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

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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