Thursday, December 15, 2011

Your Order Room Service With Your Telephone, So Why Not Your Vacation?


This time of year I received many e-mails from clients and potential clients seeking advice for their next vacation. While that is great news, and I love to help them, there is a problem…A Big Problem.

The problem is, well, e-mails. Too many of us have become so reliant on shooting off a quick e-mail that we have forgotten how much easier an actual conversation can be when trying to plan a complex trip, or even just to figure out what sort of vacation one wants.  E-mails simply do not allow for the necessary "give and take" or an easy understanding of what a client’s desires really are. 

Eventually what can happen is a sense of frustration develops because either I do not really understand what a person may be trying to express in their e-mail or they do not understand fully what I'm trying to express in mine. That said, I can't tell you the number of times I have written in an e-mail, "Please give me a call" or "When would it be convenient for me to call you?" yet I only get an e-mail in response.

Am I complaining? No. My concern is not spending the time, but rather causing confusion – with prices and vacation options flying everywhere – rather than focusing on pricing and options that the inquirer truly desires.

There is a reason that Goldring Travel has:

A toll-free number in the United States: (877) 2GO – LUXURY;

A telephone number in London, England: 020 8133 3450;

A telephone number in Brisbane, Australia: (07) 3102 4685;

An International telephone number: +1 732 578 8585; and, of course,

Skype (egoldring).

It is so that I can talk with my clients and prospective clients. Not only is it the most effective way to communicate and discuss vacation plans, it is far more enjoyable, personal and, hopefully, informative.

Seriously, don't you get more of the information you desire more quickly when there is dialogue rather than:

                        Ask a question in an email.
                        Wait.
                        Read a response.
                        Ask a second question.
                        Wait.
                        Read a response.
                        Get frustrated because the answer wasn't really what you were looking for.
                        Ask a third question.
                        Wait.
                        Read a response.

Seriously, something that can be accomplished in a five minute telephone conversation can take hours or even days via email.

Is this more time-consuming for me? Yes and No. It may take more time up front, but in the end it is far more efficient, far more enjoyable and, of course, far more likely that you (my client or prospective client) are going to receive the information you desire and, ultimately, the vacation of your dreams.

To me it is, many times, similar to online booking engines where there is very limited interaction to travel agent, too much interaction with the computer, and ultimately frustration and dissatisfaction set in.

For example, how do you effectively explain in a brief e-mail the differences between Uniworld, Viking and Avalon Waterways when considering a China river cruise? Or, how does one discuss differences in cuisine, service styles, ambience, etc. as it relates to the inquirer's personal tastes, desires and culture.

The fact is that every person pretty much wants the same information, but wants it delivered in a different way. These differences exist from person to person, but become magnified when different cultures are considered. Trying to deliver the desired information in an e-mail considering these factors does not always result in a great experience.

There is another problem as well. That is the proverbial chasing of one's tail. Can you give me a price on Cruise A, All-Inclusive B and, by the way, what about a River Cruise? To me this is most interesting because the people that are relying upon e-mail generally spend a good bit of time surfing the web. And, for some reason, there is a hesitance to click on the "Fare" button even if it is to merely get a general idea of pricing. 

Do you want to know the “some reason”?  Understandably, it can be an overwhelming experience for someone to sort out all the prices and the differences.  And that is where a good travel agent comes in.  So my question is, “If that is the reason, then why not let me (your travel agent) sort things out in a more efficient and understandable way?  A way that I know will deliver the information you really want in the way that will not be so confusing or overwhelming?

So while I am happy to quote 10 different options, the reality of it is that eight of those possible options probably are not something the client ultimately is even interested in.

By all means, please send me e-mails. You know I will respond quickly! But, if you really are unsure, please follow that e-mail up with a telephone call or, if you wish, don't bother with the e-mail and just give me a ring.

In closing, let me ask you a question:  Do you prefer to order your room service request via a television monitor or by calling it in?  If you are a luxury guest, you make the call.  And why should you order your vacation any differently because…? 

Just remember my motto, "Be Treated By Your Travel Agent As You Will Be Onboard!" the next time you are looking for a vacation and you will soon hear, “Hello! Goldring Travel.”