Your Travel Busi­ness

Travel Bulletin - - CONTENTS -

We’ve all seen them, sports taken to the limit of hu­man en­durance, usu­ally re­quir­ing some kind of rub­ber band ap­pa­ra­tus with a full med­i­cal team on the side­line. Ev­ery­thing taken to ex­tremes cap­tures the imag­i­na­tion of the pub­lic be­cause it’s hard to be­lieve any­one would put them­selves into such sit­u­a­tions. Busi­ness is never as ex­treme un­less you are in the gun trade or need to nav­i­gate the Box­ing Day sales. Yet there are ex­treme lim­its for busi­ness phi­los­o­phy, es­pe­cially in the cred­i­bil­ity and trust area of cus­tomer deal­ings. Imag­ine if your clients be­lieved ev­ery­thing you said, ev­ery­thing you wrote and ev­ery­thing you pro­vided as a ser­vice or prod­uct? No strug­gle to reach targets, no ef­fort in mak­ing a profit and no tra­vail in keep­ing clients. The above is seen as some kind of cor­po­rate nir­vana, a com­pany with­out fault, a busi­ness with no agenda but to sat­isfy their clients no mat­ter what they have to go through for the end re­sult. For too long, be­ing rea­son­ably trust­wor­thy seemed good enough for busi­ness. To have never been let down by a busi­ness leads to ex­treme trust and com­pa­nies are slowly com­ing to the re­al­i­sa­tion this level of cred­i­bil­ity can be the pin­na­cle of suc­cess. In­di­vid­u­ally, po­si­tions of ex­treme trust used to be the do­main of medicine, air­line pi­lots and su­per-heroes but busi­nesses are work­ing to­wards trans­par­ent re­la­tion­ships with their clients that could see some achieve “hon­esty as a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage”. Don Pep­pers in his book Ex­treme Trust, sees hon­esty as the strong­est busi­ness strat­egy and it’s hard to crit­i­cise a con­cept hard-wired into hu­man na­ture. Yet call­ing it ex­treme, makes me think the con­cept is hard to grasp for a lot of peo­ple. Watch­ing out for your clients’ in­ter­ests, even when they aren’t, makes you what Pep­pers calls “proac­tively trustable”. Ac­cord­ing to Pep­pers, ”Ex­treme trust like this en­gages peo­ple’s nat­u­ral im­pulse to show em­pa­thy, tran­scend­ing the com­mer­cial do­main of mone­tary in­cen­tives and tap­ping into the so­cial do­main of friend­ship, shar­ing, and rec­i­proc­ity”. Face to face trust is where bricks and mor­tar busi­nesses have some ad­van­tage over the on­line world, where con­nec­tions are not so eas­ily made. Body lan­guage and fa­cial nu­ances miss­ing in on­line trans­ac­tions, re­quire web busi­nesses to be so trans­par­ent that trust is only built via con­sis­tently ex­ceed­ing ser­vice and cred­i­bil­ity lev­els. The lack of trust both on­line and off­line sees the so­cial me­dia land­scape lit­tered with the bod­ies of busi­nesses that treated clients badly and sold shoddy prod­ucts and ser­vices. Travel caught be­tween bricks and bytes has seen dis­rup­tion erode client loy­alty to such an ex­tent that de­ci­sions are more of­ten dol­lar based, not giv­ing con­sul­tants the time or ben­e­fit of build­ing up trust. Like banks, credit card com­pa­nies, travel needs to be “proac­tively trustable” and that can only hap­pen one hand­shake at a time. The fu­ture for travel, on­line or oth­er­wise, seems trans­par­ently ob­vi­ous, I’ll only trust you if you show me you are com­pletely open, hon­est and want me as a life­time cus­tomer. If you do that, then you have my ex­treme trust. No bungee cord re­quired.

Com­pa­nies are slowly com­ing to the re­al­i­sa­tion this level of cred­i­bil­ity can suc­cess’ be the pin­na­cle of

Oliver Tams is di­rec­tor of strate­gic part­ner­ships for Think Pro­cure­ment and has more than 30 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in the travel in­dus­try, es­pe­cially in cor­po­rate travel. Ol­lie has worked with a range of com­pa­nies from start-ups to es­tab­lished busi­nesses, in­clud­ing GDS Amadeus, and lead­ing the TMC divi­sion for Busi­ness Se­lect.

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