What’s lagniappe? It’s that extra touch that makes a customer feel welcome. It’s the gracious extra step that turns an ordinary purchase into a pleasant memory.
When your coffee cup arrives in Buenos Aires or Prague, the saucer often has a little cookie or a sweet. The cookie is an unexpected extra, a gracious addition to a basic service that delivers a small smile of pleasure. That’s lagniappe.
I learned the word – and culture – of lagniappe on my honeymoon in New Orleans, where local businesses make it a regular practice to throw in a little extra to make a commercial transaction a pleasure. From the business perspective, the small extra helps build loyalty to the business. From the customer’s vantage, the little extra lodges the transaction into memory as a pleasurable experience.
Appreciating the small extras
Ever since I learned the word in New Orleans, I notice and appreciate the lagniappe in any transaction.
The single warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie that welcomes you to a DoubleTree Hotel – that’s lagniappe. The fresh squeezed glass of orange juice that greets a tired traveller in the check-in line at the Le Meridien Hotel in Cancun – that’s lagniappe.
The steamed hand towels that Lufthansa Airlines distributes during long flights – that’s lagniappe. The jar of lip balm in every room of Serendipity Bed and Breakfast in Ocean City – that’s lagniappe.
The small bite of pickled salmon that a Krakow restaurant delivered while we waited for our dinner; the cushy sleep socks British Airways doles out to help you sleep on overseas flights (do they still do that?); the daily delivery of fresh baked cookies and cheesy crackers to the hotel minibar at the Gerlozky Rooms hotel in Budapest; the whimsical additions to the Delta Airlines safety instructional video that actually make it fun to watch – all of that is lagniappe.
The extra touch that makes the traveler feel welcome, the gracious extra step that turns an ordinary purchase into a small happy memory – that’s lagniappe.
More about Louisiana
Have you ever gotten an extra something thrown in by a vendor when you were traveling? Did it turn a purchase into a pleasant memory? Tell us about it in the comments.