Never Give Up

John McMahon

John McMahon

Several months ago I wrote about my back-and-forth decision to switch preferred airlines from American to Delta. I told you how I agonized over it as I saw my loyalty being pulled to Delta based on increased service to the New York area and upgraded planes and facilities. 

Pushing me that way was a tired American Airlines and a potential merger that would have me compete with more frequent flyers for those rare upgrades that were point based. I am a true believer that if a seat or a room is available and going unused, you should give it to your best clients, points or no points.

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On that inaugural flight on Delta, I caught a flight attendant having a bad day—an experience that sent me back to American like a boy running back to an old girlfriend. My take-away was that it only takes one mistake to lose a client. In our business we put our clients in the hands of suppliers who must deliver on our promise; so only sell brands that you can trust.

Fast Forward: I received several calls from Delta wanting to speak to me. The old girlfriend, American, didn’t even respond to my uncomplimentary comments about my dissatisfied relationship. My Delta contact was Chuck Imhof, staff vice president, who didn’t make excuses; he wanted to fix the problem. That is my philosophy as well. No one is perfect in this world and unpleasant situations occur. What makes the client happy is fast resolution, not making excuses about why something happened.

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Ultimately, Chuck knew he had a superior product, so his goal was to get me on his planes, in his terminals, and meet the employees of Delta Air Lines. Well, I did just that, and I can tell you everything is just what Chuck promised it would be. Let me start from the beginning: The app is better, the terminals are new and fresh, and the planes are up-to-date and clean. The outdoor lounge at JFK’s Terminal 4 is something out of a rooftop bar in SoHo. The most important factor is the people that take you on the journey. The folks at Delta genuinely care more than those of other airlines I have flown.

What I learned was, don’t just sell yesterday’s brands that are tried-and-true. Look for partners that are evolving for the future and understand today’s needs, that you can grow with. And don’t give up—Chuck certainly didn’t. The funny part is, I am still waiting for the old girlfriend to call me. I don’t think she’s even realized I’ve left her.

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