5 ways to help your clients survive the hectic holiday travel season
‘Tis the season to be jolly … unless, of course, you’re stuck on the runway, sardined between a hygienically-challenged passenger on your right and a frazzled mom holding a screaming infant on your left.
Ah, the joys of holiday travel. And making the holiday season all the more joyful this year due to an economically-pinched travel industry: more crowded flights, fewer available seats, more unexpected fees—plus the predictably-long security lines we’ve grown accustomed to in this post-9/11 world.
This is the time for you to put on your superhero cape and come to the rescue! Be your customer’s best friend by making holiday travel fun again.
Here are five ways you can help them survive a less-than-jovial travel season.
1. Skip baggage claim chaos
Lost luggage can mean no holiday gifts to put under the tree or special outfit to wear at Thanksgiving dinner. Even under the best of circumstances, checking a bag will lengthen the time spent traveling. Shipping baggage is an easy way to eliminate hassles and hold-ups. A number of companies, including Luggage Forward, Luggage Free and Luggage Concierge offer this service. It’s an expensive alternative but many customers seeking a seamless journey will consider it money well spent.
2. Prepare for delays
During high-traffic seasons, flights can be delayed, sometimes even overnight. Send a list of airport hotels to your clients along with their itineraries—just in case. Urge customers to pack a “survival kit” that they can carry on the airplane in case they get stranded at a stopover—while their luggage continues on to the right destination. Toiletries less than 2 oz., a change of clothes (or at least underwear), some protein snacks like peanuts and a fully-charged mobile phone are all must-haves. (In fact, one great holiday gift idea to send out to your best clients is a travel case packed with a travel toothbrush, snacks and a small notepad branded with your travel agency’s logo. Hello? Great marketing opportunity!
3. Breeze through security
Familiarize your customers with TSA guidelines so they can get through the security screening without setting off any alarms—or raising red flags. Instruct them to avoid wearing metals and to keep a stash of plastic storage bags if they need to bring liquids on the plane. Make sure any gifts they’re bringing on board aren’t wrapped; better yet, have them shipped in advance or buy them at their travel destination. Amadeus travel professionals can find updated security information by clicking on “Resources” after logging onto AgentNet.com.
4. Build their itineraries carefully
To prevent your customers from having to race through the airport to catch a connecting flight, make sure you leave plenty of wiggle room in itineraries for delayed flights. A year ago, if the flight from New York to Atlanta got in at 10 a.m. and the next flight from Atlanta to Denver departed at 11 a.m., you might consider that a good itinerary. But not anymore. If the flight from New York is delayed for an hour, catching that flight to Denver is going to take Olympic-level athletic talent. Try to get your customers on nonstops—and if you can’t, assume at least one leg will be significantly delayed.
5. Pitch a “vacation from their vacation” once they return
Flying during November and December is difficult enough—many of your customers will be headed to their childhood homes, which can bring a whole new set of stresses, ranging from family squabbles to too close for comfort sleeping arrangements. Once they’re home and settled back in their old routine, a trip for two to the Bahamas during an off-peak travel weekend may sound very enticing.
Click here to download a printable “How to Be Your Customer’s Best Friend” holiday travel checklist.
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Do you have a suggestion or comment on how to “Be Your Customer’s Best Friend?” E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. And stay tuned for future editions when we tackle even more customer service topics!