Follow along with me and give me your thoughts in a comment. How much does your knowledge and the product impact your success? I am not suggesting that we do not need either of them; but I do wonder, with all the information available from other sources, how large a role those pieces play in a travel decision for a consumer.
This past weekend there was a citywide “burger battle” to determine the best burger in town. It was whittled down to 8 contestants, each of which had a decent burger. The playing field was leveled—they needed to use the same beef, the same grill, and they needed to use Budweiser (ok, so they sponsored it) in the recipe in some form.
The voters were able to go from table to table sampling the creations in slider form to get a taste. If you enjoyed it, you left one of your tickets (votes) in their box. If not, you don’t vote. The restaurant with the most tickets at the end of the day is declared the winner. Simple enough right?
Well, I went with a bunch of friends and we all agreed that from a burger perspective one place excelled. The meat was flavorful, the toppings worked, the bun was not too overpowering, etc. All in all, it was the best burger.
But, another restaurant won and seemed to always have longer lines. Their burger was good. But it was not that good. So why the lines? I went and watched for a bit and noticed how the employees were dealing with the public. They addressed them by name if they knew it and treated them like a long lost friend. They all told stories about the restaurant and the other offerings, their hours, their happy hours, other awards they had won, etc. And their voting box was filling up with votes.
I asked a few people that were leaving if it was the best burger and they agreed—it was not; but they voted for them because of the experience they received at their table.
OK, travel is not making burgers, but there are some parallels to be drawn here. The most obvious, to me, was that the winner was not the best product, but the best experience in buying the product. The parallels continue—like travel, they were all selling the same product. Theirs was beef from the same supply. Ours is travel from the same suppliers. They dressed their burgers up as best as they could with spices and toppings; and we dress up the standard trips with destination guides, trip reports, emergency call numbers, etc. They won the contest based on how they put their toppings together and, most importantly, how their personality won over the customer. When I got my slider, I was addressed by name, given a hug, and subject to some chitchat about my recovery from surgery. In short, I was a friend or maybe even a family member. And that is what earned my vote!
What do you think? Do you think that personality plays as important a role in the travel business? I’d love to hear what you think. Please leave a comment!