Back in 2012, I made a serious change in my business. It was more serious than switching from Sabre to Worldspan. It was more serious than jumping head first into ClientBase and TRAMS for Back Office. I gave up on my PC and went to Mac. For years, I had heard how Mac was far superior to all but the highest end PC. I was skeptical of the hype from the “Apple fanboys” but when my PC decided to take it’s permanent vacation, I decided to give it a try. And I never looked back. My experience with Apple over the past 2 years has been nothing short of stellar; and I believe that some of their successes can also be used in developing a travel agency into a super agency.
You open it up, plug it in and it works. Strive to make your business work as seamlessly as an Apple product. When you buy an iPhone, iPad, or a Mac, when you open the box, it is charged and ready to go. Is your office charged and ready to go when someone walks in or calls you? Are you there for them and willing to meet their needs immediately? Do you anticipate problems before they happen? Apple got where they are by listening to their customers. You should too.
With Windows, you click “start” to shut it down. To create an application folder, you need to right click and create a folder, then select a name for it. And then drag the applications into it. With Apple, you drag one application onto another and the machine automatically creates the folder, puts both applications in it and names it something very intuitive. Is working with you intuitive and obvious? Have you educated your clients on how you work? Have you looked at your processes to make sure they are as intuitive as possible?
When you need something from the Apple store, it is the most convenient transaction imaginable. You walk in, ask for your product, have the salesperson scan it, swipe a credit card, and walk out. If you have their app, it is even easier, pick it up, scan it yourself and walk out. Occasionally I will need a cable, iPhone case or something from the Apple store. I don’t even bother with the salespeople any longer. I find it, scan it with the Apple application and walk out the door. Rarely do I spend more than 10 minutes in the store.Time is valuable for everyone. Make sure you are aware of your clients’ time and don’t waste it–respect it.
As a travel professional, your goal should be to develop an experience that is all of the above. If you are unable to anticipate the needs and provide a product that works, maybe you need to consider a specialty. Apple’s products work right out of the box most of the time. When you are selecting the suppliers with which to align, you need to make sure that they work right out of the box too. Is the process of working with you as easy as it can be? Can you streamline some of them? If you have a high tech client base, switch to electronic communication platforms. If you are unable to address their concerns on Facebook or Twitter—get off Facebook and Twitter. And finally, make it easy. Yes, we all know how painful it can be to plunk down several thousand dollars for an unknown. But make it as painless as possible—take only the needed amount of time to consult with them. Seek out the tools available to make your job (and the client’s experience) easier. Put them all together and you will probably still fall way short of Apple (but then again you don’t have a $600 billion market value), but you will outperform your competition both online and off. And by providing the “Apple Experience,” your customers will likely return to you time and time again.
Disclaimer: It is not all wine and roses with Apple and the travel business. There are some suppliers who (for some crazy reason) refuse to support the platform by software or browser. But there are workarounds that will allow your Mac to be utilized as a PC.