Do you remember the days when hotel bedspreads were paisley or patterned and slick polyester (in other words: nasty-looking)?  Then the Westin chain came out with their “heavenly bed” and transformed the hotel industry forever.

Westin’s heavenly beds had white (!) bedcovers, with cotton duvets and a whole array of decorative pillows.  They were inviting and looked like something you would want in your own home.  Best of all, they looked clean — there was no way you could hide weeks of dirt on the white comforter the way it appeared you could at other chains.

Over the holidays I stayed in a Hampton Inn.  There, too, my room had a white bedspread and a pile of pillows. It even had a Post-it note on the headboard:  “duvet covers and sheets are clean for your arrival.”  Now it is no longer enough to have the white look clean; the hotel needs to point it out and reassure me that they are.

I am grateful to Westin for forcing hoteliers to banish the nasty linens from beds across America.  But what once was a distinctive advantage for the chain has become a standard commodity even in moderate class hotels.  

It is not enough to be innovative and then rest on your laurels. If you discover something great, invariably someone will be quick to copy it.  You need to work hard to infuse a culture of continuous innovation in your organization.  There is no rest for the leader, even in a heavenly bed!

— beth triplett

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