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American Airlines and Virgin American, vive la difference

Posted by Leo Jakobson on May 21, 2008

At the Incentive magazine Seventh Annual Industry Roundtable, which took place about two weeks ago, the discussion turned, at one point, to the new fee some airlines are charging to check a second bag. [You'll see excerpts in the June issue, and a full transcript online shortly.]

Brian Martenis, a long-time corporate travel planner who recently became managing director of Incentive Worldwide Travel, a new division of Philadelphia–based Gil Travel Tours, commented: “I don't know what we will do now with the $25 fee U.S. Air [recently announced] for the second checked bag. I mean, it's been two check bags forever… You know, that’s kind of crummy.”

So how happy will incentive planners be to hear today’s announcement from American Airlines that it will soon start charging passengers $15 to check the first bag and $25 to check a second (and $100 for each of the next three, and $200 after that)?

Continue reading "American Airlines and Virgin American, vive la difference" »

Learn How to Defuse People

Posted by Training Magazine on May 20, 2008

Everyone occasionally gets trapped in a bad mood, and bad moods can lead to bad actions. Defusing people is all about giving them a dose of something that could alter their mood or thinking.

In business, the best and easiest way to defuse a complaining, irate customer is not to make excuses or to place blame for the circumstances that made the customer upset. Angry customers rarely care about the reasons. The best thing to do is to let them vent and then say, "I'm so sorry you were inconvenienced. What wonderful thing could I do to make you happy?"

I once had one of those awful flying experiences where flight after flight was delayed, and none of the delays were weather related. What should have been a 3-hour flight turned into a 15-hour, multiple-city, exhausting nightmare, causing me to miss meetings in my intended city. By 3 a.m., when I was finally within 30 minutes of landing at my destination airport, I suddenly smelled something wonderful. The flight attendants were baking chocolate chip cookies! That sweet, comforting aroma filled the airline cabin, and our small group of 20 passengers waited with anticipation as the flight attendants made their way down the aisle, handing each of us a warm cookie. I instantly abandoned my plans for an enraged letter-writing campaign and was effortlessly defused of all my anger and exhaustion--all by one soft, freshly baked cookie.

I suspect that those flight attendants were just as tired as we were. Did they get grumpy and treat us badly? No. They turned an unpleasant and exhausting situation into a fun and memorable event, just by being nice!

Winn Claybaugh is the author of Be Nice (Or Else!) and the co-owner of hair care giant Paul Mitchell’s school division. Visit www.BeNiceOrElse.com to sign up for his free monthly Be Nice (Or Else!) newsletter.