It Only Takes One Mistake



John McMahon with Civitano
I am shown here with Tom Civitano, VP of sales and marketing, Americas, for the Jumeirah Group, and Maurice Bonham Carter, owner of Island Destinations, at a Jumeirah gathering in Manhattan recently.


It’s a natural instinct to focus on and celebrate new clients as that generally means growth for you personally or for your company, as long as you are also retaining clients. Do you know what your client churn rate is? Do you measure the number of clients and average trips taken? Take some time and analyze these statistics; I’m sure you’ll find it to be an eye opener. In fact, don’t be surprised if the conclusion is that you need to develop a client retention plan.

As a consumer myself, I am currently in the decision-making mode on whether I should change my preferred airline. I currently fly American and have been discouraged by their aging equipment and the “ambiance” at the LaGuardia gates that I fly frequently out of. On most flights I feel like I am sitting in my grandfather’s chair, the one he used for 50 years, and the LGA terminal is probably the worst strip of gates in the U.S. Train stations have better amenities and services. I continue to get messages that a new fleet is on its way and the merger with US Airways will make a world of difference. We’ll see.

My alternative is Delta Air Lines. I am attracted to Delta’s increased number of flights out of the metro New York area, their new fleet and a more generous frequent-flyer program. So recently I decided to take a test run with Delta on a flight from Mexico, since it gave me direct service back to New York. On this flight, the attendant was handing out immigration cards and he skipped over me. I politely asked for a card and told him that he missed me.

“Get over it.”

That’s what he said to me.

At that moment, American began to look pretty good again, even though I would have had to take a connecting flight home with them on this route. How quickly the scales of the decision-weighing process had tipped the other way.

It only takes one wrong move to lose a client and you all need to be aware of that as you work on your client retention plans.

By the way, I thought about complaining to Delta but that is not my MO, I tend to just move on. I am that same way when I travel. Most times I don’t even let a hotel know that I am staying with them. I like to fly under the radar and truly enjoy the place as a regular guest and get a true sense of what that hotel is all about. Being pampered and VIP’d is nice but is generally not a true reflection of what your clients will receive upon their arrival. I must admit I do frequent Starwood Hotels and the SPG program does make me feel like a VIP. To see what Starwood President and CEO Frits van Paasschen and his team are up to, check out this month’s cover story on pages 34-37.


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