Attention, attention

In my role as president of the EAIE, I have the privilege of travelling and staying in hotels quite often. Every time I arrive at the hotel in Amsterdam (I have to be there every month at least a couple of days) the receptionist welcomes we me by saying “welcome back Mr. van Liempd, did you have a nice trip to Amsterdam?”.

When flying with KLM and once in my seat I am welcomed by the purser: “Welcome on board Mr. van Liempd” and I do not even fly business class! I must admit that I still feel a bit embarrassed by such a welcome. And more importantly, I do not understand why I feel embarrassed. Is it that I do not want people around to hear my name; that I want to remain anonymous? Or do I just feel uncomfortable by this special treatment?

What I do understand is that this special attention is just personalized marketing and that the hotel, the restaurant or airline want me back next time. Just like receiving adds for boots on the webpage, because you googled for it the last couple of days. Ivo Weyel, hotel correspondent for NRC called this special treatment in a recent article the new luxury. If you are a frequent sleeper at one of the five start hotel chains, you can expect a bathrobe with you initials, your favorite perfume and your special wine in your hotel room.

For several years, almost all universities have developed special programs for the high flyers, for the talented students who deserve special treatment: excellence tracks, tuition fee waivers, scholarship programs, honors programs etc. The top 10% receive the best treatment and much attention. But what about all the other students? What about the “bottom” 10% or 20%? It would be a good resolution for 2014 to not forget the other students, they deserve attention as well, and there is nothing luxurious about that.

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