New York, New York – so good, they named it twice.
I don’t know who “they” are but they were right. Kay and I have got back from an exhausting, whirlwind five-day trip to the big apple. It lived up to all the hype, expectation, and excitement.
We’ve been before, 31 years ago for me and 36 years for Kay. That’s a long time. So, we treated this trip as if we’d never visited before. Taking in all the sights was a priority and we had a long list of recommendations from various people.
We packed in loads.
Bus tours of Midtown, downtown and yes, uptown. Visits to Times Square and Battery Park. Dinner in an Italian restaurant that I’m convinced is owned by Rocky Balboa.
Street markets, where we ate jerk chicken. Bagels for breakfast with cwaafe. The Museum of Modern Art (weird), Grand Central Station (stunning) and sunset from Top of the Rock (incredible). There was walks through The Village, the High Line and a ferry trip around lower Manhatten in the rain. This got us great views of the famous skyline and The Statue of Liberty.
Dinner at Empire Steak, Lunch at Chelsea Market where we ate cheese, tasted (and bought) hot sauce. Drank tea, coffee, and lots of wine. A trip to a bar owned by the cousin of a friend. An evening at a place called Bar Bacon with a lad I used to coach tennis, 15 years ago.
Drinks in Alfie’s bar where a lovely girl by the name of Tabatha explained the rules of baseball to me. I still don’t get it and she couldn’t understand why I didn’t know the rules in the first place!
We walked, we used taxis, we caught the bus, the ferry, and the subway.
Laura Moxham, long-standing EC member and friend suggested a helicopter trip. Sadly, this was the only form of transportation we didn’t do! Laura’s suggestion came from NY as she was out there herself at the invitation of Google.
Perhaps our favourite thing was our bike ride through Central Park.
This involved a trip to the Apple Store and a rather hair-raising ride across four blocks in the city. Not sure I’d do that one again!
It’s a city that we’ve both wanted to visit for ages. The opportunity and the subject of this article came about because I’m a Hilton Honours member. It’s a simple membership scheme. You accumulate points as you stay in Hilton Hotels which leads to better benefits. Late checkouts, free wifi etc.
It’s not something I’ve thought about. It’s just another app on my phone. Until I got a call from them last November asking if I’d like to take advantage of an offer. In return for listening to the offer, I’d get 500 points.
The offer was a no-brainer, four-night stay at The New York Hilton. The only catch was we’d have to go to a “presentation” for 90 minutes while we’re there. What’s not to like?
So, on Saturday, we turn up for our presentation which clearly was going to be a sales pitch for a timeshare type deal. We weren’t wrong.
What amazed me and gets me sharing with you is how brilliant the whole thing was. To be clear. We have no intention of purchasing share deeds in New York Property. Even if it comes with points that you can use to redeem against holidays in their best Hilton Resorts.
It was a close thing. Joe Becchinelli (what an awesome name) was superb.
I’ve seen a lot of sales pitches in my time and this was up there with the best.
It got to the point where I asked him if I could record his pitch and whether I could have a copy of his script. No to both but that would have been worth paying for.
I was mesmerised. Even though I knew exactly what he was doing and I could feel us being led down the rabbit hole. The pitch was so well crafted that I had to focus on what he was doing to stop myself reaching for my wallet.
Don’t get me wrong. It was all open. All ethical but so slick and professionally done that we had to concentrate hard to not buy.
He engaged us from the beginning. I’m a cynic when comes to this sort of stuff. Within minutes, despite myself, we were sharing teenage daughter stories and comparing tattoos. He was incredibly transparent. “Here’s what we’re going to do. At the end, you won’t like it, you’ll love it. Then you’ll buy, or you won’t”. I’ve another eight appointments this weekend and I’ve sold five this month already (7th October) so it’s no skin off my nose. Oh, we work purely on commission”.
He took us through the package on offer. He ran the numbers past us of what it would cost to holiday once a year for the next 10 years. He created a great comparison using photos of resorts that happened to be on the screen to engage us emotionally.
He loaded up the benefits and then asked if we liked it. We loved it (he was right).
Joe then showed us the investment and reminded us of the benchmark figure we’d created together.
He then left us to get a coffee.
Now, most of the above are standard sales techniques. I’ve seen it before but I’ve never seen it delivered in such a brilliant manner. Maybe it was the American effect. He was loud, a bit brash and certainly skirted on the wrong side of political correctness. He was also confident, knowledgeable, and easy to like.
Kay said to me whilst he was gone “you are going to say no aren’t you”!
This was the challenge and the first part of why the pitch was so brilliant. You see, there was nothing not to like. We did love it. It was a no-brainer. It’s very hard to say no to because all the objections had been taken away early. The only reason left was money, and no-one likes to be cheap. No one wants to say aloud, “I can’t afford it”.
I said no. Actually, I said something like “we’d love to but our house is older than this country and we’re prioritising our spending on that. New windows, an extension, bathroom. Our new boiler is going to be around £6,000.
You see, justifying my decision.
Here’s the second part. Joe said thanks for listening and I’ll just introduce you to Katherine my colleague who’ll get some feedback from you.
Katherine takes us to a different room and asks us whether we felt hassled or intimidated. Did Joe treat us fairly and cover everything we needed to know. Then “I see you’ve decided not to purchase at this time. What we’d like to do is stay in touch and follow up so that when the work on the house is done, you’ll be in a position to purchase then”.
Talk about the presumed sale! No is not now….
Then “We do have a way to make this easier for you. It’s a seven-night taster holiday at one of our flagship resorts. You can experience everything that an owner gets. All we ask is that you give us 90 minutes to talk to you about your stay and whether you’d be interested in purchasing at that time”.
“Which resort?” we ask.
Shit. $1200 dollars later and we’re the proud owners of seven nights in Hawaii, something on our bucket list.
A brilliant example of down-selling. They know their products are good. They’re confident they sell and they know they can find something we’ll buy. We’ve assuaged our guilt at feeling like we let Joe down, we really want to go to Hawaii and we feel less cheap.
I mean, It’s not like the windows can’t wait a few months…