I have a colleague in our industry who flies an insane amount for his consulting business. Besides making your head spin tracking his updates on Foursquare, he also shares some wise observations on customer service in the transportation industry. The fact is, some airlines can and do still surprise and delight someone who has well over 2M actual flight miles. In this case it was Delta. Probably the folks at SkyMiles and Affinion Loyalty Group have ongoing debates about the merits of changes to the program to balance Delta customer loyalty benefits versus flight load and profits. Given all the stresses on airline profitability, lately the balance seems to have tipped in the direction of the carrier and their immediate profits. Still, it’s clear Delta check in agents are empowered to make customers surprised and delighted with unexpected upgrades. Kudos to Delta for the staff empowerment and the training to back it up.
On the other hand, I have to say I’m surprised and disappointed that Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts www.fourseasons.com don’t have a club membership. Their properties are beautiful and their service is at extremely high level. But it feels like each resort is an island unto itself and there is no reward for being a valued customer of the chain. I have been very fortunate to stay at their properties (primarily for business) in: Jackson Hole, Maui, Bali/Sayan, Toronto, Punta Mita, Budapest, Santa Barbara, Miami, NYC, Chicago, Scottsdale, Washington DC, Atlanta and Whistler. It’s never acknowledged that you have been a customer at another location and really there are no benefits except for emails from the places you stayed with offers for subsequent stays. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a well crafted program that entices you to new places (Maldives, Africa, Marrakech)? Once I asked a hotel director and they responded “our clientele is not really about collecting points and discount vouchers” which I can understand. But I didn’t ask for a “points” club, I asked about tracking and communicating with frequent customers in a different way. Possibly inviting these customers to exclusive previews of new properties, etc. I think it’s a missed opportunity for Four Seasons.
What do you think?