David J. Danto


Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion




eMail: ddanto@IMCCA.org      Follow Industry News: @NJDavidD on all          


“Shouting Fire” – October 2023


People trampled in crowd vying for $50 laptops | News | rutlandherald.com  Can you shout “fire” in a crowded movie theater? Many of us living in western democracies enjoy one form or another of Freedom Of Speech.  But is there a limit on what we can say if it does damage?  The classic example above of shouting fire in a crowded movie theater is the extreme case of when we are not free to say anything anywhere.  But what about when it comes to customer service?  Are we free to share lousy experiences or do we need to be careful about the backlash?   

I’m reflecting on this because of a note I received from a friend and colleague last week.  Someone I know had posted on social media that they had a bad experience with a travel company.  (Seriously, it wasn’t even my post.)  I added in the comments that that firm has always disappointed me as well.  My colleague suggested I remove the comment as another part of our firm was pitching business to them.  It’d be a stretch for this firm to associate me with the proposed business, but it could happen, so I removed the comment.  (I told my colleague that if telling the truth about bad services experiences was not good, that ship had sailed for me decades ago.)

I am personally grounded from a set of morals and standards that dictate knowledge of a problem is ownership.  If, in my professional life, I hear of an unsatisfied client (whether or not it is my area of responsibility) I want to hear the details and see what I can do to address the issue and transform the complainer into a fan for life.  I just can’t empathize with organizations that wouldn’t want to hear all of the problems and be given an opportunity to address them.

I think that the travel and hospitality industry was like that for a long time.  I remember the names of key individuals at travel and hospitality firms that one could always write to to resolve issues.  One wouldn’t / shouldn’t pen a letter for something trivial, but when the situation was truly FUBAR, these people would step in to ‘make it right.’  But sometime after the Y2K turn of the century, everything seemed to change.  Hotels, airlines, and all the other travel support firms now seem to want their marketing to simply shout louder than any complaints, ignoring them along the way.  In fact, there are now even cases of people being sued by businesses that don’t like the honest negative reviews customers may have posted. 

It seems to come down to the reality that the only power consumers have is to vote with their wallet.  Did your airline decimate their frequent flyer program? (Of-course they did, they all did as there is no longer really any route competition or respect for loyalty.)  Then just stop signing up for their program, stop buying miles, stop using their credit cards – and fly only when it is the only option.  Did your hotel cut services during the pandemic and not restore them? Well then call them before making a reservation and confirm you will get full services like daily room cleaning and breakfast.  If they are not providing what you need, don’t stay there.

If you have anything negative to share about your experiences, be careful where and how you share them.  You wouldn’t want any backlash, and backlash seems to be the rule of the day.  And, as for me, perhaps I’ll post a little less about how my airline sucks, as honestly, they all suck.  



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I’m in another gap in my business travel.  My next trip is mid-November.  When I’m home I miss being on the road as often as I used to, but when I do get on the road I remember why I don’t miss it.  It isn’t how I remember it from 30 years ago.  It’s mostly just a pain in the rear. 




This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.

All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.

Copyright 2023 David Danto


As always, feel free to write and comment, question or disagree.  Hearing from the traveling community is always a highlight for me.  Thanks!