Last week, I went to dinner with a colleague. And like all great conversations, this one began after a few drinks. His phone stated to beep, vibrate, and buzz. I realize that most travel professionals today are on call 24-7, so it was not unusual for him to address the beeps, vibrations, and buzzers right then and there. I had expected a short, simple response and a return back to our conversation. But no! He kept tapping.
And tapping. And swiping. And tapping some more. I assumed that he was taking care of some sort of travel emergency. After about 10 minutes of this, I excused myself to go to the rest room and when I returned he was done.
Naturally, I inquired. His answer surprised me. The first beep was an automated alert that someone had completed a trip inquiry request on his website. The second was an email from the client confirming that the form had indeed worked properly. He replied and assumed that since the client was already this engaged, he needed to strike while the iron was hot. The client had essentially planned his own vacation on my friend’s website.
My friend reviewed the inquiry to make sure it was possible, then switched over to a supplier site and held the reservation. Back to the client to confirm that the trip could be finalized. Sent client a link via text for a secure credit card transmission. Another beep and the credit card info was available to him. While I was in the rest room, he called the supplier’s res line and gave them the number and the booking was confirmed. He went back into his phone, accesses his CRS and entered the payment and emailed the client a receipt and a promise to follow up in the morning.
Wow. OK, I consider myself pretty technically savvy, but this left me in the dust. My thumbs are big and my hands are slow. I do not feel comfortable working on a tablet, much less a phone—gimme a laptop or a desktop. In the end, he spent about 20 minutes and landed a $8000 sale.
I asked how often that happened and he said that it is happening more and more frequently. People are impatient and they want answers immediately so they can move on. This is exactly why clients are pitched for their next vacation while on their current one. He said that when he responds immediately, more often than not, the sale will close in as little time as I just witnessed.
The bonus for him (father of a few young kids) is that while working from home offers a lot of flexibility, the ability to work from his phone affords him total freedom to work wherever there is a cell signal or wifi.
This got me to thinking. Are we on the verge of another shift in the marketplace? At one point, most of the travel professionals worked in either corporate offices or retail stores. Then things began to shift to home offices. Could a home-less office be the next big thing? Is it already here?
Could you…or do you use your phone or tablet at your primary “computer”?