start up phase I was involved in just about everything. We were a fledgling tiny company with
monumental ambitions. But we were operating on a small market and I obviously
didn’t have the charisma to attract venture capi.jpgtal. So we kept grinding it
working on a technology solution with a partner, I was trying to raise funds, I
was writing a newsletter about how the Internet was going to change the
industry, I was doing a report on e-travel in Scandinavia (which was non existent,
but who knew), I was selling my services to international consultant companies,
I was trying to build a company, I, by golly, was even selling airline tickets
over the phone. This was a big mistake.
the last time I tried to make a reservation over the phone. In those early days
we could receive 5 online bookings per day and perhaps 10 over the phone. So there really was no volume. We had no
processes but an excel spreadsheet everyone was sharing. So whenever one person
made an invoice we had to scream: “I’m invoicing number 145 now.” Well you can imagine the mess. I
happened to pi.jpgck up the phone one day. The customer was a kind woman who wanted
to go to Washington. I made the reservation for her. Once we were done the lady
said, “oh one more thing. Can I bring my dog?”
I had no
idea and promised to come back. And in the midst of all the stress, juggling
all our projects and large-scale ambitions, I forgot. She called back and I
promised that it would be taken care of. I had no idea how to put the commands
in the booking and my colleagues were always too busy to help. So… I forgot.
Time went and a couple of months went by. One day the lovely lady called me
back. She had just returned from the US.
forgotten about the dog, but as soon as I heard her voice I remembered. I felt
ashamed. I asked how the trip was and if everything went fine with the dog,
hopi.jpgng for a positive answer. “Yes the trip went fine the lady,” said but the
airline was harassing her at the check-in in Scandinavia. They didn’t allow her
to bring the dog. But she persisted and was finally allowed to bring the dog to
Heathrow were she could speak to airline staff to see if they could make some
exception for the rest of the journey.
they refused to bring the dog along to the US and she was also denied to go
back with the dog. She was left with two alternatives; stay or travel and put
the dog down. Which is also what happened. I felt ashamed and wanted to fall
through the earth. The rest of the conversation was a blur. The woman didn’t
ask for any compensation and didn’t present any threats but she was sobbing.
What to do? Do I send a giftvoucher? How do I compensate for a dead dog and
business certainly has some casualties. And this was a turning point for the
company and me.
things I pride myself in and this is not one of them
When I look
around me today I see a well-oiled machine spi.jpgtting out thousands and thousands
of tickets per day. Those early years with a sobbing lovely lady left a deep
scar in me and I promised myself two things:
1. To always make sure that we treat
each customer with outermost respect and love.
2. To never touch a booking ever again.