When I’m catching up with the top luxury travel advisors in the business and they ask me where I’ve been lately, I’ll start giving them the list of hotels and resorts I’ve visited. If there’s one I don’t have a definite opinion on (i.e., never again, really bad service, it’s so great I want to live there), they’ll usually cut to the quick, “Would you go back there? Would you return?” What I’ve realized is that if I find myself wavering over the answer, then the answer is “no,” I wouldn’t go back. There are too many other great places to try out.
I suggest you use this same method to rate the places you visit. If you had it all to do over again, would you take that small amount of time you have to indulge in a true getaway and invest it in the same hotel or destination? It’s a great gauge of the worth of a place. Ask your clients the same question. Let them be your barometer so you’ll know for the future. It will also help you determine the nuances of their likes and dislikes.
Now put a similar test to the suppliers you work with. Would you use them again? These may be tough times, but if you think about it, it’s a buyers’ market when it comes to the travel suppliers you use; they should all be vying for your valuable business. How is their customer service? Are they willing to give you a direct line to a dedicated sales rep or do you find yourself on hold on their toll-free line again and again? How timely do they send commissions? If you have to pay someone a healthy salary plus benefits to chase after them what you’re owed, stop doing business with them and be sure to tell them why. Moreover, the next time they call, asking to come to your office to update your staff on their product, be sure to tell them, “no.” It’s time to take a stand. Times may be tough, but not paying you cannot be part of their strategy to stay alive.
On a lighter note, I’m shown here with the ducks at The Peabody Hotel in Orlando where I stayed a few weeks ago. I hadn’t been to The Peabody for years and I’m happy to say it’s better than I recall. The physical structure of the hotel is just stunning, with light marble everywhere in the lobby, where there are two great bars and an excellent restaurant, Capriccio Grill. The rooms are also extremely comfortable and lovely and the service is dead on. Five minutes after arriving in my room I received a call from the front desk enquiring whether everything was alright. It was, but I have the feeling if it weren’t they’d have resolved the issue right on the spot.
While I was in Orlando I visited Walt Disney World…another place I hadn’t been to for quite some time. I’d forgotten about Disney’s commitment to customer service, about how years ago they’d actually raised the bar on the consumer experience. They know how to move crowds gracefully in the parks and within all of their many hotels, and their employees are trained to be cheerful, alert and attentive to guests. Many hospitality companies have since emulated their attention to detail and employee training.
I was at Disney to check out the new Kidani Village at the Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort. This property is indeed luxury. The suites are large and well appointed, the service is great and if you have a balcony overlooking the savannah you’ll see real wild animals, such as giraffes, zebras, ostriches and antelopes. It’s stunning. To see my “backyard” while I was at the Kidani Village, visit www.luxuryta.com and click on the Disney channel in our video library.
By the way, Disney is opening a great new luxury addition to its Contemporary Resort, the Bay Lake Tower. It has a series of three-bedroom suites coming on line that will impress your most demanding clients.
It’s always great to go back to an old favorite and find out it still shines. Would I go back? Yes.