Your Travel Business
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.