Ever wonder why that guy got the upgrade to First Class and you didn’t? Or why you always seem to get a hotel room next to the elevator? Sometimes there are reasons, but there is always a way you can get better service – and upgrades – when you’re traveling. Here are 10 tips on how to get great service when traveling.
1. Don’t Yell
When you’re mad and frustrated it’s easy to raise your voice, but it’s true what your grandfather would say, “vinegar doesn’t catch flys”. Yelling doesn’t work when you’re trying to get something you need or want. Kindness kills. Kindness works. Use it.
2. Write About Your Experience – Good and Bad
More times than not we read about people bad experiences. Share the good ones too! Share often and everywhere – Twitter, Facebook (your page and the company’s), online review sites, etc. Make sure to use your real name so they know who you are. And if you really want to hit it home, write a good old fashion thank you note to the manager. Who knows, you might just end up with a little thank you yourself.
3. Sign Up for Loyalty Programs
Being a “preferred customer” helps when it comes to upgrades and getting a bit more attention when you’re checking into a hotel or flying. Even if you don’t travel a lot and rack up the points, having a loyalty membership to the airline or hotel you’re using will help if there are upgrades available; members are the first to be offered upgrades. (Need tips on increasing travel loyalty points when you’re not traveling?)
4. Just Ask
When you’re trying to get something just ask for it. When people book online – airline tickets, hotels, dinner reservations – and things are unavailable we tend to move on. Stop. If you REALLY want to try a new restaurant, call them. Yes, OpenTable is great for making reservations but many times there are only a few slots alloted to the site. Call and ask a real person to see if they can help you out. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been able to book hotel rooms and get dinner reservations that were unavailable online by picking up the phone and talking to a real person.
5. Dress to Impress
When I was a kid and we flew somewhere, I was told I had to dress-up. Back then it was a much bigger deal to fly… But for a kid who hated wearing dresses I detested it since dressing up meant wearing a dress. I hated wearing dresses. But, looking nice when flying was ingrained into my brain. Still to this day I try to look nice when I fly, albeit I rarely wear a dress. This little lesson has its perks though. Airlines are more prone to upgrade a passenger who is dressed well versus one who looks like they just rolled out of bed.
6. Want an Upgrade?
Why should someone behind the counter who is forced to smile all day yet is tired, grumpy and annoyed with people asking “do you have a better seat? hotel room? table?” help you? Give them a reason to help you. When you ask for a better room or seat provide a reason; you’re more likely to get a favorable response. For example, “Is there any way we could get a table by the window? It keeps my kids quite and entertained since they can watch people outside.” Or, “Can we try to get a room away from the elevators? My daughter is a light sleeper and I’d hate to have her disturb other guests if she wakes up.”
7. Learn the Language
No, you don’t have to go buy Rosetta Stone or take an intensive language class but learning a few key phrases will get you everywhere. Even having a cheat sheet, pocket translation book or translation app will help you ask questions and get directions. (Check out my post on 10 Translation Apps Reviewed.) I will say, if you can buy Rosetta Stone it will help with the basics and will give you something to do on a long flight.
8. Keep it Personal
Do you remember how embarrassed you would get when your mother would strike up a conversation with the sales clerk, telling her all about what type of pants or dresses she preferred to wear? Oh, ok, that’s just me… (I was mortified as a kid that my mom would do this, I mean really, she knew what she liked so she should be able to find it without bringing attention to herself.) What this taught me was that by sharing your likes and dislikes you find exactly what you want and save yourself time and headaches. When it comes to traveling and you’re asking your concierge or friend about places to visit in a certain area, let them know the things you like to do vs those you don’t For instance, if you’re allergic to shell fish, let them know so they will skip the best sea food restaurants in town. If you love history, the can get you in touch with walking history tours or note the historic sites to see.
9. Vent Productively
With social media it’s a lot easier to find the president of a company on Twitter, or pull his email off of LinkedIn. So why not reach out directly to them to let them know about your terrible, horrible, no good very bad experience? Well, for one, it’s probably not going to help. Instead, do some online research to find out who the right person is. Most companies have a customer support Twitter account or post on their site who the appropriate person is to address complaints to.
This goes back to the point about not yelling. Kindness will get you so much further in life. Smile when you’re frustrated and laugh when you want to yell.
Have you used any of these tactics to get better customer service? Have you found any other ways that have helped you get great service when traveling?