Service Is All You Have


John McMahon and Ron Cerko
John McMahon, left, with Enterprise Rent-a-Car’s Ron Cerko

When you think about it, all travel agents sell the same products. You generally get the same price for what you sell. If you know your stuff, you understand your clients’ needs. The hardest part of your job is picking the proper destination, hotel or cruise ship. If you get that right, you generally have a satisfied customer.

The most overlooked part of your job is customer service. When I spend time with the top-selling agents in this country, the part of their business they are most passionate about is not travel—it is customer care. They love taking care of clients and servicing their needs. If you ever get a chance to meet Anne Scully from McCabe World Travel or Peter Carideo from CRC Travel, stop them and ask about customer service. Trust me, they are not shy and will tell you a thing or two. With them, it’s service first and travel second. And if you all basically sell the same product, all things being equal, service is the only way to stand out.

I recently had the opportunity to rent a car from Enterprise. I have rented from all the major car rental agencies and all I ever really cared about was how fast I could get into the car. Over the years they all seemed to provide the same service and I didn’t really have a particular brand preference. I then experienced Enterprise. Upon check-in I was greeted by the usual welcome and once my reservation was confirmed, the person checking me in walked me to the car. In a few minutes, I was asked how my day was, what type of business I was in, where I was headed and if I needed directions. I enjoyed the pleasant small talk; it’s the kind of thing that makes a traveler feel good. Before, I used to make my decision quickly, with as little communication as possible because I saw car rental as a commodity and not something I wanted to connect with customer service for. Enterprise turned out to be a nice find and I put it on top of my list. I told this story to Ron Cerko, Enterprise Rent-a-Car’s vice president, travel industry development (pictured with me above). He told me this wasn’t an isolated experience and all customer agents are trained to handle clients this way.

So, I highly recommend using Enterprise. Enjoy the customer service and you might learn a thing or two. I did.

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