“What Will the Customer Want Tomorrow?” – Oh for the Prescience of Concierge M. Gustave of the Grand Budapest Hotel

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.
Wayne Gretzky

Concierge Gustave teaching his young Lobby Boy
Concierge M. Gustave teaching his young Lobby Boy

M. Gustave is a didact of high-level service, schooling young Zero Moustafa in the art of understanding what a guest wants, and getting it to the guest, before the guest has even thought of it.
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Review by Glenn Kenny (from the great Roger Ebert site!)

“Customers don’t know what they want until we have shown them”.
Steve Jobs


It doesn’t take much to be successful these days.  You just have to know what people are going to want before they know it themselves.  Then, you have to have a process in place, fully operational, and the product fully developed, when you are ready to show them what they want.

Jeannie and I took a weekend away – ate a little (make that — ate way too much!), went to two museums, and saw some movies.  One movie was The Grand Budapest Hotel.  It is a quirky and wonderful Wes Anderson movie, and the main character is the concierge who knows what every guest wants before the guest knows.  A genius magician of customer service.

I kind of view every thing – every book, TV show, movie — through a “what can I learn about successful business strategy and execution?” lens these days.  And this prescient concierge reminded me of the Steve Jobs quote (and the famous Wayne Gretzky claim).

The problem, of course, is that it may take a once-a-generation talent like Gretzky, or Steve Jobs, or the Grand Bupapest Hotel’s concierge.  How do you train such prescience?  Can big data ever really capture what Steve Jobs had?

My suspicion is…no.

But I do think this.  We all have to ask, more often than ever before, “What will the customer want tomorrow?  Not today; certainly not yesterday; but tomorrow?”  And then, our answer has to be better than that other person’s answer, trying to beat us to the punch.  And then we have to get it ready before that moment arrives.

As I said, it doesn’t take much to be successful these days…


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