In the Trenches: Handling Mt. Everest

BrettSnyder by Brett Snyder on August 3, 2011
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This weekend is going to be mass insanity for our business. See, we’re usually prepared for a normal volume of travelers and even a slight increase, but this weekend we’re going to be doing way above the usual. Way above.

That’s because this weekend, we’re providing our flight monitoring services for more than 50 different groups descending on a single city from all over the U.S. and around the world. We’re obviously not staffed to be able to handle this on a regular basis, and big jobs like these force us to use our resources more wisely. And with adequate preparation, we can actually handle them quite efficiently.

The key is organization and consistency. We can set up our system so we have all the information for each one of our groups right in front of us. It’s like having a command center where we can watch from up high and then tackle the places that need the most attention. By having all the concierges on alert that day, we have more than the usual amount of attention being paid to the operation. We’re also bringing back a former concierge who will have some free time this weekend to help us out.

We’ll plan on setting up some key basic messaging that can make it easy to prepare and send communications. We do some of that on a regular basis, but we can tweak those to be ready for this particular instance. The basic monitoring should move like clockwork. It’s the unknown that makes me nervous.

I’d say that I feel pretty good about this, but there’s a huge asterisk out there. If the weather goes downhill in this one city where everyone will converge, then it could get ugly very quickly. We’ll certainly be able to handle the usual problems, but if everyone has a problem at once, that’s where it gets very difficult. So what can we do in a situation like that? I’m still working on that one, but the idea is to have team assistance so that one person can be looking for alternatives while the others handle the customer contact. In other words, we’ll move into an alternate operating mode if all hell breaks loose.

No matter what, this will be a very fun challenge, and it will help me personally to understand how the business will look once it has grown to this level on a regular basis. It’s nice to test the system in ways like this from time to time. We should be ready to meet the challenge… weather permitting.

BrettSnyder

Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.

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