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. 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. If you’ve never made a mistake, you are excused from reading this column. For those who have screwed up a time or two (or more); 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 hear it from suppliers who say that customers come to them after booking with us. 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 their 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 and risk being called out—loyalty is no longer a factor in their decision. There was a time when loyalty would sway a decision–oh he has always been so good to us, we’ll just give him the order even if he is priced a little higher.
And don’t think that the travel industry is unique or that we, as travel professionals ourselves, 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 counter staff did not speak English and made ordering difficult. When the order did come out, it was wrong and packaged to go–despite that we were seated at a table and drinking our drinks. I complained about the incorrect order and the manager came to the table to talk and through the giant piercing in his tongue I think he said, “this is out best seller and it’s good–you should try it.” Well maybe. But it is not what we ordered. Not served for dine-in. He came back, tossed 4 sets of plastic utensils rolled in a napkin on the table and left. 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 nothing to remedy a problem; and more important, they did not even realize they had a problem.
I am Joe Q. Consumer and every day, I walk into your travel agencies (ok it’s an analogy–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 Wendy Perrin’s top rated travel agent, but if you fouled up that Bahamas weekend, I’ll never know—and more importantly you will never know that I planned to stay in the Royal Suite at The Burj al-Arab for a year and fly over in a commissionable private chartered jet with 50 of my closest friends. Get the picture?
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment!