In the Trenches: Repeat Customers Are Key to Growth
For the third year in a row, our travel concierges spent a week handling a group’s flights to a big conference in Colorado. The repeat business for an annual event afforded us an excellent opportunity to examine our performance and chart our progress.
When we first worked with this group in 2010, there were only three of us really stretching our capabilities to deal with a load of people. (At least, at the time it seemed like a load.) About 40 people were traveling on flights booked by a travel agent. We just had to make sure things went well — and fix them if they didn’t. I don’t remember that year being particularly difficult.
In 2011, we handled about 60 travelers, and I remember things being a little rougher logistically. We had the same number of concierges assisting more travelers, and I seem to recall a few more problem flights that required our attention. It was a tiring project, but we survived and made everything work.
This year, our role expanded again. Although the number of travelers increased by only a few, to about 65, we were asked to book all of the flights this time. We were also brought in as “point people” and played a more active role in making sure everyone got where they needed to go on the ground as well as in the air. With the added responsibility, we had four concierges following the travelers. I followed only one traveler myself, so I could hang back, run the operation, and help if any problems arose.
My strategy worked well. Sure, there were flight delays, and a few people were even stuck overnight when they missed an international connection. But we were prepared to handle it — and got the itineraries changed quickly. What was most remarkable was that we accommodated a pretty heavy load of non-conference customers at the same time.
Sure, we worked hard, but we had everything under control. Compared with the first year, when fewer of us were stretched to handle far fewer travelers, it’s great to see how far we’ve come!