I just finished booking our family vacation. We’ll be spending a week at a fabulous resort on the beautiful island of St. John in the Virgin Islands. We’re all looking forward to it.
I bring this up now because I just got the receipt for my final payment – and that’s all I got. What a missed opportunity for my travel agency! There are few industries under more intense fire from commoditization as the leisure travel agency industry – and all my agency sent me was a receipt. There was not even a note! I felt I had just bought something significant (I certainly paid a significant amount for it) and I had nothing to show for it. I wanted to tell my friends about this ‘new thing’ I just bought, but I had nothing to show them.
What could my travel agency have done? I don’t know precisely (it’s their job to figure out what their client experience objectives should be) but here are some ideas:
- A pre-trip photo album of things to see and do on St. John,
- A nicely printed list of scenic attractions and events so my family and I could start discussing what we want to do, or not do (and also talk to our friends further spreading the word about the destination and our travel agent),
- Some beach items for the kids
Don’t get me wrong. My travel agency is very good and they were terrific when it came to helping us decide where to go. The problem is that my ‘buying experience’ ended the moment I gave them my credit card number. I feel like I’m missing something.
Travel agents (and virtually every other service business) face the challenge of selling intangibles – like service, selection and expertise. The best thing someone can do when selling intangibles is to create deliverable that make the intangibles more tangible (this is why Disney World sells Mouse Ears).
I don’t mean to pick on travel agencies. Businesses of all types regularly miss critical opportunities to enhance the client experience. Too often companies try to come up with something big to prove how much they care about their customers when a small touches like these can make the difference between a good experience and a great one.
A great time for a company to remind customers of all the wonderful things they’ve done for them and how much they appreciate their business is at the critical touch point of sending them the invoice. Had my travel agency done this, my focus would have been on the number of things I was looking forward to on my vacation instead of the numbers preceding the comma on the final bill.