In the Trenches: Dealing With the Holidays
Every time Thanksgiving happens, it gets me thinking about how our business ought to run during the holidays. What days and hours should we stay open? How should we communicate this information to our clients? These are two particularly tough questions for Cranky Concierge, because holiday travel is a big deal.
This year, Thanksgiving went very well. Although we didn’t believe the storm on the East Coast last Wednesday would complicate matters much, newscasters scared plenty of travelers into thinking it would. That brought us a fair number of last-minute sign-ups for flight monitoring. However, other than a few minor delays,
our clients didn’t have any issues. With all quiet on the weather front for the rest of the weekend, we received no urgent requests.
Of course, when we’re already monitoring a flight, our business hours aren’t an issue: Our concierges follow a customer’s travel at all times. When someone signs up in advance, we provide a phone number that they can call 24/7 for immediate assistance. The issue of holiday hours applies to nonurgent matters.
In general, we’re open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Pacific). That’s when we help clients with flight planning, book award travel, set up future monitoring, and answer general questions. Because of the nonurgent nature of these requests, I have no qualms about closing on Thanksgiving Day and the day after, so that my employees can be with their families.
But a funny thing happens when families get together on Thanksgiving: They make future travel plans, and they often want to start working on their itineraries right away. I was astounded at how many requests for our services came in on Thanksgiving Day itself. But I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, given that planning is what families do when they get together.
What did I do with these requests? On Friday, I spent a couple of hours sending quick emails people, letting them know we’d get back to them on Monday after the long weekend. But it has me wondering whether we should be open on the day after Thanksgiving. (I refuse to consider asking people to work on Thanksgiving Day, despite current retail trends.) Or should we simply better communicate when we’re closed? Will that be enough? And what about Christmas? Dec. 25 falls on a different day of the week every year. Should we be open the day before and the day after?
I’d love your opinion on the matter. Tell me: Do you like to plan travel during the holidays? Would you keep your business open? Please leave a comment below.
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.