Last week, I did two things I shouldn’t have, but I’ve learned my lessons well.
First, I was going on a long trip and decided to buy a few new bathing suits. It’s “off-season” in New York and shopping options were limited, so I went online. I checked out two suits from a well-known vendor. When I saw how much shipping and handling would cost, I decided to be savvy. “This company always sends me e-mails for free shipping,” I said to myself in a knowing manner. And so I waited for a deal to come through. Well, the week got busy and I never received that discount e-mail. On Friday, I realized what had happened and it was too late to order the bathing suits. The situation reminded me of all of those “savvy” consumers who have become so used to getting travel deals that they hold out until they get them. The lesson for them this year is that the economy is improving and they may not get what they are waiting for. The lesson for me was that if you don’t act on what you want when you want it, you may end up by the pool in last year’s bathing suit. There’s value to paying a non-discounted price if you’re getting what you really want.
My second faux pas last week could have had much worse consequences. I’ve been traveling a lot lately and using the same car service to the airport for each trip. They have all my info on file, and making a reservation with them is easy. It’s all done by e-mail, which I prefer to taking my precious time to speak to a human being for simple services, especially when I’m extremely busy. So, Sunday morning, I was all packed and ready to go. I looked out my window to see if the car for the airport had arrived and it hadn’t. Nor had it after 10 minutes. I called the car service to see where it was. They didn’t have my reservation in the system because someone on Friday had gone home without making it. No car was coming for me that day and my flight was leaving in an hour and a half. Come to think of it, I hadn’t actually received an e-mail confirmation from them, I thought, as I looked around the house for my husband to give me a lift. He did (yay, husband!) and I made it in time, but isn’t that the worst way to start a trip? The lesson was so basic, I barely have to even state it for travel professionals, but confirming reservations and checking them twice, preferably by phone so that an actual human being on the other end can truly take care of you, is vital.
So, where was I going on that trip? To Waikiki, to the first-ever Hawaii Travel Exchange, presented by Travel Agent and Luxury Travel Advisor along with our partner, the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau. The event turned out to be amazing. We drew together 140 travel agents, who were flown in, courtesy of MLT Vacations, and 50 travel suppliers from Hawaii, who met in one-to-one meetings over two days. We also enjoyed networking sessions and some fabulous events at local hotels. There were many highlights, but the best thing is that there are now 140 travel agents out there who are extremely passionate and knowledgeable about selling Hawaii—our absolute goal. This is an amazing destination, which has so much going on. On Waikiki alone, there are new hotels, great restaurants, excellent shopping and, of course, the beach. The other islands are wonderful in their own right, and the more agents know about them, the better. Overall, Hawaii is a complex destination in that each island is different, and it’s important to be able to qualify which one will make your client the happiest. We feel we did that for this particular group we spent time with, and I know they’d agree.
I guess that is another lesson I’ve learned recently: Knowledge is the power that helps you sell and sell well. I think I prefer this one over the previous two I wrote about above. It’s a bit less harrowing, but it’s a good one.