Heading to the check-in line for your flight, you get shoulder-checked by a soccer mom trying to get the family on their flight to Florida.
Then, after a 45-minute wait, you finally make it to the counter only to be rudely addressed about the size of your bag by the attendant.
Did everyone in the travel world wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or has the travel industry lost its manners?
Maybe it’s a little of both. But over the years there’s definitely been a disconnect between travelers and providers.
Don Brauninger, a manager for an emergency services company in Haymarket, Virginia, believes that the change from saying “you’re welcome” to “no problem” reveals more insight than one would think, according to USA Today.
The response “no problem” infers that your patronage might otherwise be a hardship, explains Brauninger.
This is a good point. Customer service used to be a priority among industries, which in turn ensured returning business and referrals.
According to USA Today, “Respect is a hot topic in travel again,” bringing awareness to the fact that a shift between the industry and customer is vital to maintaining a positive relationship.
A fast-paced society combined with an increase in sheer volume of patrons has taken the personal touch out of customer service.
Always looking out for number one, profits rule above all else, and the little guy gets taken to the cleaners.
In the airline industry, more and more services are no longer offered as complementary, but instead, have become additional charges.
It used to be customary to receive accommodations to some degree during a flight – snacks, blankets, headphones, drinks, and movies. Now, most of these are going to cost you above and beyond what you already paid in airfare.
The customer no longer feels respected, or appreciated. Plus, the customer is expected to pay gratuity to the obviously reluctant attendants for services they used to receive for free.
Etiquette expert Lisa Grotts says she will not reward the decline of respect in the travel industry, reports USA Today.
“Will I be courteous? asked Grotts. “You bet. Will I say please and thank you? Always. Will I be tipping? No.”
Tipping, in essence, should be extended when you receive service above what you’re paying for. When an attendant simply hands you a blanket because you’re cold, you shouldn’t have to pay for that.
Keeping patrons comfortable during their flight shows that their business is appreciated and offers them an enjoyable experience.
Ted Scofield, an attorney and author who frequently travels, told USA Today how the industry’s desire to boost profits has caused patron relations to suffer, “When a consumer feels nickel and dimed, when the travel experience takes a back seat to profit, then respect suffers. When you are measured and promoted and possibly compensated based on your ability to drive profits, customers become cash machines.”
Scofield makes the valid point that the goal shouldn’t be to get the highest return in profit, but to create the best “travel experience” for the patron.
However, blame cannot be solely put on the travel industry. Patrons are often just as bad.
Our progressive society has bred an epidemic of entitlement which has seeped into all aspects of life – work, home, school, and travel.
Patricia Hajifotiou, owner of a European tour company, tells USA Today that, “The lack of respect that I have seen is firmly with the customer.”
She continues, “People are harried, out of time and so much more often feel entitled. And that adds up to a real lack of respect towards the person on the other side of the desk.”
We have all seen it when a customer is unhappy with a purchase and marches up to the manager demanding a refund or exchange, all the while demeaning the employee.
A little kindness goes a long way. Greeting someone with a smile, talking in a calm voice, and using manners is much more likely to get you the result you want. At the very least, it makes the interaction much more pleasant for everyone involved.
Disrespecting someone immediately makes them become defensive and uncooperative. “Respect breeds respect,” says Beverly Randolph to USA Today.
Randolph, founder of The Protocol School of Indianapolis, believes, “Companies must foster a culture of respecting one another from the top down. In respectful workplaces, employees are more engaged and productive; they’ll also be less stressed and genuinely happier – translating into happier travelers”
So who are the happiest travelers?
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index and the Department of Transportation, the top-rated airlines are Alaska Airlines and JetBlue.
The travel industry definitely needs an overhaul in respect, so let it start with you.
Please let us know in the comments section if you have experienced profound disrespect or respect when traveling.