"Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going."
- Paul Theroux

AIRDA NewsDesk

LETTER FROM PRINCIPAL ADVISOR

January 2015

Last week, I met a young corporate manager at the golf club. I soon realized that we had similar interests, so I invited him to join me for lunch. Our lunch hour was an amazing window to a young professionals world, circa 2014. Or maybe 2015, as we have just entered another new year.

I would like to narrate my discussion with him, as five things I learnt about young professionals, over lunch. This is essential reading, for anyone in the hospitality business – right from resort owners, trainers, HR teams, and those interacting directly with customers.

My chat was also a good example of the changing profile of young customers we could encounter these days ...

Lesson 01: I will not leave anything to the last minute ...

I remember my Dad getting tense about holidays that he had promised us. Everyone would be wondering whether we would finally go, or not. We probably got a nod, one day before departure – work came first and holidays were an accidental bonus. How we travelled, where we stayed, or what we did during a holiday was a guessing game as we went along. Today, in total contrast, I wouldn’t like to keep my family on tenterhooks – which means I don’t like the idea of leaving things to the last minute. Vacations are no more a guessing game in the family.

Lesson 02: If I promise my wife a holiday, I won’t change my plans – come what may ...

We had made elaborate plans for our first timeshare holiday – we had enrolled in January last year. And closer to our scheduled dates, I realized that my boss was getting antsy about my vacation – even though I had filled in the mandatory forms earlier in the year. It was a new client pitch and I was probably the most competent person to make it. After a quiet moment of constructive thinking I realized that there was a message to get across – I couldn’t be postponing a vacation each time there was an emergency. The only option was a serious chat with the boss to push the client engagement by one week. To my surprise, it was easily done - it’s just that we were hesitant to bring it up with the client.

Lesson 03: I will plan my vacation with the same seriousness, as planning work

I plan my workdays carefully, with elaborate time slots and schedules, so why not put the same level of planning into our annual vacation? So our dates are slotted early and with clear confirmations from the resort. Our tickets are booked well in advance, with detailing in place on transits, airport pickups and road connects. I also know enough about activities at the resort and the kind of food they’re going to be serving. Other than the color and texture of the bedspreads, I know exactly what we’re going to be doing during our holiday week.

Lesson 04: I will pull out all the stops when it comes to having a good time ...

This is not to recap what a difficult time we had during our growing years, but the contrast you can see in terms of how professionals weigh options on work and vacations. I remember, when we went on holidays with my dad, we looked for good deals on hotels, ate at the most inexpensive restaurants and skimped on the joy rides when it came to entertainment. What’s the point in calling it a holiday, when you’re going to tighten your belt? This is when you need to loosen up and enjoy the rewards of working hard during the year – whether it’s at school, home, or at work. I believe that you need to pull out all the stops, when it comes to holiday time – splurge, spoil yourself, go on a binge - you’ve earned it.

Lesson 05: I will makes notes on the good experiences, and the bad...

Most people don’t make a note of the pointers you could leave behind as customer feedback – on service, food, attention to detail and a sense of feel good on customer interactions. People invariably share complaints, not the good stuff that they experienced. I always believe in giving a balanced overview of my holiday experience, with feedback that includes the good points and areas that need looking into. I don’t see this as complaining, but constructive feedback.

At the end of my 45 minute discourse with the young lad, I found that my drink had regained room temperature and my lunch had gone cold – I was so riveted with his sense of purpose and commitment in virtually everything that he did.

That was an eye-opener in terms of a changing customer profile – very clear in terms of what he’s looking for, and knows how to get it. With these thoughts, I leave you with my New Year message: have a good time, enjoy yourself, and pull out all the stops :)

B. S. Rathor
Principal Advisor & Member - Executive Committee

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