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.  

Some examples:
> 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?

— beth triplett

*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

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