|Do you really understand your client? Very recently my husband and I spent 5 days in Barbados. We were both in need of a break and I was celebrating a birthday so we decided to take a short holiday. Normally, I do my own research and bookings but this time, I decided to ask for recommendations and we ended up using a travel agent we had never used before.|
I was told that she knew the island like the back of her hand. She was a no nonsense kind of person and asked me point blank “what do you want to spend”? It took her no time to make her recommendation of an all-inclusive, deluxe ocean view accommodation we were in search of and we told her to proceed with the booking. In hindsight, she didn’t understand her client. She didn’t ask anywhere near enough questions and I ended cleaning up after her mistakes as best I could. It is now clear I didn’t ask enough questions either.
|In addition to screw ups on the airline tickets, the hotel had its share of issues too. To be fair to the hotel, the room was indeed superior. Ocean view however was approximately a 10′ view through the bottom of the trees a hundred yards or so away but it did also overlook a beautiful pool. The sound the waves was distinct and welcomed. The surroundings of the hotel were beautiful as well. Lovely courtyards, open and airy feel to the whole resort. Everything on the outside looked great but this is where the honeymoon ended.|
The hotel had many families most with small children, many crying infants. The food was very disappointing – small portions, not well presented and desserts you would have to scour the plate to find. The liquor was watered down and the house wines were awful. Entertainment was virtually non-existent.
We made a point of attending the Manager’s cocktail party the evening we arrived. The Manager was quick to ask us what they could do to make the resort better. Having been there only a few short hours, I was only able to supply him with a couple of small things I had picked up on. I would have had a lot more to share by the end of our stay. He mentioned that that particular resort seemed to cater more to a North American market. Interesting, as there were only a few North Americans there during our stay – the bulk were from the U.K. not surprising as the pound would go a long way in Barbados – probably close to 4 to 1. We talked to a few other North Americans at the resort and they were not impressed overall with the venue.
The whole resort seemed to lack infrastructure. It looked good on the outside but when you looked closer you could see that the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing. We tried on three separate occasions to cancel a birthday cake we never ordered! A few times I overheard the staff at the service desk being raked over the coals for bad customer service. For a self-proclaimed 1st class resort, the proof was in the pudding.
|Why am I writing this post? Am I being ungrateful here? Did we have a bad time? No. The truth is we did get away and enjoy some real quality time together and get in some much deserved rest and there were some wonderful moments. A special dinner out on the night of my birthday at Champers Restaurant and the sunset cruise was worth the trip alone. But I wanted peace and quiet, great food every day and the deluxe feel I was looking for. I didn’t get that.|
What this really drilled home for me from this experience was the lack of understanding of who the client is and what they want. Interestingly I found this particular resort on Facebook but they indicate their page is disappearing in favour of the general page for the Chain. All their wall posts have been removed as well. Telling? Perhaps. As a Social Media Specialist, I tell my clients to make sure they have their ear to the ground when it comes to their brand – to listen to what people are saying about it and making sure they are engaging people, particularly those that have negative feedback and then take that information back to their organization and make positive change. And yes, I did post on the chain wall that we were less than impressed. I am still waiting to see if there will be a response.
Do you really understand what your client wants? Have you asked enough questions? Do you check back often to make sure your client is still happy? Are you all shiny on the outside but lack the structure to deliver on your promise? Are you what you say you are? Says who? Made me think about my own business. Does it make you think of yours?
Suffice it to say I have not heard from the travel agent to find out how our trip was. I doubt I will. In the end it wasn’t all about the money. It was about the experience. Had she asked more questions and I had probed more, we likely would have ended up somewhere else. Safe to say the next trip, I’ll be back to doing my own homework and booking.
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Until next time,
While physically located in Newmarket, ON where Joanne lives with her family, she is virtually yours, anywhere.