I’ve started travelling again! I live in Brisbane and in the space of two weeks I’ve been to Canberra, Newcastle and Sydney (twice). Along the way I’ve had some experiences I want to share which are a reminder of the importance of the client experience, being easy to do business with and communication.

Canberra hotel

My first experience was at a hotel in Canberra. I had a very early morning flight out so chose to stay (very) close to the airport. The room was modern and comfortable, but I had three issues which I was not happy about:

  1. The safe did not work (I had wanted to use it but could not)
  2. The fridge did not work (light on inside but warm not cold – warm juice for breakfast)
  3. There was no bathmat

This is a four-star hotel and I would not expect to encounter these issues. I made two attempts to let the hotel know about these issues but no one answered the phone when I rang from the room and then when I checked out there was no one visible to tell.

A few days later when I finished my trip I made a point of ringing the hotel so they could address the issue for future guests. I got a half hearted “sorry about that” response and am not confident that the issues will be addressed. If that happened to you would you be rushing back to that hotel? I expect not.

These three issues could easily have been picked up ahead of me entering the room if the person servicing the room each day had a simple checklist.

Sydney apartment

In a Sydney apartment I stayed in a few days later the clock in the apartment showed the wrong time by about 30 minutes. I’d been relying on it and only realised it was out with just enough time to get where I wanted to go (It was slow.) This may not seem like a big deal to some, but I think it is. People travelling often lose track of time and particularly when coming from a location with a different time zone, rely on local clocks being right. Again, a simple checklist would eliminate this issue.

Sydney hotel

My final stay away was at a four-star hotel in the Sydney CBD and a I had a very recently refurbished room. It was excellent. There was a room service menu and I’d been told the service was operating but try as I might I could not get anyone to answer. The hotel lost my business and I got dinner elsewhere.

Airport parking

On the whole I think my local airport is a very good airport. It is easy to get in and out of and historically the parking has been excellent – you booked and paid ahead then waved your credit card on arrival and again on exit. It just worked. I’m not sure why but the airport has now changed to using a QR Code. So far three out of four times entering the carpark it has failed to work for me. On the first occasion the help button did not work and I had to take a ticket, pay for the parking then claim a refund later. (A long winded process.) On the other two occasions when I needed help, I am pleased to say the person at the other end was most helpful and there were no issues with entry or exit after that.

The other challenge has been that when you have multiple parking bookings as I do (at the peak of my travel I might have had 10 to 15 carpark bookings on the go) it is very hard to find the right QR Code. In addition to that the whole process has much more friction in it. I’ve now got to remember to find the specific QR code and have it loaded on my phone ready to go. But like most people I plug my phone into my car so when I get to the gate I have to unplug the phone find the code and scan it. So much slower than the old process and that 25% success rate with the scanning adds more frustration. Not good.

I sent a note via the feedback section for the airport but have heard nothing. Very disappointing.

I’m sure there are reasons that make sense to the airport for the change but from where I’m sitting they just made a good process bad. They made an attempt to educate users with a short video on the new process that you get when you book. However, in that video they refer to getting a text on the day of your arrival at the carpark but that has not happened. Hmm.


The lessons

So why am I telling you these stories? It’s not because I like a whinge!

I’m telling you because I want you to put yourself in the shoes of your clients and walk in those shoes through every aspect of interaction with your business. Do things work as they should? Is it a good experience for the client? If things go wrong is there a way to fix them quickly? Are you easy to do business with?

If you cannot answer with a resounding yes to each of these questions, then you have work to do.

To end on a positive note, I flew from Canberra to Newcastle on a small plane operated by LinkAir and the inflight experience was excellent.