If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. You gave it your best shot. That’s okay, you’ll get him next time. Growing up, we’ve heard them all. Clichés are great; but they don’t pay the bills and to use an analogy Mike Marchev loves—I want to eat. For those of us who have never made a mistake, please leave the room. For those who have screwed up a time or two; stick around; I have some food for thought concerning your travel business.
By now, hopefully we all realize just how fickle and un-loyal today’s consumer can be. We heard hints of it when Vicki Freed (then with Carnival) said that a huge percentage of repeat cruisers did not book with their original agent. In my business, I see it all the time. People will come to me for my groups and special programs, yet when it comes to other travel, they go someplace else without giving me a shot—despite my constant messaging that I can handle all sorts of travel. We see it every day in the tire kickers and even people we consider close friends. It hurts when family talks about the great deal they got on wesellcheapcruisestopissoffyoursisterwhoisatravelagent.com. But the unfortunate truth is that these are today’s consumer. Just as companies are no longer loyal to their employees (does anyone still have a pension?), consumers are no longer loyal to their service providers. And, I will go one step further—the concept of loyalty is no longer a consideration in their buying decision.
And don’t think that the travel industry is unique or that we, as travel professionals, do not fall into that mold. For example, last night, I took my kids out to dinner at a local pizza shop they like. The woman taking the order was minimally fluent in English and understanding her was difficult, as was her understanding us. The manager stepped in to help. While he may have been fluent, it was hard to tell between the tongue piercing and the big thing ring that pierced his lower lip. Ultimately, the order came out late, wrong, and to go—despite that we were sitting at a table drinking our drinks. There was no indication that they made a mistake. No attempt at correcting it. So we sat there, popped open the Styrofoam containers and flipped open the pizza box and ate our dinner. The pizza was good, but it was not that good. There are maybe 20 pizza places in the area where I can take my business to get a not that good pizza. What is my incentive to return? They did not recognize a problem, and more importantly, they did nothing to rectify it.
I am Joe Q. Consumer and every day, I walk into your travel agencies (ok it is figuratively, but work with me) and give you a single chance to impress me and earn my business. I probably know more about the destination and product than you do. I am looking for a fair price, some added value, and your expertise in guiding me. All I ask of you is that you bring your “A-game” to the table when I walk through your door. And if by chance you left it at home that morning, make sure that you do something to assure me that it was an unusual occurrence; or else risk losing my business forever. You see, I do not know your business. I came to you for a weekend in the Bahamas this time; but the next time it might be for something else. You may be the most knowledgeable person on the planet for villa rentals in Abottadad, but if you fouled up that Bahamas weekend, I will never know—and more importantly you will never know that I planned to stay in Abbotadad for a year and fly over in a commissionable private chartered jet with 50 of my closest friends. Get the picture?
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