Leading Hotels of the World – Marketing Conference Keynote

My presentation, “Deconstructing Distribution – It’s All About the Customer” for the Leading Hotels of the World Sales, Marketing & Distribution Conference in Bonn, Germany focused on the luxury hotel and resort customer, hospitality industry distribution channels and the future innovations that may be expected to impact the global hotel industry.

2010 Unsuspecting Travel Hero and Travel Zero Awards

Enterprise Rent-a-Car’s Seattle location received the 2010 Unsuspecting Travel Hero Award for providing a completely unexpected, pleasant, efficient and highly personalized experience with the typically mundane task of picking up an off-airport rental car. In a year highlighted by stays in luxury hotels, flying first class and endless discussions of how travel experiences can be improved, it is obvious that great service delivery and exceeding customer expectations still reigns supreme. Recognized for undermining its fundamental brand promise by gutting its hotel ratings policy, Hotwire received the 2010 Unsuspecting Travel Zero Award. Hotwire’s new hotel ratings criteria not only replaces formerly clear and detailed descriptions with ambiguous and nonsensical drivel, but creates loopholes for the company to sneak lower quality hotels into higher categories. Hotwire’s leaders should be ashamed of confusing what they apparently thought was cleverness with outright customer hostility.

Hotwire Breaks Brand Promise by Gutting Rating System

Hotwire has undermined its brand promise by removing the specific criteria from its hotel ratings used to differentiate hotel classifications. Additionally, by benchmarking hotels using competitive online travel sites with incompatible rating scales, Hotwire may inaccurately classify hotels. In the example provided, Hotwire staunchly defends its flawed rating process for a hotel that it rates higher than sister websites Expedia, Hotels.com and TripAdvisor. Worse yet, these policies and processes have caused them to lose their customer service focus.

Story of Two Deaf & Blind, but Mostly Dumb Airlines

Flight arrangements for a recent business trip turn into a nightmare when Delta and US Airways exhibit consistent customer service failures highlighting unanswered phones, silent Twitter accounts, missed flights, botched refunds and inept ticket agents. In many cases, the carriers were simply deaf and blind when it came to customer needs and understanding of internal policies. In others, the airlines were simply dumb when it came to proactively resolving the customer service breaks that they had caused – with the exception of except for one lone employee.

2009 Unsuspecting Travel Hero and Travel Zero Awards

Four Seasons’ Santa Barbara Resort, The Biltmore received the 2009 Unsuspecting Travel Hero Award for proactively responding to a guest who had an issue with the music playing on the radio after the hotel’s turn down service made up the room. A relatively small issue that was cleverly identified and elegantly addressed in a highly personalized manner. Recognized for its multi-faceted, yet consistently customer hostile advance seat assignment policy, AirTran Airways received the 2009 Unsuspecting Travel Zero Award. The AirTran policies fundamentally insult a traveler’s intelligence while simultaneously wasting their time – truly a remarkable accomplishment.