Archive for the ‘customer service’ category

How Much Stress Are you Willing to Exchange For Bare Naked Air Fare?

August 19th, 2012

Customer Service is a reflection of how an employee partner is valued by their employers. I had the chance to fly 2 different airlines on back to back weekends this month and what a huge difference in attitude, cleanliness and overall pricing.

I will avoid Spirit Airlines in the future for so many reasons but the first notable reason is the overall attitude of their entire team. This is the only airline I know of that charges more for a carry on than a checked bag. Zero bags are permitted with your ticket price. The aircraft is filthy, the magazines in the seat backs are all dog eared and nasty. Not only is there nothing to eat without a charge but you pay for coffee and water. The staff is curt, stiff and straight faced … not a friendly voice or warm smile to be found.

On my return flight I encountered a family that was sending their 12 year old daughter on my flight and they accessed them an additional $100 for an unaccompanied minor. I told them I would be happy to assume responsibility for the child as I was traveling with my adult daughter and overheard the brutal exchange. The desk clerk glared at me and said “That is not the way it is done.” At the time they purchased the ticket they inquired about any additional fees and were told there weren’t any. The response at the ticket desk was “Because THEY didn’t do their job doesn’t mean WE won’t do ours.” The frustrated family requested a supervisor and got the same cold curt response. Either you pay the fee or she doesn’t fly. Can you imagine what was going on in the mind of that child?! I was incensed that it was handled so unprofessionally with no regard as to how it impacted the big picture of the business success. It felt like they were held hostage and such a great injustice was proudly exhibited by the team members. It was obvious that they were whipped if they showed any empathy and even though they may hate their job, they were happy to have one. If Spirit Airlines expects to survive, they need to treat their employees with dignity and their customers with respect and gratitude.

This week I flew Southwest Airlines. What a refreshing difference! My long flight from Tampa – LAX was complete with TWO complimentary checked bags PLUS a carry on. Beverages of choice were included in the ticket price along with snacks of choice … and it wasn’t limited to one bag of 10 peanuts! Each time I had eye contact with a flight attendant I was greeted with a smile and “Can I get anything for you?” There was fun banter as opposed to the usual crackled drone on the microphone. The flights are loaded quickly with great efficiency and the flight crew participates in assisting the patrons and thanks you for choosing their airline … not with a scripted insincere monotone scolding of the aforementioned airline.

I had to comment to Steve, one of the flight attendants who was over the top delightful. It was so obvious he loved his job as he let the entire plane know that his co-attendant, Marianne had just won flight attendant of the month. His response to me was that he worked for the greatest company in the world and this was his 25th year with them. Is that the kind of response YOUR employees would give when YOU are not watching? Everyone I encountered was an absolute delight.

I can say with all sincerity that I will choose Southwest Airlines even with connecting flights as opposed to direct flights with the surly Spirit. Southwest has earned my business and deserves recognition for their outstanding customer service. Spirit needs a wake up call before they find themselves out of business.

We all have choices on who we support and I support companies who recognize that they are only successful when they treat their teams’ right.

Tips on Looking for Work

August 24th, 2011

A lot of folks are looking for work. They go on interviews for positions they will take for the money and hate getting up to. They settle while their regret eats at them and their spirit erodes. There is less of them to give to their families because they struggle for self esteem. Dreaming and a spirit of gratitude appear impossible.
For those of you in jobs that inspire and ignite you find life exciting and your magnetism floats as you rise to the top of your career. You look forward to each day as adventure unfolds and your dreams are bigger than the fabulous life you lead. People smile around you and there is an instant aura the brightens a room when you arrive.
So how do those in the first paragraph find their path to the second? This is a tough economy and the Pollyanna approach is drinking the kool-aid toward insanity. Forget about finding my purpose! I just want a JOB! And back they go to the scenario first described.
• OK so let’s go back to Pollyanna – a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything. What can we take from a spirit of irrepressible optimism? Try some of these steps and let me know how you feel. You will need pen and paper … preferably a notebook to journal your progress.
• Write down the things you enjoy in your current job. You can turn the paper over and write the things you don’t enjoy since your brain may gravitate to that side and it is good to be clear on the things that are eating you so you don’t go back there. Keep your pros on cons list so this life experience is never lost. You are on a journey now and each brick is important to recognize as part of our life and how we choose our path to greatness. You aren’t going to quit your current job until you create a solid path toward a healthy future so find those things you enjoy and your focus on those things will make them multiply.
• Write the characteristics of your dream job. What will you do in exchange for money? Obviously if your dream job is drinking beer in front of the TV you won’t earn enough to eat and I am not sure there is an abundance of those jobs out there. Describe your passions and talents and don’t worry so much about fitting a mold. Things like helping people, working with my hands, budgets, spreadsheets, numbers, creative writing, designing, working outdoors, being part of a team. Some of these resonate and some of these make you cringe.
• Write descriptive adjectives about yourself. You can choose from this list of a few samples or come up with those that really describe the unique character that is stored deep within. Analytical, witty, compassionate, loyal, independent thinker, adventurous, flexible, dependable, conceptual, optimistic, imaginative, prepared, logical, spontaneous, sincere, concerned, inventive, impactful, personal, organized, curious, competitive, enthusiastic, thorough. We are all colors!
• Take an interests exam. Invest that much in yourself to identify your passion and the careers associated with those. I took the Strong Campbell Interest exam when I first decided to work on a career path as opposed to finding a job. It led me to the medical field because I enjoy helping others. Hospitals and hospitality are kin. They are both healing centers but one makes you laugh and the other makes you think. My life long journey has been hospitality and I have enjoyed a career mere mortals could not dream about.
• Learn the skills you need to fulfill your dream. Sometimes that means classes, workshops, tech school. Sometimes it is finding a mentor or 3 and adding value to their lives while they inject wisdom and spirit into yours. Sometimes it is being open to learn your craft on the lowest level and allow life to unfold while you have a clear but flexible path outlined. You may find a volunteer role that allows you to practice and gain related experience. I engaged all of these suggestions throughout all sectors of my career.
• KEEP DREAMING. Create a vision board. Set goals. Associate with positive people. Keep your affirmations in front of you reminding yourself how good you are and enjoy the journey. Turn off the TV and try very hard to eliminate the negative forces in your life. Worry and fear will tear you down. Take a proactive approach to those things that cause concern and get excited about working through the details.
In closing I share a couple of famous quotes and my own sparkle of truth. “Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.” Ralph Waldo Emerson “We tell the real truth of our life by the stories we repeatedly tell. Dare to dream of your great success. Become intimate with those things which deeply motivate you and regularly work toward the realization of that mission.” Mary Anne Radmacher
To thine own self be true. We are only going around once so let’s grab all the gusto we can get. Be memorable and leave a legacy.

Memorable Moments

January 2nd, 2011

Create a Memory Box

Each year it gets more difficult to produce a meaningful gift for those who have everything. The ads that speak of the price of various items that represent a sign of caring and then the one that is marked “priceless” is the quest each year  … and this year we accomplished the goal.
   2010 was a year of many great losses with family, friends and loved ones. Encouraging words and silly memories have kept our spirits alive and contagious. We actually discovered our humble beginnings created the foundation for drive, determination and success. Each person sharing their own special memory ignited ideas of new ones that had been lost. The gift was a gift from the hearts of many and everyone shared in the gift meant for two.
Write down YOUR memories and share them with those you truly love. Create a tradition to add to the mememory boxmory box each year and create a priceless gift of your own. Build a bucket list of memories to attain in 2011. We found this box and printed our memories on business card stock. It made each memory consistant in size, on a good card stock and easy to punch out rather than lots of cutting and flimsy strips of paper. After the gift was prepared with photos to accompany many of the memories, every contributor got a copy of the finished memories from all involved. Some members did not contribute at that time but have time to contribute as they desire … the gift keeps on giving.
I tried the concept out on a few friends from Southwest Florida. The email string became deep and wide and before you knew it, there were hundreds of good times that we had lost touch with that were revived like buried treasures. Keeping relationships alive can be work but work that pays in rich benefits. This is a meaningful gift for friends, family, colleagues and clients. Help expand on this idea so we all continue to enrich one another!
Memorable Meetings & Exceptional Events is a passion at A2Z Meetings & Events. Creative ideas and proven concepts will keep your attendees talking about your meetings and events. Let them know they are special. Tell them why you are taking them away from their friends and family and what they will gain as a result of their investment.
Contact us at http://www.a2zmeetingsandevents.com/ to save time, money and stress in the new year.

Use AmA2Zing Affirmations at your Next Event

November 23rd, 2010
The holidays are a time for gift giving but gifts are not always measured in dollars. Before the event you can announce the goal of sharing an inspirational message that may be unique to each attendee or it may be something general. Guests can prepare their message prior to arrival or wait until they arrive to get inspired. This may workConnecting is Affecting differently depending on the size and relationships on the guest list.
Throughout the event you have a table with bags that have each attendee’s names on them. There are index cards and pens so you can write an inspiring message to any or all the guests. You may choose to spice it a little over the holidays and make the cards on gold stars or in the shape of ornaments so they can be  hung on the Christmas tree.
Telling someone what makes them unique and fabulous or a way they have touched your life will create a lasting bond and may give them just enough of a boost to send them flying. Make your message memorable whether you choose to deliver your it anonymously or sign your name. It is inspiring to both the giver and the receiver. As each guest departs, they take their bag and have an opportunity to enjoy the “gift” of inspiration that lasts throughout the season.

Ten AmA2Zing Affirmations for Abundance and Prosperity

October 29th, 2010
I had the pleasure of working with Plan Your Meetings this week at the Sheraton Sand Key. Do yourself a favor and take a close look at this resort. The service team is extraordinary! They have longevity, commitment, quality and creativity on every level of the organization. They partner and collaborate with planners to learn your needs and exceed your expectations. The leader of this sales organization is always upbeat and positive. No matter what question you ask Jack Guy, he will find a compliment to share.
Associating with positive people is at the core of success. People who stretch you and ask you to share your expertise force you to dig inside to be sure you reach the roots of what makes you unique, so accept epym_logovery opportunity to dive into self-discovery. Lisa Kraus with Plan Your Meetings is one of those individuals who turned my sour grapes complaint into sweet wine endorsements.  Because of that experience, I have become a raving fan and speaker whenever she needs me to help out. Be sure to use them and their suppliers as a resource. They are committed to education, extreme customer service, relationship building and collaboration. Check out their Knowledge Series www.planyourmeetings.com/pym-knowledge-series/ and their town hall meetings on You Tube.
 These are just two samples of some great partners that have touched my life and I invite you to experience them as they are worthy of special attention in the world of meetings and events. I promised affirmations that are guaranteed to make you smile when you repeat them, live them and believe them.
Ten Affirmations for Abundance and Prosperity:
  • My day is filled with limitless potential in joy, abundance and love.
  •  I always have more than enough of everything I need.
  •  The more I give away, the more it multiplies and is returned to me.
  • As my commitment to help others grows, so does my joy and wealth.
  • Thank you for all the blessings in my life!
  • I am open to the flow of great abundance in all areas of my life.
  •  I allow the universe to bless me in surprising and joyful ways.
  • My grateful heart is a magnet that attracts more of everything I desire.
  •  I exude passion, purpose and prosperity.
  • I am always led to the people who need what I have to offer. scan0009
    Keep coming back for more!       
 
 

Ten Tips for an Effective Meeting Manager in 28 days

September 5th, 2010

First the story … then the tips!

Six weeks before the annual conference for 600 people is not the best time to begin your search for a meeting manager … four weeks is even less desirable. I had submitted my initial proposal about 75 days prior to major arrivals and followed up regularly without being a stalker. It was a complex program and I was doing my research a couple of times a week to see what new nuggets might appear that would give me some talking points. I knew my references had been checked so I was curious why we weren’t moving forward.
love to workFinally! Twenty eight days prior to major arrivals I get the call and it is all systems go! Some of the things that were completed were:
  • Research and secure an exhibit services company. Get the exhibit packets to the exhibitors, do floor plans, work on signage and security.
  • Schedule and hire temporary staff for registration and badge checkers. Also find and schedule security guards for the meeting rooms.
  • Find and schedule volunteers for technical duties. Find flights and ground transportation and manage reimbursement.
  • Work with the hotel on VIPs, staff rooms, speaker needs, menus, staff meals, transportation, amenities, and all special considerations in the contract. Speaker needs included hiring models, arranging piano delivery and researching translators.
  • Work with the committee chairs to tie loose ends and work it into the overall theme and timeline.
  • Review and print a 28 page program. Research several printers for price, delivery date and quality less than a week before the show.
  • Work on stage décor and miscellaneous audio visual pieces.
  • Write the survey content for daily feedback and print 3000 sheets.
  • Supervise the delivery and inventory of stored equipment.
  • Review no-shows and reservations changes daily.
  • Attend the pre-convention meeting to be sure we are set up for success. Maintain daily contact with the chairman’s needs and the hotel making changes as needed.
  • Research nightlife and plan social events.
There were moments when I felt like a firefighter … little blazes would erupt that required immediate attention and blazes were popping like popcorn all around us. We managed each blaze with a smile to keep everyone around us calm. The excitement was exhilarating AND EXHAUSTING but the show needed to go on. Once the first day was behind us, we knew the majority of the opportunities had surfaced and the program was in motion. The chairman was able to socialize with the attendees and knew that the meeting management was secure.  I made lots of new friends and was able to use my network of supplier friends to create great value for my client. We presented ourselves as a cohesive team so there was trust and warm greetings.
So here are the 10 tips for an Effective Meeting Manager:
  1. Ask lots of questions so the goals are clear. Get to know the key players and ask for advice.
  2. Prioritize those items that require more lead time and keep a checklist of those things that still need attention.
  3. Present at least 3 bids and be sure you are working with people who respond to deadlines
  4. Use the convention bureau for local referrals
  5. Don’t engage in SWAMP (Speaking Without a Meaningful Purpose) talk regardless of the pressure around you.
  6. SMILE even when your eyes are bloody from no sleep.
  7. Partner with the convention services manager to be sure they know your needs as they are ultraistic service folks who enjoy solving problems and they are POWERFUL! Respect the time the convention service manager is spending on the group. Insist they go home when there is no longer a need for them to be around. They are easy to reach if there really IS a problem you can’t handle.
  8. Watch the bottom line. Don’t say no … suggest alternatives that provide savings and be sure to praise generously.
  9. Manage the budget daily and get the final approved bill to the client within 10 days of the final guest’s departure.
  10. The final test of an effective meeting manager is when their fee is paid for with the savings the group enjoys.
I am pleased to say that my greatest reward is not the praise and testimonials, although those are exciting. The greatest reward is to earn the status as their trusted meeting planner and I will be planning and managing their meetings in the future.
If you know anyone who needs an effective meeting manager, please contact A2Z Meetings & Events at 813-990-0950 or www.a2zmeetingsandevents.com. It would bring me joy to put the pieces together for YOUR next successful event.

Meeting Supplier Relationships Make You Look GREAT!

April 22nd, 2010

AVISPLlogoThe job of a meeting planning professional is to plan and execute a successful meeting or event. We are not audio visual, website or catering experts. We utilize preferred vendors and trusted suppliers to put the pieces of our events together. Hotels will usually have a one stop shop approach and keep as much as possible in house but you can never assume that they will be able to do it all. Relationships with trusted suppliers will streamline the process and increase the professional polish to your meeting or event.

It is so critical to treat these relationships like family and be sure to communicate the goals and outcome as it relates to their performance so the end result is well orchestrated. If the venue treats your suppliers like they are “second rate” it WILL have an impact on your guests. Meet with your suppliers to see what special needs they have and how they will be able to perform best for you.

I have to extend a special THANK YOU to my friends at AVI-SPL Twice they have comAVISPL_recyclelogo_MPCe to my aid in very difficult situations and the outcome was seamless to the audience. Steve, Jim and Ivy are incredible ambassadors and seasoned professionals. AVI-SPL has several locations throughout the country and they are involved in taking the meeting profession to a higher level.  The audience EXPECTS a seamless production and that doesn’t always happen with the wave of the magic wand. Be sure to treat your suppliers right and say thank you for a job well done.

I have a related article about an incredible public speaker that you can access through my blog on my Linked In site http://www.linkedin.com/profile?viewProfile=&key=22499504&trk=tab_pro listed in the website area under My Blog. Please take the time to view this to hear the miracle of how far reaching random acts of kindness to suppliers can be. Treat each other right!

 

Fam Trip, Group Site Tour, Hosted Buyer Program … When can YOU go!

March 7th, 2010

DSC_6698Regardless of what you call it, be sure you really are a qualified attendee. Don’t go if there is no chance you will book the venue in the foreseeable future. No one wants to be part of a trip where an unqualified buyer is taking advantage of the venue. In my last hotel we did 6 group site tours or familiarization trips in one year and each group was comprised of 10 – 12 planners.

It is a lot of work to organize flights, ground transportation, special dietary needs, gifts, a theme and an agenda where everyone gets to know new people and it is still educational and fun. We created the format once and duplicated it 4 times for just captive meeting professionals and twice for independent meeting professionals with their client. We did not invite significant others to keep it very business focused and found a Thursday – Saturday program worked best in that it did not cut into too much personal time.

To get 12 attendees, you need to invite at least 50 planners. Having several dates to offer helped to get qualified planners in at a time that best suits their schedule. We made it casual, interactive and left an afternoon for optional activities to show the variety of what your attendees can do in their spare time. Spa appointments were always a huge hit but city tours, attractions or special events can also be worthwhile. We kept it personal and focused so each guest felt like we recognized the most important person in the world. The cost is usually over $1,000 per planner so expect a well orchestrated follow up plan to track the success.

It is also wonderful if the local Convention & Visitors Bureau attends to talk about the destination, partner opportunities and the type of services they provide. Any preferred vendors should also participate to showcase their offering.

Depending on the ratio of business from the local market, it is fun to attend a “Show the Love” event that is a single meal with educational content or a dinner and overnight event. If you are doing a fair amount of business with a local venue, you should occasionally “shop” the venue to experience the service when the sales team is not around. That is the service that your guests receive.

No matter what you call these types of events, they can be an extremely effective use of your time in planning a meeting or event and build an amA2Zing lifetime relationship bond between the venue team and the professional meeting planner.

Measuring Your Priorities

February 18th, 2010

HAPPY February!!! It has been a little chillier than we Floridians are used to but it is giving us the time to stay cozy and get those New Year Resolutions accomplished … My prCB031351imary goal was weight loss and I am pleased to report I am down 11.5 pounds in 5 weeks! I’ll be happy to share my success formulas if you have an interest. Basically, it is about eating healthy and doing exercise … imagine that! The greatest deprivation has been eliminating my favorite adult beverage but the detoxification of all Caffeine, Refined sugar, Additives and Preservatives (CRAP) has been essential. It has been fun to invent new recipes that are creative, quick and easy. How are YOU doing on YOUR primary priority?
With regard to business, I promised to step up my game on writing about the things that will be most helpful to you. Your comments have been so important … there was a time when I thought I was casting thought to the wind! I appreciate the energy that comes back from you as you inspire and ignite more energy. Think of how that makes people respond to your requests when you feed them praise. WOW! It creates a power that can make mere mortals move mountains! We cannot motivate anyone other than ourselves but we can inspire others through affirmations. So go find the stars in your life and let them know how they have impacted you.

j0398747 This month I am focused on a fundraising event and awareness for an organization known as Dress For Success. This group restores dignity and hope for professional women in search of a new job. Women are referred to the agency and have a set appointment to meet with a volunteer that will help them select 2 suits, 2 blouses, a pair of shoes and a briefcase from the donations at the boutique. They will also assist with resume writing and have a computer lab to investigate opportunities to go out on interviews and launch their new life. Visit their new location at 1705 North Howard AvenueTampa during their OPEN HOUSE:

Thursday, February18th 11:00am to 2:00pm
Friday, February 19th 3:00pm to 6:00pm
Saturday, February 20th 9:00am to 12:00pm

Please plan to attend the fund raising Fashion event at SAKS FIFTH AVENUE February 25. Reservations are required and seating is limited. Details are found at http://bit.ly/9frpI7 .You will be in good company!

Also in the news … http://bit.ly/dvTzj7 … the latest on the Sustainable Business Conference & Expo. The topics will be announced later this month but mark your calendars!
Finally, the video intro to the website is on line! I am learning ways to improve memory techniques and to get noticed in cyberworld so I will be sharing those items along with ways that work to improve YOUR networking and meeting sizzle. Keep coming back for more!

Help for Haiti

January 19th, 2010

Update as of February 9, 2010

Planes are still leaving our area every Friday and the greatest current need is for diapers and baby formula. Food is still a top priority. THANK YOU to everyone who donated. Laurie was able to locate an Xray machine and several medical supplies. Simple bandaids and ointments are easy to pack up and will be useful. Rewards greater than riches are yours to enjoy! The contact information listed in the initial blog is still valid so let your heart lead the way.

THANK YOU!!

 

Hi Everybody,
We all want to help in some small way and now we have a chance! The biggest challenge isn’t getting donated goods, it is getting donated transport to Haiti. A colleague has arranged by partnering with a local charity that is organizing medical flights into Haiti. They are willing to accept cargo on their DC-3s, and the first flight leaves on Thursday. If you want to help, these are items we want to get to Haiti ASAP, in order of priority:
1. Medical supplies/first aid supplies- everything from gloves, masks, gowns, ER drugs to OTC items such as gauze, bandages, band-aids, peroxide, antibiotic ointments, rubbing alcohol, disinfectants and cleaning supplies. Also, there is an URGENT need for X-Ray equipment. Right now broken bones are being set w/o the benefit of x-rays. Casting supplies are also needed.
2. Baby formula, food, bottles and diapers …. Lots of diapers!
3. Survival items (think camping) – sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, tents, cots, etc. Most people are living and sleeping out of doors, under sheets.
4. Toiletries – soap (liquid is preferable to bar soap), toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.
5. Nonperishable food and water
6. Just a quick update on my previous list: I need to move food up to a 1 or 2 priority. Think big bags of rice and bags of dry beans! Cheap, easy to store, easy to transport, and relatively nutritious. Cans are heavy and bulky and people may or may not be able to open them.
If anybody would like to donate any of these products, please get them to me by the end of Wednesday. I will be attending the Manatee Chamber business after 5 event this evening and in St. Pete tomorrow attending the Meeting Planner International meeting at Suncoast Hospice if anyone would like to participate or you can drop it off at:

Remmel Wellness Center
6416 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. No.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(t) 727-525-1141
Because of the space constraints and logistics, we have been asked to hold off on donations of clothing and building supplies. Please pass this on to everyone in your contact list. Laurie Puckett of Remmel Wellness Center will collect, sort and box the donations and get them to the planes. The transport that she has arranged will have security and will be bringing our supplies in directly to two missions working in Haiti – MVI and Mission Haiti.
Also, if you know anyone with a medical background (doctor, nurse, surgical tech …) who wants to go to Haiti and volunteer their time, have them contact her and she will get them in touch with the folks organizing the medical side of things.
Thank you in advance for any assistance you can offer and God Bless!