No trip is ever trouble free.
Flights are always being canceled, cruse lines change itineraries or skip ports, and car rentals are plagued by pricing or mechanical problems that are almost inevitable.
Interestingly, as Christopher Elliott writes in the Seattle Times, travel disputes between a traveler and supplier, like an airline or cruise line, are now being resolved on the spot…by technology.
Elliott recounts the tale of an American Airline New York to Paris-bound exec whose flight was delayed for mechanical problem, which meant she would have missed the Paris meeting.
She was preparing her complaint letter to management asking for some sort of compensation, but the airlines beat her to it.
Before she landed, they had already sent her an email offering her 5000 bonus miles, and an apology. ” They beat me to the punch,” she says.
Increasingly, customer complaints are being solved by technology, either directly or indirectly.
As the Seattle Times noted, Carnival uses Twitter to update its passengers, and uses technology to deliver compensation deals…almost before their plane touches down, or the disgruntled cruiser has time to pick up the phone and call customer service.
It’s a neat way, says Hotelmarketing.com, to preempt customer complaints and enhance consumer experience.
What’s better than receiving an apology and compensation on your smart phone even before register your complaint?
Some industry observers (cynics?) think it’s just another way to take the human being out of the equation by more or less forcing the customer to take the compensation package as presented, with no chance to modify the one-size-fits-all offer.
So, when should you approach management personally seeking a better deal?
If the automated compensation package doesn’t do it, then by all means seek out a supervisor or general manager.
But as Gary Poon, author of “The Corporate Counsel’s Guide to Mediation“, says “A customer shouldn’t demand to see the supervisor or general manager every time there’s a problem.
Customers should exercise their own discretion over whether or not to go up the corporate ladder.”
Keep in mind, travel suppliers like airlines and car rental companies certainly want satisfied customers, But they’re not in the business of accommodating every individual request and losing money.
Obviously the sooner a travelers deals with someone in authority to resolve a missed port of call or delayed flight, the better the chances of positive resolution.
But with technology increasingly seeking to resolve these issues, there may be little or no chance to get what you think you deserve as compensation.