Criticism can be difficult to take. On a regular basis, I solicit feedback from the travel agents that use TRO and Voyager Websites, and there is usually no shortage of good suggestions. Likewise, I speak with our advertisers frequently to see if we are exceeding their expectations. In the position of publisher, I have to patrol both sides of the fence, making sure that every aspect of our business is where I want it to be. It seldom is. We get close, but perfection seems always somewhere way down the road, usually miles away.
Sometimes the criticism can be brutal. The articles we craft, the editorial point of view, the look of our Destination Guides, the layout of our home page can all at times become the object of someone’s critique. I have only one thing to say to that:
If it were not for the suppliers and travel agents who are good enough to provide me with their critical insights, we would be a far less dynamic organization. Well-intentioned criticism
is a great favor – it keeps a company sharp, seeking after improvement in every aspect of the business model. In fact, most of the good ideas I’ve ever implemented had their birth in someone else’s head. Realities like that keep a business person real.
However, there is one type of feedback that I find absolutely devastating and so should you:
The worst possible feedback your travel planning efforts can evoke is silence. As tough as criticism can be, how much worse is indifference or a refusal to comment? Without criticism it is difficult to chart a course for the future. Surrounded by a vacuum, a travel company is likely to shoot off in any number of unproductive and questionable directions, or, worse yet, do nothing, resting on an imaginary bed of laurels.
Seek out the commentary of your travel agency’s clients. A big part of customer service is to solicit feedback from your customers. When you hear compliments be profoundly humble and grateful and ask “What more can I do?” When you hear criticism, listen with all your heart and soul. Even when poorly presented, criticism can tell you a great deal about shortcomings both large and small.
Don’t avoid the effort for fear of what you will hear. Instead, fear not hearing for lack of effort.
No news is good news? Hardly. Ask your clients how you are doing. With any luck, they will let you know.