In the Trenches: Serving Different Types of Customers
When I first started my travel concierge business, people asked me who my typical target client was. At the time, I thought I knew who would flock to the service, but it turns out I was wrong.
It’s not that I had the wrong group pegged; it’s that the group was much broader than I expected. Despite this, I haven’t done much to cater to the needs of each group. I wonder if I should.
Originally, I figured Cranky Concierge would be most attractive to infrequent, inexperienced travelers. I described these customers as the people who, when contacting a major airline, get routed to call-center agents in India. (Calls from frequent fliers are typically sent to better-trained agents in the U.S.) It turns out that sporadic travelers have been a big part of our success, but we’ve also attracted other types of clients. For example, we’ve helped frequent travelers who know the booking system well — including those with the highest elite status in airline programs.
Our services are very personal, but on the marketing side, we advertise what we do the same way, regardless of who comes to us. It’s only after they sign up that we learn what they like and tailor our work to meet their needs. That has me wondering if we should market different types of services to appeal to different people when they first hear about us. The impression we make when they first learn about our service could make all the difference between them signing up and them walking away.
We do have a small-business service that is differentiated from our basic flight monitoring and planning services, but that’s about it. I keep thinking that there has to be some way to market valuable additional services to frequent fliers. The problem is that each client we deal with has unique needs. The only real trend I’ve noticed is that frequent fliers expect quicker, more knowledgeable responses. We could raise our revenues and be more attractive to that group if we could find a good way to
accommodate them. But so far, I haven’t found a great way to convey that we’re nimble and able to react on demand.
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.