I just returned home from a trip where I flew Delta Airlines. Normally there is nothing remarkable about doing so, but on this trip there were several occasions that gave me pause — in a good way.
> When I checked in, there was a notice that the trip was oversold and I could check a box if I was willing to be on a list to give up my seat for a voucher. This makes far more sense than having the bidding wars at the airport, but it was new to me.
> Before I got to the airport, I got a call from Delta asking if my travel plans were flexible and if I could take an alternate flight. When I said no, the caller was quite pleasant and “looked forward to seeing me at the airport soon.”
> At the airport, there was a “Have one on us” cart waiting at the gate. Passengers could take a bottle of cold water or a bag of snacks for their enjoyment on the plane or in the waiting area.
> The person who took my bag said he would be “happy to get that bag for you, sweetheart.”
> When we landed, there was a popcorn cart in the baggage claim area with free popcorn while you waited for your bags.
> On the return trip, there was a cart of complimentary coffee and a handwritten note thanking us for our business.
> The pilot used the words “thank you for your loyalty,” a subtle but important distinction in the airline wars.
None of these incidents was monumental, but it caused me to pause and take notice. And then I learned that Delta employees had recently undergone hospitality training with Danny Meyer, CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group in New York. Danny has written several books on hospitality* and is one of the gurus in the field.
And it occurred to me that was the distinction. Delta was actually providing a level of hospitality, not just service. The change was noticeable.
There is a world of difference between a customer and a guest. How can you treat those you serve like the latter?
*See Blog #92 Salt shaker, September 1, 2012
from Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business
CAE = Columbia, SC airport