While talking to the CEO of one of industry’s largest operators on the show floor at the annual Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) annual meeting in Orlando last month, a corporate travel executive approached the CEO and said he was “ready to switch” from another top-tier limousine company.
“How come?” asked the CEO.
“It wasn’t anything big … just a lot of little things,” he replied.
I stepped away from the conversation to let the CEO and his “new” client chat. But that short exchange drives home a message that should resonate with all operators. It probably won’t be the one big foul up that costs you a major account, but a series of reservation mistakes, tardiness, dirty sedans, billing errors, or any one of a number of small problems that finally pile up causing the client to pull the plug.
The company that lost the account at GBTA is a big player noted for professionalism, service and overall quality. Yet, some things obviously fell through the cracks for the client to give them the axe. I wondered if the travel executive had raised his concerns with the operator to rectify some of the problem areas—and they weren’t rectified?—or just kept note and had had enough over time and moved on.
One thing I am pretty certain of is that the CEO who landed the new account no doubt had been on the travel executive’s radar as an alternative transportation company. I am assuming that the CEO or his executives kept the client aware of its services, new initiatives, awards, customer testimonials, or any proactive company news through marketing and PR initiatives, meetings at networking events, or thought personal contact. So when it came time for the disgruntled client to fire his limousine company, he already had Plan B in place. Or, think about this. Suppose the travel executive completely soured on limousine companies in general and decided to switch to TNCs for corporate travel? Ugh …
Today, with so much industry attention focused on TNC competitors such as Uber and Lyft, operators—even the most successful companies—need to constantly drive home to employees that there can be no letup in providing clients the most professional, reliable, seamless, friendly, responsive, and accountable private transportation service—every day. Ultimately, that is the differing factor between the limousine industry and the mass-market TNCs, or losing a long-time account to a competitor.
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