliness, but what makes the NL a must-stay is the personal and humourous touches in the rooms and the true graciousness of the hosts.
In the rooms you will find jokes on the bathroom walls, hair elastics on the mirror, photos of foxes sharing the wonders of snow removal and sarcastic stuffed bear heads (yay for the nature lovers) among the trophies in the breakfast room. In short, it’s a delight. No it’s not a Fairmont, no it’s only view is of Highway 17 but year after year the patrons return because it is simply delightful to stay with Mo and John.
As consultants, we can learn from Mo and John.
If the motel was just brilliantly maintained, I wonder if it would still be around. It’s not the maintenance that does it, that just makes it equivalent to a Fairmont, Westin or Hilton. It’s the little things, the funny things that make it enjoyable and that make it worth the extra 2 hour drive instead of stopping in Sault Ste. Marie.
Now I am not saying that you have to be a comedy-writer to keep your client engaged, but there is no harm in a little levity once in a while.( Only a leader as long as people follow shows my bunnier side)
Lighten-up, be engaging and every once in a while crack a joke. Your client will appreciate it.