Profitable Lessons from the Road (March Edition)

Nature landscape of sunset light above asphalt road

I’m always amazed at how much one can learn about business success just by the act of travelling. Here is what happened over the last 30 days, and the lessons you can use to profit from it.

It’s a valuable exercise to use your own experiences as a customer to improve your own business’ customer service. Why not learn from the mistakes of others?

1. Loyalty is rewarded. Airlines and hotels go out of their way to help their top tier passengers. When I was delayed 10 hours on a trip home American airlines worked ruthlessly to reschedule and find me new flights during a busy peak season weekend and Fairmont offered me complimentary access to my hotel room all day. I can see my current buying behaviours change as a result as I prioritize these two providers on future travel bookings. What are you doing to make sure your most profitable customers are prioritizing you?

2. The New York Palace concierge team sets an extreme high bar for service standards. Even before I arrived, they were happy to arrange an early check in, provide recommendations to a tailor and arrange for a surprise birthday presentation for another guest. As a result, I had great anticipation and also great expectations for my arrival at the hotel. And I was not disappointed. Before your customer has even used your product or started your project, what can you do to make them excited about doing business with you?

3. A confused buyer never buys. During a recent NYC theater excursion to An American in Paris there was a sign above the concession that read “food and beverage bought here can be taken to your seat” and then another sign above the theater entrance that read “No food and beverage is allowed in the theater.” I’m guessing many people by passed the concession just in case their food and drink were confiscated. What a loss of revenue. When was the last time you had your business processes looked at through a fresh set of eyes.

Could you be sending mixed messages that are confusing your buyers? <- Click to Tweet

4. Last week at dinner, we had a waiter who never asked us if we wanted wine with dinner and who we had to hunt down just to get a refill of water (or drinks). I figure he left $400 on the table because this crowd loves a good bottle of wine, he just didn’t know it. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Are you asking for the sale every time?

5. OpenTable makes it so easy to book reservations and manage my dining schedule. I’m of half a mind not to eat anywhere that doesn’t use OpenTable.

6. Inconsistent process by the same provider is frustrating. Whether it’s hotel brands, airlines, restaurants, Kinkos locations, or IT services, I notice that I am less tolerant of inconsistent service and processes between different locations of the same brand. Why? Because a brand is supposed to represent uniform expression of quality. It’s how you want to be represented when customers are present and how you want to be thought of when buyers are not present but are making decisions remotely. If the experience is inconsistent, I’m less likely to reconsider you. Why don’t brands spend more time ensuring that a uniform expression of their culture and quality is expressed in all locations?

7. Do yourself a favor during winter and thunderstorm season when travelling. Give yourself time. Arrive at the airport early, don’t take the last flight out to your destination, and give yourself ample connection time. The unhealthy stress caused by being late, missing flights and being stuck is all SELF-INFLICTED. You can control your travel plans. Be smart and prepare for the worst case scenario.

8. I stay at a number of hotel chains that are not full service. Hampton Inn is a great example. While they don’t have dinner service, they have a great social hour and almost always an excellent list of restaurants to recommend that deliver. It costs them nothing to making these recommendations yet it improve the goodwill between guests (who don’t want to go out in the snow again) and the brand. Incidentally, I always tell the restaurant who recommended me, I think it’s important that they know! How can you add value for your buyers by recommending them to complimentary services.

Travel Safe. Sell Profitably. Be well.