David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
Thanks But No Thanks
You’ve probably heard the very old joke “when is a door not a door? When it’s ajar.” Putting aside the image of a jar of jelly swinging open, I use this reference to ask the similar question of my fellow frequent travelers – when is a special benefit / opportunity / sale / offer not a good thing? The answer, sadly, is more often than most of us would like. Unlike the real deals that JoeSentMe readers get whenever Joe discovers them, these other special offers typically come to frequent travelers multiple times a day. In most cases – rather than being a truly valuable opportunity – these turn out to be everything from misleading to downright insulting. Let’s look at a few examples.
The This Is Nothing Special: While it’s been a staple of business since the dawn of transactions, claiming something is “on-sale” when it really isn’t is typically a scheme to bring in customers or raise attention. We see this in society all the time – be it from cars advertised at a great price (with only one VIN number that qualifies for the deal) to department stores that mark-up a garment’s price to a ridiculous level so they can show you how much they’ve cut the price to make you think you’ve found a deal. (Heck, there’s one major domestic merchandise store that sends out so many 20% coupons that everyone who checks-out there always has to negotiate extreme couponing to find out the real prices of the items.) As frequent travelers we are bombarded by continuous emails and postal mail letting us know that some route or property is having a special sale. These are often deceptive but innocuous. It’s just the company’s way of asking us to keep them at the top of our mind. Savvy travelers know the difference between a real sale and a marketing pitch, and non-savvy travelers…well, they’re the ones at the store checking-out with a bedspread or bath curtain without using one of those ubiquitous 20% coupons.
The Are You Freaking Kidding Me: Sometimes it’s plainly obvious when a travel firm’s marketing department is completely disconnected from its customer service database. I get daily emails and monthly mailers from a certain cruise line that I’d never use again even if my life depended upon it. My wife and I had a fully documented horrendous experience on one of their ships, and their “executive response” was so pitiful it was downright insulting. When something like this happens you would think travel companies would put some sort of documentation into their marketing file that indicates that maybe this person might not be the best one to send promotions to – but that rarely happens. Just today I received a mailer from this firm offering me a “whole $100 off my next cruise.” Not only is that nothing special as above, but each mailer and email from them is just a reminder of how much I despise the organization that wronged me and never made it right. It serves the totally opposite purpose of its intent. When a travel company doesn’t resolve a customer service situation to the customer’s satisfaction, every outreach is only a reminder of the cluelessness of the organization. You’d think they’d figure that out at some point. As has been discussed and proven many times before, it takes much more effort (and cost) to win a new customer than to retain an existing one. Sadly, it seems many just refuse to admit that, and take no action removing unsatisfied past customers who have contacted them from their ‘standard’ mailing lists. These firms continue to spend money sending mailers and creating marketing that only reinforces the hatred toward them – which is a terrible waste all around.
The Sorry You Just Missed It: Every once in a while we travelers do get an offer that seems too good to pass-up. Good-luck cashing that offer in. In many cases, by the time the marketing emails arrive or ads are viewed, the deal is no longer available and/or has its capacity filled. Personally, I only get-in on deals like this approximately one every twenty-five times. What is the effect of an alert that results in nothing at the end of the effort? It’s not hard to realize that these too have the opposite effect of their intent. Crying Wolf does the travel organization no good if it only serves to make the customer take future offers less seriously.
I’d add more categories of this to the above, but I just received an email from a casino hotel in Connecticut (I’d never stay at for free) for a “Sun Stay for $139 w/Breakfast & Upgrade” and I have to go check it out. Do you have any stories or examples like these from your own experiences and/or email? Feel free to let me know about them and I’ll be happy to publish the comments in a subsequent blog.
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.
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