You’re only tackling half the problem, or less…

The busiest travel time of the year is upon us, and let’s be real for a second – at some point it won’t be pretty. You’ll hear someone argue, you’ll probably see someone cry and inevitably, a flight will be cancelled or hotel overbooked. It happens. When these things do happen, people very quickly find their voice. They take to Twitter, phones, managers and anyone who will listen to reprimand a bad employee, but that’s only half the battle. Actually, it’s even less…

a sign in an airportPraise The Good

This article is based on the notion that too many travelers make one huge mistake: they fail to compliment the good. How do you turn a bad airline or hotel into a good one? Sure, getting rid of the bad helps, but actually promoting and identifying people who personify the integrity of the brand is far more valuable. You want the people who take care of customers, show passion and love their work to rise. Just because you help identify the 10% or so of bad ones, that doesn’t do anything to help identify the 1% that should become leaders.

United Airlines

Your thoughts on where this is going are wrong. United had a beautiful Twitter moment this week, which seems counter to everything else they’ve made the news for recently and it’s only because a traveler did the right thing.

Dear airlines and hotels, more this please.

What an incredible move from the cabin crew member. In this singular act, the person showed all the traits necessary to become head of recruitment for the airline and lead training courses. The world needs more of these special moments in travel, and if you spend equal, if not more time using social media to praise and empower helpful employees, rather than just try to get the bad ones fired – we just might get them. To make sure your message is received…

  • Be nosy. Ask for a name and commend them on the spot. Let them know you plan to sing their praises to the travel company they represent.
  • Send a direct message to the airline on social media, or call. If you’re on a call and the call center employee is great, ask to speak to their supervisor to put in a good word.
  • Speak to the manager. If in a real life position where a manager may be around, ask to speak to the manager in person. They love being called for praise more than complaints.
  • Write an old school letter to the CEO, or head of customer service. These letters get routed to the right place, and *sometimes* CEO’s deserve to see the good stuff too.

All you need to do is watch Love Actually to realize that travel is a thing of happiness. If you help the people who make your travels happy reach positions of authority, they’re far more likely to find other people who share the same passion.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I completely agree. Just sent a thank you email this weekend to the Hyatt McCormick Place manager:

    “I wanted to thank you for extending my late check out until 4pm. I was expecting the usual 2pm checkout as an Explorist, especially since I know that the hotel is sold out for the AAO meeting. I have my family with me while I am attending the AAO meeting at McCormick and was wondering how to occupy their time after 2pm. This is one of the rare times where a late checkout was a necessity rather than luxury for me.

    I also stayed here at the last AAO meeting and remembered being surprised to be given a suite without using a suite upgrade reward. Before this year, I was a Globalist/Diamond member for several years, staying at more than 60-70 unique Hyatt properties worldwide. These two experiences have been two of the best examples of Elite recognition.”

  2. I completely agree with everything in this post. I have done this numerous times, including tweeting at corporate during the experience to recognize the awesome experience I’m having. I always ask for people’s names when we’re staying at hotels so that I can include them in an email to hotel management. In fact, my wife and I regularly keep a shared document when traveling so we can write down everybody who helped us so they can get the recognition they deserve.

    I see so many people who only think to talk to a company when something goes wrong, but I try to go out of my way to talk to and about a company when things go right.

  3. As a nation I think we are very poor at shouting out when service is good, or someone helps you out, or even just to say thank you. All to quickly when something goes wrong we take to social media to vent our anger or frustration. But how life affirming is it to take two minutes to say thanks, or great service or star employee? Takes no time at all and for all we know, that employee may be having the day from hell but manages to go above and beyond just for you… nice, say thanks.

  4. The problem with shouting out about great service is that in some instances what you perceive as excellent service may in fact be a violation of company policy and get the employee who you were trying to praise in trouble. For instance, in your example above, I would not be surprised if the praise tweet was seen by someone in management who assumes the flight attendant gave the mother a free glass of wine which she might otherwise not be entitled to plus I am sure legal counsel would be strongly opposed to flight attendants holding passengers children for fear of the airline being sued if the child was injured.

    While you may think I am nuts for making the above statement, I have actually seen it happen at multiple companies that I have worked for. In some instances the poor customer service from some companies is a result of managements focus and the company’s culture, which results in managers who do not want their employees to be praised or rewarded. However, these are the companies that customers should avoid at all costs.

    While I often praise employees who go above and beyond directly and sometimes even send letters or tweets to companies, I also am always concerned about providing too much detail which management may view as a reason for writing up an employee.

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