In the Trenches: Ramping Up for the Holidays
There's no doubt that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I'm drooling just sitting here thinking about stuffing my face with turkey. But things are different this year since my small business actually has to ramp up instead of ramping down like most.
In the past, Thanksgiving was the welcome sign that business was winding down for the year. Strategy meetings used to be replaced with holiday parties and a silly number of baked goods lining the work kitchen. But now, it just means there's a whole lot more work ahead.
When you think about the two holidays where travel is most important, it's Thanksgiving and Christmas. When more people travel, my business has more people to help. So that means that I try to travel at off-peak periods. (I'm actually writing this while driving to a Thanksgiving gathering.) It also means being ready for difficult situations.
Since everyone wants to travel this time of year, airplanes are packed for days at a time. If someone gets stuck in a snowstorm or gets bumped off a flight, there might not be another option for days. That's bad under any circumstance, but it's even worse during the holidays.
Inevitably, the person who has been wronged is traveling to spend a last Christmas with his ailing mother. Or she may be introducing her baby to her family for the first time. Few people travel on a whim. It's always an important occasion.
And since it's so important, people are extra-stressed about the whole ordeal. When things go wrong, and little can be done to fix the problem, travelers get unhappy quickly.
What we do is be as prepared as possible. We monitor the weather during the holidays more closely than usual. We keep our clients updated frequently, and we make sure to get on the horn the second something goes wrong. If there's one seat left on an alternate flight, we want to be the ones to get it.
So yes, I do miss the days when December meant leaving work early and not stressing about deadlines. But when most businesses ramp down, some, like travel and retail, have to ramp up.
Hopefully nobody needs our help and everything goes smoothly this holiday season, but that's probably wishful thinking. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there. Now I have to get back to work.
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.