Welcome to the Ovolo 888 Hotel: Happy Shiny People

What does the Ovolo Hotel 888 in Darling Harbour have in common with other hotels or even allied health businesses?

The answer is “not much”, which is why I am writing about it. John (my husband) and I have stayed in many hotels over the years, and somewhat comfortingly, they are pretty much all the same. You know the drill, the well-lit, modern and minimalist lobbies with big reception desks; desk clerks who are friendly enough but are somewhat reminiscent of automatons. Doing their jobs well but do not quite feel authentic. Rooms that are pretty standard fare, white, with fluffy towels, comfortable bed, clean, a landscape print on the wall and a stocked minibar which you pay for. We know what we get when we stay in these hotels and are happy to pay for it. Until you come across somewhere that looks different and makes you feel special. Welcome to Ovolo 888 in Darling Habour.

We did not go looking for a different hotel. We were happy with our previous experiences and had initially booked at the Novotel. When the pandemic hit, we had to postpone our trip to Sydney and our reservation. By the time we were ready to book again, the Novotel had become a quarantine hotel, so we had to explore other options. We booked the Ovolo through one of the online booking sites. This was when I noticed that perhaps this hotel was a little different. It started with the confirmation email.

As we walked through the door, gone was the brightly lit sterile lobby; we were greeted by an intimate other-worldly feel with slightly dimmed lighting, eclectic and comfortable spaces to sit, vintage books and collectables. The Ovolo felt different. As we sat to check in, the people experience was also different. We did not feel like we were being “processed”. lt felt like we belonged and that we were coming home for the weekend. We were given information, about the free drink at Happy Hour and where to find the complimentary breakfast buffet in the morning. When we reached our funkily decorated room, we were greeted with a personalised card, an invitation to enjoy our stay, a lolly and snack bag and music gently playing via Alexis. Along with the standard in-room tea and coffee facilities came a free minibar. There were small special touches everywhere we looked. Yes, indeed, we felt as if we were home. To complete the experience, as we entered the lift, there was a little sign asking us if we would like to provide feedback, giving us the email address directly to the CEO. It felt like a place that cared from the bottom -up.

When researching this blog, I searched for the Ovolo and found their mission statement.:

  • Make our guests shine everyday
  • Happy and Productive workplace
  • Meaningful contributions to People and Society.

The Ovolo is an organisation with a simple and clearly defined mission statement. They do not need it on the walls as their employees live it every day, demonstrated by how they interact with their customers and how they present their surroundings. It is more than words. It is the vibe.

We have been back again since we first visited the Ovolo 888 at the end of 2019. I have bought gift vouchers for my kids and have told many people about them, in the hope that they too will enjoy the experience. I have now written about it. The Ovolo likely does not need a huge marketing budget. They just need customers who will tell others about what a great experience it is to stay in their hotel.

Since that first visit, I have thought a lot about allied health practices. Quite often, just like the “other hotels”, what we offer as far as our primary services is pretty similar and we all look and feel a bit the same. I see so many opportunities to capture the Ovolo approach by being a little more brave and creative. I wonder if you have ever thought about this and especially the small non-expensive and special things that you can do within your practice to help people to remember how you made them feel?

Dianna Howell CMgr MIML MAPA (January 2022)

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