In earlier posts, I wrote about the travelers’ tribe and about designing for the frequent traveler. I have collected hotel screw-ups and talked about how loyalty in travel is messed up. On the other hand, I have written about my favorite hotels, travel experiences, destinations and even highlighted Kimpton’s acts of hospitality. It triggered the question what I’m looking for in a travel company. So, well, I guess some of the following things.

Getting the basics straight

Dirty hotel rooms. Websites that don’t work. Not posting points to my account. Not replying to my questions. I guess the basis is just getting the basics right.

Help me

Many travel products and services are developed from the ivory tower or isolated silo of a company. Some things are just friggin’ brilliant.

Like, the Icelandic service that helps you track weather and other safety-related things during your hike of for example the Laugavegur or Fimmvörðuháls treks.

Treat me as a human

Customer service sending me the same auto-reply again for the gazillionth time. Not doing anything on my birthday. All missed opportunities to treat me as a human.

One of the things I would like to see is companies helping me even if I’m not staying. E.g. having access to an airport lounge even if I’m not flying that airline that day. Having access to a hotel pool when I’m in the neighbourhood (like with the Indigo in Madrid), even though I’m not staying.

Be genuine

Many interactions in travel are scripted, so you’ll instantly feel when a staff member is genuine. The time when I had a dirty hotel room at QO Amsterdam and duty manager Thijs took it hyper personal to make sure my new room was clean as well as my next stay. The genuinely nice chats I have had during the years with staff, including Indigo Antwerp‘s Ben.

Take me seriously

If I got a penny for every time I got a standard email reply and/or had to ask for a supervisor to have a look at my case …

Surprise me

From time to time, I’d like to be surprised. A small thing you remembered about me, a small gift.

Think with me

After having a bad experience the stay before, I once got a suite upgrade and a bottle of champagne. Which is super nice and awesome and all, but the chance that I’m going to down a full bottle of champagne on Sunday evening is pretty close to zero. So really cool and really nice, but it just doesn’t make sense.

Involve me

Let me test stuff, ask me for ideas or feedback.

I love the relationship I have built over the years with the NS International team (the international branche of the Dutch Railways). Whenever I find bugs, need a feature or find something standing out in the journey, I can send an email to the team and tend to get a reply within 48hours with an explanation and follow-up actions.

In conclusion

I guess the red thread is building a genuine relationship. Too many travel companies build a transactional relationship rather than an emotional relationship.

What are you looking for in a travel company?

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