Observe, learn, and bone up those customer service skills while you can | Travel Research Online


Observe, learn, and bone up those customer service skills while you can

As we all navigate this new world with COVID-19 over our shoulders, as we need to be vigilant. Sure we need to wash our hands, wear our masks and avoid crowds; but I am talking about observational vigilance. Let me explain.

My area of the country, Maryland, is slowly and methodically re-opening up. Our Governor has taken a measured approach from the beginning and we seem to have COVID as under control as we can. Businesses are open at 50% capacity and the restaurants are all trying to expand that with outside dining while the weather cooperates. And after being cooped in for a long time, many (including myself) are safely venturing out. But things are different.

Gone are the days of the server flopping a check down with a hastily scribbled “thank you” with a smiley face or a heart. Gone are the days when managers were relegated to the back office poring over numbers and payroll. Managers are roving the aisles or tables making sure that everything is on par. Servers are legitimately happy that you chose to dine at that particular restaurant.

As they should be.  There is a lot of competition and not nearly as many customers—so if they want to eat themselves (by getting a paycheck) they need to make sure the experience is exceeding expectations.

Last night, my girlfriend and I went to a local steak house. Knowing that many were not comfortable with inside dining, they had a tent. It was a huge tent and outfitted with fans to move the air and televisions (generally the steakhouse is a sports bar). The table was marked as sanitized. The menu was accessible via a QR code or paper menu. The server was fast, efficient, and genuinely happy to be working. And the General Manager made the rounds no less than three times while we ate to make sure all was well. He also hopped in and cleared plates and helped out as needed.

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My point here is that when we get back to business, there will be fewer customers looking to travel; and while there will be fewer agencies as well, now is the time to make sure you can shine.

Bone up on those skills.  One suggestion for you — Mike Marchev who has been writing for TRO for years and his advice is ALWAYS solid and spoken like a true New Jerseyan. It is succinct, hard-hitting, and makes you think. And as a bonus, his tips will be valid in travel just as much as they will in any other industry.

He is a regular speaker on the travel trade show circuit and if you get a chance to hear him, it is well worth it! (http://www.mikemarchev.com/)

Nolan Burris is another one of my favorite sales motivators. As much as Mike is from Jersey—Nolan is decidedly West Coast and not nearly as “in your face” as Mike. And unfortunately, Nolan decided to change up his life a little in June of this year, so we will not be seeing him on the travel circuit as much when it resumes, but his books are well worth the investment and if you want to know how you need to run your business moving forward, take ten minutes and watch Nolan put it all together!

Stuart Cohen. OK Stuart is more of a motivational guy…and who doesn’t need motivation? But he has extensive background in the travel industry from Celebrity Cruises to Resort For A Day to speaking on the travel trade show circuit. If you need a boost of energy, Stuart will give it to you. He has written for TRO extensively and I feel that Stuart is the third of the trifecta of industry speakers that I cannot recommend highly enough. (https://stuartlloydcohen.com/)

We are in a slump, but no one needs to tell you that. Take the time to learn and observe. When you are out and about, see how people interact with you and take note. Take time to listen and learn from experts. And of course, keep up with suppliers on all the latest product details.

When the doors open again for travel, there will be people looking to work with you; but only if you can deliver the experience they expect. As difficult as this time is, we have a unique opportunity to press the reset button and make sure we get it right!

Now, go wash your hands!

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