Saturday, November 06, 2010

Welcome To Ft. Wayne. Would You Like A Cookie?

That was the question Audrey (pictured here) asked me when I landed at the Ft. Wayne International Airport Friday on my way back from meetings in Dallas for the week. My trip (which involved three plane changes from Dallas to Memphis to Detroit to Ft. Wayne) was a long day in of travel, so it was nice to finish my journey with a friendly (and unexpected) greeting like this.

Over the past year I've had the pleasure of speaking all over the country, presenting at conferences to help educate community bankers on the "power" of social networking. Of course, to get to these conferences meant that I also had the "pleasure" of spending quite a bit of time in and out of airports. During my travels and all the airports that I passed through, not once did I get offered a cookie when I landed until this past week. Heck, sometimes I couldn't even get my connecting gate information ("sorry sir, you'll have to check the monitors".) Guess a cookie would be really out of the question.

With an expectation for air fares going up for the holidays and customer satisfaction with travel mediocre at best, this one little airport is taking steps to try and make travel as pleasurable as possible. Now I'm not saying that a cookie is all that it takes to make things "all better". But, this airport also features inexpensive (and convenient) parking and free WiFi (where the larger airports require you to pay to get online). Knowing this, I actually planned on getting to the airport early (yes, that was a conscious decision) to make sure that I was all caught up on work before taking off at the beginning of the week.

Lessons for the Little Guys
Now I understand that DTW likely isn't going to start giving out cookies to the millions of people that pass through their terminal (that would be a bit much). But, if you are the owner of a small business and struggling with how to compete with the "big boys", the Ft. Wayne Airport can be a good example of how this David is differentiating itself against the Goliaths. Think about it... What can YOU do that would not only make your customers smile, but be so inspired as to actually take a photo of you in action and then tell their friends (which is what I'm doing right now)? Maybe it's not a cookie, but think about how you can go above and beyond and get your customers to think "wow, that was pretty cool".

So to answer your question Audrey, yes... I would LOVE a cookie. And I'll look forward to seeing you on my next trip. While I still fly out of DTW most of the time, when the opportunity presents itself to head south to Ft. Wayne you can bet that's where I'll be.


Until next time...
Eric

P.S. When I approached Audry to ask if I could take her picture, she was understandably puzzled. I told her that I was an "Internet guy" and wanted to blog about her and the basket of cookies she had to hand out. "Oh, well in that case sure," she said. On my way out, another gentleman approached me with a card to see if I'd be interested in going online and completing a survey. Funny, I thought... not only are they taking steps to try and brighten visitors' days with an unexpected treat, but they are actually interested in what people think about their service (click on the Tell Us link)! Think this is something that you could do a better job of in your business?
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