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The five most important people in travel

Want to maximise passenger happiness? Tell them about the five most important people in travel.

Want to maximise passenger happiness? Tell them about the five most important people in travel.



Ooh, so who is it? Do we just focus on Australia? Is it the tourism minister? Is it the bureaucratic figurehead of the industry, Jayson Westbury? Is it Screw Turner? Alan Joyce?


This came up over Chinese with my business partners. In Pune, which is in India after about 30 hours of travel and adjustment and work catchup and I was, blerrgghh.

So we did discuss the figureheads of Australian travel, but to your passengers, who are the most five influential people on their holiday.

If you can get this information across to them, they are definitely going to have a better holiday, which makes you look better.


1. The first airline rep at the airport

Could be the person shepherding through lines, could be the first ticketing agent you come across.

A smile could see you shifted with kids to the business line.

They aren’t going to pump you to business class, because it really doesn’t happen.

But they have the power maybe for that little extra leg room, maybe a spare seat next to you for the 1 year old child you have.

Maybe its even an express queue voucher. Get it wrong?

OK, they weren’t sumo’s, or even Japanese, but my smart arse quip made for a shoulder to ear (they were tall) experience between two 130kg+ lads for six hours on a shit Indian plane.


2. Customs

There is not a lot of time people have a lot of nice things to say about customs officers. But let’s look at it another way.

They sit there for five hours trying to read badly filled out, often incomplete forms, which they need to discuss with people in languages other than their own, hundreds of times.

Every day.

Having everything ready, honest open face, straight through, get your bags and off you go.

Upset customs officials can have you standing there for two hours.

I haven’t done this myself but have seen it nearly every time I travel. Yesterday it was the lady who suggested she didn’t need to fill that form out.


3. Hotel reception

By time I arrived on Tuesday I was tired, operating on a different time zone, a bit smelly, too much caffeine and really not looking forward to the next six hours of exercise, stretching, preparation for business and then dinner.

The Frontdesk really do have an awful lot of information at their fingertips. They really do have the ability to hand out all sorts of pleasures, and upgrades are not uncommon for the smiling passengers.

Maybe it’s a couple of drink vouchers. Maybe it’s free Wi-Fi. Do you really think it comes out of their pocket? Think about it, they want to do it.

Get it wrong. “I can’t believe people were still using the lift at 3 AM” or “there was a small nuclear explosion in my room as all of the electronics in everything are fried.”


4. Bell boys, waiters and chefs

It could be Bell girls but you get the picture. Especially in places like India, they get paid absolute crap and more often than not treated like absolute crap as they try desperately to move up the ladder.

I am at this place for four days and will endeavor to learn the names of just a few of the staff as seriously, it just makes them so happy.

That alone is actually enough. However in the UK last year I really hit it off with a young bloke who was working hospitality and studying technology.

I gave him some tips, suggested some changes to his study. I easily scored $80 worth of free drinks over the next five days.

It was totally unexpected and very generous.

Get it wrong? All I’m not saying anyone is likely to have spat in my food but…


5. The Travel Agent


“If you get stuck we can unstick you! Through rain, hail or shine 24/7 it’s good to know we are with you all the time.”

“You can call us anytime and we will respond rather than remembering which website you booked on or waiting on hold for hours and having to press options before maybe getting put through to an overseas telemarketer!”

“I greet you with a smile, I listen to your travel needs and I will be there for you at 2am when you turn up to your accommodation and it is a garage shed door.”

Agree with the list? Who do you see as the important people in travel?