Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cruise Lines: Learn from the US Post Office How Not To Do Business. So, Where is "The Love"?

About three months ago I moved my office from Red Bank, New Jersey to Colts Neck, New Jersey...which is about 15 minutes away.  The move, overall, went pretty smoothly, but I have one nagging problem:  The United States Post Office.

You see, when I send out Pre-Cruise Documents (for those lines that still have them) I enclose them with a small gift along with a cover letter.  When I moved my office to Colts Neck those packages started costing me just a little bit more...as I found out when they were being returned to my office for a few pennies more postage.  And then I found that certain Cruise Document packages - always sent with a larger gift - were also being returned for just a little bit more postage....and I am talking something like 20 cents on a $26.00 overseas package.  This never happened when my office was in Red Bank, so something had to be amiss.

The other day I had it.  I sent out four identical Pre-Cruise Document packages and two were returned for 47 cents additional postage...and I was totally baffled how this could be.  So I called to speak with the Post Office Supervisor.  I was told he just went to lunch (at 1:45 p.m...just after I received my mail).  So I called back in an hour and received the same story.  So I called back again after another hour and, for a third time, received the same story.  Frustrated I asked for him to call me. He never did.

This morning I went to the post office to speak directly with him.  He was - not surprisingly - on the telephone.  I said I would wait...and I did.  (Sound anything like what you go through when you call a cruise line reservations department?)

When we finally spoke the excuse given was first that the Main Post Office Processing Center is cracking down, but when I reminded him that Red Bank and Colts Neck use the same Processing Center the truth came out:  The postal clerks were concerned about getting in trouble for accepting under- paid postage and were being hyper-critical in order to protect their jobs. So essentially a package that could be weighed or categorized one way was regularly being accessed using the more expensive method.  The clerks could justify their actions, their jobs would be safe and it was only a few pennies more in postage, so the businesses wouldn't complain.

Well, that was the theory.  Those short-sighted clerks didn't realize that the additional time being spent by the businesses, the delays in having the mailings delivered, the ill-will be created with its customers, etc. all added up to less...not more...overall business for the profit-starved Post Office.  Oh, and the supervisor, only responded with a promise to work with me after I said I would write a letter advising the proper authorities of what I saw as a bad practice...at best.

So what does this have to do with the cruise lines?  Everything! 

I don't care if it is an offer of a $99 upgrade rather than making it complimentary, a change in how guarantee suites are handled, increases in non-commissionable fares, more restrictive pricing models, restrictions on turning bookings over to travel advisors, or having reservation agents following "scripts" so that they listen for key words (rather than engage in issue resolution/problem solving) designed to push passengers into a more profitable (for the cruise line) solution, etc. it is all so very shortsighted.

If the cruise lines want to increase profits, increase "The Love". It is pretty simple, when you take the time and care to present the customer with a caring approach, the extra postage...'err more restrictive pricing model, becomes less of an issue - if it is even recognized as one. 

And if the prospective cruise passenger feels "The Love",  that imperfect itinerary, the slightly off timing, the pricing being just a bit more than desired all become less of an issue.

At Goldring Travel we work to have our clients feel "The Love".  We deal with the cruise lines, make sure you aren't paying that extra postage and allow you to feel the excitement of your upcoming cruise or land vacation...rather than having it soured by a postal clerk/reservations agent that is put into a position of seeking to increase the business's revenue or suffer the consequences. 

Goldring Travel wants your business for life...not just the short term.

And you want to deal directly with the cruise lines because why?  Tell me it isn't because you love the U.S. Postal Service!