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-   -   Is it just me? (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/milesbuzz/4290-just-me.html)

homey May 23, 01 1:06 pm

Is it just me?
 
i'm relatively new to this forum and to frequent travel, so forgive me if this post is out of line. i love the forum, im happy with my travel, and im not a battle hardened road warrior. but i have to ask...

am i the only person who doesnt care about having his butt kissed, and getting free cookies and water? am i the only one who realizes that when a hotel calls me "diamond" it is just part of a game to get more of my money, and that i am not a superior human being?

here is what i mean - i have been lurking in FT for quite a while, and i read lots of posts from people who say, "i visited the toad suck, arkansas, hotel, and despite being triple gold super executive status, and being upgraded (for free despite my $109 rate,) to a corner suite overlooking the town square, i did not receive my complimentary four ounce bottle of filtered water and two ounce bag of cheez-its. oh, and i also had to pay for my own breakfast, which is totally uncalled for. furthermore, it was cloudy that day! adam, please remedy this situation." its every forum, except rental car ones. (low expectations = fewer complaints?) notwithstanding, the snacks i usually see are highly processed, high-sugar, high-sodium, partially hydrogenated nutritional aberrations. i view it as an assault on my health to be offered cheeze-nips, milano cookies, and all that other stuff. i want an apple! i leave those snacks right where i find them, on top of that fake-cherry-laminate particle board desk!

let me say, i LOVE excessive service, and i love getting my butt kissed, but i do not feel ENTITLED to it. i love pre-boarding, i love upgrades, i love getting a big hotel room. but i dont need it. and who the hell do i think i am giving some clerk a hard time because i KNOW there are rooms on the "executive" floor? who cares? if it REALLY mattered that much to me, i would pay for it. (i might be totally insane.)

so let me be totally clear - if i reserve a suite for $1k a night, and they tell me its on the roof, and has a hot tub, and then i get there, and im on the ground floor, with a twin bed and a black and white TV, i go complain. but when i reserve an el cheapo room and dont get upgraded to an awesome suite, i dont complain. i got what i paid for. im talking about folks who complain when they dont get free stuff that they havent paid for.

in summary, even though it says gold-pressed latinum, or elite, or executive, or super-duper on some card in my wallet, i know im just a regular guy, cruising through life, happy to get a little extra, but really happy just to get what i need to keep cruising. is that common or uncommon? are my sights set too low? am i part of the problem? am i the guy the travel industry loves because they can steam-roller me by not giving me snacks and free eggs?

help a new FTer set his expectations. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/smile.gif

maybe people are just venting, and i am readng too much into it. forgive me if thats the case.

p.s. when i re-read my post, i sound like the folks lamenting that parts of FT are now being used to screw/exploit the travel folks, as opposed to just finding ways to maximize the miles/points on a good-faith basis. maybe im old-school, even though i just got here...


fallinasleep May 23, 01 1:45 pm

homey, welcome to the boards.

there's absolutely nothing wrong with the old school. keeping perspective of the really important things is good.


cactuspete May 23, 01 1:46 pm

Welcome, homey.

You will find all types here on FT. It ebbs and flows, but at present the elitists seem to be a bit more vocal.

To each his/her own, but I happen to agree with you whole-heartedly. If the outcome of your day is determined by whether a $6 an hour desk clerk addresses you as "sir" and gives you a coupon for free instant scrambled eggs, then you need to re-prioritize.

summerdawn May 23, 01 1:53 pm

Welcome Homey,

I love your attitude! If you haven't gone far in life..you surely will. Welcome to FT
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/smile.gif

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What would you do if you weren't afraid?

nwr1txg May 23, 01 1:56 pm

Interesting topic. Here is my take on a few of your points.
No room upgrade – I spent over 100 nights in Hilton hotels less year. This entitles me to carry a “Super Duper” Diamond card in my wallet. Since I spend so much time away from home I appreciate a room upgrade whenever they are offered. I have been turned down for upgrades before because of an abundance of paying guests and that does not create grief for me when handled politely. “Sorry Mr.G. we don’t have a suite available for to upgrade you tonight but here are your passes for the executive lounge.” Compare that with “Upgrade? What upgrade? Diamond, what’s that?” In the first scenario I feel like my loyalty as a customer was recognized before I arrived at the hotel and that an effort was made to recognize one of there best customers, even if they could not comp an upgrade that night. In the second scenario,(which usually involves 10 minutes training the clerk on some of the Honors nuances and several trips by the clerk to confer with others) I feel agitated because I know I was never considered for an upgrade . In most circumstances I would prefer scenario 1 – no upgrade to scenario 2 -train the clerk and try and talk them out of the upgrade. Hmm…… what does that mean? I guess it means that I like the butt kissing better than the actual goodies. On second thought I think it means that I find the (Hilton anyway) hotel recognition programs very uneven in the recognition of their best customers. In this regard the airlines seem to do a better job.
Snacks in the room – could care less.
Anyone else?

fparker1 May 23, 01 2:26 pm

we are entitled to everything offered. after all, they offered it, we accepted. when the marketing effort is not reflected in the end product, yes i get pissy. after all i could have used a competing product that does perform as promised.

stat's i have heard ...

anyone who spends more than 25 nights in a year is gold to hotels.

anyone who spends more than $30,000 a year is gold to airlines.

car rentals, havent heard any stat on this one.

BTW, i like bottled water in the room. the tap water in most hotels is ugly. I usually pick up enough in the lounge to hold me over for my stay.


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ziobacio May 23, 01 2:29 pm

homey's post made me laugh. I agree.

I am a lurker, not a poster here. (May have posted once.) I like and use all the good information, but...

My wife and I try to get FF miles in order to travel, not to upgrade. Most posters here seem obsessed with getting upgrades, "elite" status, having their own line for check-in, board first and get off first, and not have to mingle with the cattle (like me!). How dare one of us proles try to use their overhead bins or their bathroom up front??!! Gasp! I find this partly amusing and partly offensive.

Many other businesses do not automatically treat frequent customers specially. How would you feel about a special checkout station at the grocery?

I think FF programs began as a marketing tool but have taken on a life and culture of their own.

I cannot imagine getting on an airplane just for miles and 'elite' status. We get on an airplane to go places, generally traveling internationally twice a year -- in the back with the rest of the cattle. We'd much rather take two trips in coach than one trip in business or FC.

Different strokes for different folks!

squeakr May 23, 01 2:57 pm


Originally posted by ziobacio:
homey's post made me laugh. I agree.


I cannot imagine getting on an airplane just for miles and 'elite' status. We get on an airplane to go places, generally traveling internationally twice a year -- in the back with the rest of the cattle. We'd much rather take two trips in coach than one trip in business or FC.

Different strokes for different folks!

and I think that's one key - a LOT of posters here fly for business quite a bit, so the niceties DO become more important. If your'e spending over 100K miles in the air or over 100 nights with a hotel chain, comfort., ease of flight check in and the other "perks" can be the difference between doing your best work and working while tired or cranky or hungry. I work w/ a lot of consultants who travel for our company way more than I do and I don't begrudge them a single perk - it's rough traveling 50-60 % of the time..

Now do some folks take an attitude? Definitely...

As a gold w/ some hotels and an elite flyer (primarily for leisure but some for business) I have a mixed feeling about these perks. I am always delighted by upgrades esp at hotels and my life has made more pleasant by becoming an elite flyer. Better seating, better treatment etc. DO I make some rez agent's life hell if I don;t get the perks? Not usually...But as nwr andfparker have posted, if I'm treated poorly, I won't feel happy whether I get an upgrade or not.

Now when I only flew once or twice a year I honestly didn't care at all about any of this stuff. Now that I fly much more often I do count on the perks that COMPANIES OFFER TO ME VOLUNTARILY - no one twists United or Hilton's arms to give me free things, they offer them. So when it's offered and I don't recieve it, I am nore likely to complain.

I do also try and pick my battles tho - if I'm in a hampton Inn for one night and don;t get a free breakfast, so what. If I'm at the Westin Horton Plaza and the someone leaves dirty tissues in the bed (not a joke) when I go to turn in, you best believe I am squawking to anyone who will listen.


edited for spelling



[This message has been edited by squeakr (edited 05-23-2001).]

chexfan May 23, 01 3:14 pm


Originally posted by squeakr:
Now when I only flew once or twice a year I honestly didn't care at all about any of this stuff. Now that I fly much more often I do coulnt on the perks that COMPANIES OFFER TO ME VOLUNTARILY
This is where I fit in. Coming out of college, I was excited to sit in the back trans-atlantic. It was the destination for me.

BUT now that my job requires me to get on a plane every week and stay at hotels in a different time zone... it's how I get to that destination that makes me happy. I like it when my life is made just a little bit easier when i am on the road and status with the hotel and airline allows this to happen. Like kokonutz, I feel that status does matter more than the points.

In a short time, I have learned that "it's the journey, not the endpoint that matters."

TrojanHorse May 23, 01 4:55 pm

How many of you have selected the hotel chain, airline based on perks offered by their Elite levels? How many of you did some sort of research to see who would give you the biggest bang for your buck? I know I did, I travel typically 300 nights a year so I am top tier in Hh, MR, and SPG. I chose my chains based on location, price (as much as I could get rates within corp guidelines) and amenities. When you sleep in a hotel 300 nights, fly 50K on 3 diff airlines and rent cars 40 to 50 weeks a year (lower expectations does = less complaints) the little things do matter. I should be entitled to the perks as advertised a vast majority of the time (not 100% of the time as I know its not always available). If it is available I am entitled to them whether its a bounceback rate or full rack rate. I chose this company based on the total package which includes upgrades, water, soda, suite etc. Like most when I was in college, I was happy on the $19 ow BOS to EWR shuttle where I had to pay for a soda while sitting in my middle seat in the rear next to another hung over college student.

AS for the free b/fast, I better get it, its in the advertising, its in the brochure, its their obligation based on my patronage. IF they didn't have the amenities I chose, I would find another chain that did. Ditto for airlines, thats why I switched from DL to CO as my primary carrier, when they started this bs on LUser fares not being upgradeable it was the last straw. yeah they are cheapo fares but CO allows upgrades on them so see ya DL.

Am I asking for more than I deserve on my $65 gov't rate tonight by expecting concierge level access? I don't think so, I've given this chain tons of cash, that I could have given to another chain.

And I like the food store privledged customer line (Ralph's are you reading this) and while we are at it, lets do it at the gym and gas stations too.


Watchful May 23, 01 6:10 pm

homey & ziobacio...good posts from Austin!

>>Many other businesses do not automatically treat frequent customers specially. How would you feel about a special checkout station at the grocery?<<

Here in Houston, many of the grocery stores now have specials that are good only if you have a shopper card with that chain.

ontheroad May 23, 01 8:50 pm

MHO: That feeling of entitlement to perks comes from the conscious decision to choose an airline/hotel/rental car company because of the expectation of perks. When those perks don't come or when service is poor, frustation ensues.

I have metal status with a few hotel chains and airlines. Lately, I've recognized that the perks are not as important as the basics. My complimentary upgrade to a FC seat doesn't mean squat if the plane has "mechanical difficulties" and I miss an important meeting.

I was upgraded last week to a spacious suite at the New York Hilton as is typical for my visits. But I have no plans of returning. Why? Continued problems with climate control. I can't get a good night's sleep when the heater pumps out freezing cold air all night, or vica-versa. My contact to Housekeeping to rectify the situation was ignored.

Although I have top tier status with another airline that travels the same route, I'd rather fly Southwest. I may be treated like cattle, but I am more likely to get to my destination on time -- with my luggage.

I abosolutely want the miles, but I am willing to trade my perks for consistent quality, on-time flights, and hotel rooms where I know I can get a good night's sleep.

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He who dies with the most miles ... is dead.

pynchonesque May 23, 01 8:56 pm

Homey, good points. I especially find it pretty funny the way some people flaunt their hotel/airline "status" as if it were some big personal accomplishment to have spent a certain number of nights at hotels or miles on airplanes. This is not sour grapes on my part, as I have plenty of those "special customer" cards from travel providers, but don't tie my self-worth to them. I note that the "From:" fields for the posters in this thread are quite unusual for FT, if you know what I mean, and I won't elaborate more than that.

Something I see every time I'm checking in for a UA flight: the customer in line in front of me begins the conversation with the employee with a gruff statement like "I'm a 1K" and instantly starts demanding rule-bending -- not even a hello. The funny thing about this is that I find that a friendly, self-effacing manner, and a smile, can often get one many more perks than even the highest-level diamond/platinum/whatever cards.

pointman May 23, 01 8:57 pm

I think every post in this thread makes reasonable and valid points, including the first one.
Like everything in life, this issue has no black and white. Is a scale from one extreme to another. Reasonable people probably find a position somewhere in the middle.

My position is that our patronage should be rewarded as outlined in these programs. If customers do their part, the businesses should do theirs. On the other hand, elites should understand that the entire program is simply a marketing tool to increase revenue and build a successful business. To gratify elites at all cost and at the expense of the business would defeat the whole purpose and eventually there would be no airline, or hotel chain, etc....There may be some elites who are unreasonable in their demands but I don't think many are....
As for special perks such as elite lines and special priority, these are a well deserved benefits earned by directing all our business at a particular airline. For the occasional traveler, no big deal. For a frequent traveler, this is very important and rightly so....

keithnj973 May 23, 01 9:17 pm

Right on the money homey! Stick around and read some more and your chin will drop at some of the things, right down to the order in which they take your meal order on odd or even number flights and on and on and on. Just keep laughing until you too become ultra mega diamond platinum medallion executive elite tier vip status and can demand charmin in the air craft lavatory! And someone else mentioned the "from" field ... I know exactly what you mean!

2 Many Miles May 23, 01 9:19 pm

I'm of mixed feelings on this subject.

First off, I want to establish that the benefits are NOT free. I pay a lot of money every year to hotels and airlines. Last year I probably spent well over $150,000 on airlines and hotels. I didn't spend too too much on car rentals.

I most certainly chose which hotels I stay at based on their affiliation. It factors into the room cost, if I have to pay for a suite, or if I'm going to get upgraded -- this is why I think IC is the best chain to have status at.

When I fly, I factor in the cost of lounge memberships and paying for premium classes versus using my status.

I don't expect the companies to fall over themselves and bow whenever I walk by. But at the same time, I do expect to receive all of the published benefits of the programs, every time.

Think of it this way -- if you went into a store that advertised "Buy two, get one free" and the clerk said that he didn't want to give it to you, or that he hadn't hear of the sale. That would probably upset most people. It's the same way with the hotels. Hilton advertises "Make gold, and get free breakfast every tiem you stay with us." It's no different than a Buy Two get One Free sale.

Being elite doesn't make me a better person -- but it does mean that I've qualified to a better "contract" with the companies.

Watchful May 24, 01 5:22 am


Originally posted by pynchonesque:
Something I see every time I'm checking in for a UA flight: the customer in line in front of me begins the conversation with the employee with a gruff statement like "I'm a 1K" and instantly starts demanding rule-bending -- not even a hello. The funny thing about this is that I find that a friendly, self-effacing manner, and a smile, can often get one many more perks than even the highest-level diamond/platinum/whatever cards.
When I am in line behind a self-righteous elite person giving the poor gate agent hell, I grin as I imagine the jerk checking in at St. Peter's desk and finding out he (it always seems to be a "he") has been reassigned elsewhere http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/smile.gif

pynchonesque May 24, 01 5:28 am

Watchful,

One needn't resort to waiting for religious punishment. I am of the opinion that these people get the short end of the stick even in this world. Everyone knows that it's common practice among restaurant employees to spit in the food of obnoxious customers -- I think airline employees do similar things to those self-righteous "elite" types.

ETOPS01 May 24, 01 5:46 am

The troublemakers always seem to have the words, "... And I'm a gold member, yadda yadda yadda" during their rants to gate agents, hotel agents, etc.

I once sat across from this guy and his family ranting on and on about how they were "promised" by the gate agent that all four of them could be "seated together" because he was a "gold member," only to discover when they boarded (just before the airplane door closed, mind you) that they were, in fact, separated by an aisle.

After listening to this dork go on for 15 minutes whining to the Concierge (on Continental), and mentioning that he was a "gold member" maybe fifty some-odd times, I just got enough and called out to him, "Don't you see there are no four contiguous seats anywhere on this aircraft... I'm sure the gate agent knew that too whenever she supposedly promised you about keeping you all together... and by the way I'm Platinum, you're outranked, so I'm telling you to just shut up."

Got a nudge from the FA's every time they walked by.

Even us "Elite" folks don't care for the nonsense that some of our elite peers put EVERYONE through. Some of us happen to get elite just by virtue of what we do - travel a lot, out of neccessity - and not because we're inherently better people. Unfortunately, some people confuse these marketing credentials of "status" as validation of their personal value, which is as misguided as it is pathetic.

I suppose these types want to be treated like royalty when the only royalty about them is that they're royal pains in the asses.

[This message has been edited by ETOPS01 (edited 05-24-2001).]

NoStressHere May 24, 01 6:36 am

Don't EVEN get me started on this one. This is NOT a loyalty or frequent customer program. They give these to anyone. Read >>anyone, even on the first visit.

And, this is the biggest scam piece of crap in American Marketing. All they do is mark up the goods, then give you a discount so you feel good. I have actually gone to different stores because I did not have my card with me and did not want to fill out another **** form.

One chain where I live has finally dropped it and gone to normal specials and pricing. I shop there as much as I can.



Originally posted by Watchful:
...Many other businesses do not automatically treat frequent customers specially. How would you feel about a special checkout station at the grocery?

Here in Houston, many of the grocery stores now have specials that are good only if you have a shopper card with that chain.



[This message has been edited by NoStressHere (edited 05-24-2001).]

NoStressHere May 24, 01 6:46 am


As to the original posting. Right On! You go!

Not only do you make some great points, but you continue to make good points. And, you have broken one of apparent rules in posting and won. Usually when a 'long' post is made, it gets worse and worse and full of nonsense. But you really make it work.

Yes, it is amazing what the airlines have done to us. We will take connections that cost us hours of our "valuable" time. We book a more expensive airline to get segments and miles. We will change flight times just to get an upgrade. We will pass on $400 coupons because the next flight can not give us first class. We will drive 10 more miles in rush hour to stay and the right hotel, and probably pass may others that cost less on the way.

Yet, when a flight is running 30 minutes late, we act as if our life has been ruined and we might as well call Dr. Kervorkian. Go figure.

Thanks for the dose of reality and a good laugh.

robertson May 24, 01 6:54 am

Homey,

I agree with your sentiments. Too often people believe that people will respect them purely because of the color of their card that they wave under the noses of the staff with whom they deal. The problem is that for many frequent travellers, they feel they have the right to a two way relationship. They give large sums of money to one company over another, and feel they should receive some recognition for it.

A flight attendant wrote a letter to a business travel magazine a few years ago and said, 'You get what you pay for. If you go to a car dealer and buy a little hatch back, when you go to collect it you shouldn't expect to get a big six-cylinder'. This is certainly true. But what if it was less clear cut than this. What if you had bought a hatch back each year at the same dealership for the last ten years. This is not as fanciful as it sounds. A friend of my grandfathers bought a brand new car, of the same make, every year at the same dealership for thirty years. Now in this circumstance, it might be reasonable to expect that while the car delivered would be of the same make, it would have a higher trade-in value, or be given a set of mag wheels for free. The traveller - service provider relationship is where the travller scratches the back of the service provider and in return the service provider scratches theirs. Airlines in particular realised the nature of this two way relationship and therefore instituted systematic and less arbitrary upgrade systems etc.

Where the line should be drawn is the demanding of services and offers which are clearly beyond the realms of possibility. Many travellers are guilty of this. What reassures me is that like the Continental airlines example mentioned above, some flyers do have compassion and are able to stick up for the staff who are bound by rules of politness and deference. Mind you, I do not quite know why the CSD or whoever was being complained to simply did not say, 'Sir, we would love to seat you together, but as you can see the flight is full and this was the best we could do. I apologise if it inconveniences you, but unfortunately this was the best that was possible under the circumstances. We are aware you have gold status, and it was the recognition of this status that got you seated in the positions you are in now.'

Homey, this site needs voices of conscience like yours. I agree with your views. The clothes certainly do not maketh the man.

ETOPS01 May 24, 01 7:40 am

Robertson -

For the sake of clarity, that's essentially what the Concierge was saying, but the guy just still kept going on and on and on...

... and it was as plain as the guy was obnoxious that the cabin was configured 3-3-3 where he was sitting! (What did he expect, have a maintenance tech come in and reconfigure a row just for this bozo?!)

[This message has been edited by ETOPS01 (edited 05-24-2001).]

PG May 24, 01 8:07 am

Nice post homey. We need diverse viewpoints like the ones in your post.

Tango May 24, 01 8:47 am

flying for status can make a difference some of the time. If your status gives you double miles, the value of those miles (for reward tickets during peak times) is worth more then what it would cost to buy those tickets.

Two round-trip tickets to Europe in the winter will cost you (during sales) no more than $800 total. The miles earned on this translates into a peak award ticket to Europe in the summer that would cost (to buy) much more than the $800.


cigarman May 24, 01 8:54 am

I agree 80%. I always make fun of a certain high profile poster who always complains about the hotel changing the brand of mineral water. It's like looking for waldo...in ever one of his trip reports he always mentions the water. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/rolleyes.gif I find a certain airline seems to have a high percentage of these elitests. Currently they have posts about linen service slackers and missing godiva chocolates... say hello to UA flyers...
But having said that. I come from humble roots and I agree with you most of it is hot air. But, some perks are important. And I am proud of my platinum card. I EARNED it. Sure it isn't my self worth...BUT I flew hundreds of segments to earn it. I suffered through countless "fun" trips to the airport. Dealing with parking, delays etc. I do have some (and this I think you agree is key) REASONABLE expectations.
As for the poster who kinda poked fun at the status posts under the "from" part of our ID. I think they benefit the community. If someone asks a question and they recieve a answer, it gives you a feel about the credibility or knowledge of a poster. A platinum probably knows more than a silver. A good example is in the CO forum right now. A well meaning silver level flyer gave some really off the base advice on international upgrades (how easy to get). I countered they were mistaken. Now who does the newbie believe? I think the status potentially gives you a clue who has done it more times. I fly 300 flights a year. The other poster might fly as little as 2 to earn silver. Anyway, just my thoughts.

fparker1 May 24, 01 9:20 am


Originally posted by cigarman:
...I find a certain airline seems to have a high percentage of these elitests. Currently they have posts about linen service slackers and missing godiva chocolates... say hello to UA flyers...

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/wink.gif



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MileJunkie May 24, 01 9:28 am

homey, i think there are obnoxious people everywhere, with or without a status.
While I agree with most of your post, I do want to reiterate what previous posters so eloquently stated: when I was in mid-20's and just started traveling, i would sit in the back, in the middle seat, and stay at Motel 6 (literally). No complaints, i was happy to travel and see places. And i would feel great no matter when or how i got there.

Now in my mid-40's, no more! i've seen places, and how and when i got there matters.
After 20 yrs of travel, i've learned there are cetain things which will make me more effective and productive (i travel for business, my clients pay for me to come and solve problems) when i get there. That includes restful night, upgraded room or not -- but, based on my experience, I stand a better chance to get a good night sleep when upgraded. Ditto with the flight - FC is a lot easier on my old body.
so, do i feel special? not really, but i care about the treatment. do i feel entitled? not really, but i appreciate the perks.

homey May 24, 01 10:41 am

fellow travel enthusiasts,

this turned out to be a good discussion. we have good people in here, i like it. everyone has very thoughtful responses.

here is the summary (i think): no matter how badly the travel company lets us down, no matter how elite-metal we are, we do not have the RIGHT, nor are we ENTITLED to abuse their employees. in short, we should strive to be nice, no matter how tired, how pissed off, how re-routed, and how middle-seat we are feeling. just like they are supposed to be, right? i bet a lot of people are pissed off at the notion that THEY have to suck it up, when they are the ones paying the money. you can stick up for your rights, and point out that the hotel is not honoring the contract, but you cant be a dick about it.

as Fters, we should strive to set a new standard for customer behavior. if i walk up to a desk with an FT t-shirt, i want the clerk to think, "oh goody" not "oh sh!t."

think about it this way - you wont be judged based on how you are treated, you will be judged based on how you treat others.

for those in a rush, quit reading, the rest is all details. for the curious, keep going, but watch out, its long, and kinda preachy.

here is how i approach these things: regardless of the *contract* between me and hotel chain X, when im in the lobby getting my room from the clerk, we are two human beings, with real lives and emotions. at that moment, i am not a number, and they are not a huge faceless corporation. its me and frank, and the goal is to get a good room, and a partially hydrogenated snack. yeah, i can wave a print-out of the perks in franks face, and make a fuss, and blind him with the reflective glare of my well-worn elite card, but what if there was a better way? how the heck did people get good service and perks BEFORE there were frequent traveler programs? by being NICE! (being rich and paying a ton of money helps, but you still get your spat in.)

reducing it to that, me and frank, two humans trying to get something done, here is my final comment on this.

[soapbox mode = ON] http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/smile.gif

people do not care about your emotional state, they care about THEIRS. its human nature to focus on yourself, and no amount of customer service training is going to make one person REALLY care about helping another. only you can create conditions so that the clerk *wants* to help you. ironically, it isnt about you. thus if you want them to do nice things for you, your task is not to impose YOUR hurting emotions on them. rather, it is to identify and empathize with whatever emotions they are experiencing. if you tap into their emotional state, and if you talk about THEM and not YOURSELF, they will enjoy themselves in your presence, and you will get superior service. thats the key.

understand that it is REALLY HARD! it takes a lot of practice and patience.

hint: do this before they know your name, your elite status, etc. take the initiative and be nice first. then if there is a problem with your reservation, they will think, "this person is a good person. it would be wrong for them to get hosed." and they are way more likely to help you.

for me, the goal is to get a good room, etc, not to hurt the clerk, even if i am hurt myself. thus, the above strategy is the one i use. it works with everyone, by the way, not just good old frank at the hotel.

im not special, im not good looking, im not rich, im not famous, and im a mediocre tipper. all i do is forget about myself and focus on them for a few SECONDS, and boom, stuff happens. my behavior says, "YOU are elite." instead of "*I* am elite."

[soapbox mode = OFF]

ziobacio May 24, 01 10:52 am

Just curious, why do so many assume that only young, college-age people care less for perks and more for getting there? (I suspect that I am older than most of you -- early 50s.)

I also travel on business, although nothing like some of you who spend 100s of days a year in the air. You have my sympathy!

To politely continue the discussion, why do so many of you contend that *you* deserve special treatment when it's your company paying the bill? (This excludes self-employed road warriors, obviously.) If your company bought a fleet of Caprice sedans, would the employees who drove them expect special treatment from Chevrolet? If your corporation buys all its cabinets from Steelcase, do you expect a nice new desk for your home?

I think the resentment, if any, of not-so-frequent travelers is that this is a zero-sum game. Special consideration for Titanium Exclusive members means less-titled travelers get less attention. I've seen discussions on these boards about the audacity of proles trying to use overhead bins and WC above their "class". Arguments about whether it's proper to keep all of Coach travelers in their section until the Upper Classes have gotten off the plane. A Super Duper Traveler spends ten minutes with a gate agent trying to wrangle upgrades, and the next traveler gets short shrift. Or FC desk agents stand around while commoners wait in line for one over-worked agent. A new kind of class warfare?

Recently, in Austin, there was an interesting story about a popular local restaurant (Matt's El Rancho) being so crowded that some long-time customers were trying to get earlier seating by pointing out that they had been going there for 20-30 years, etc. The response was almost unanimous that the long-timers were pushy so-and-sos, and they should take their chances on seating with everyone else. Restaurant mgmt forebid staff from giving such special treatment.

Sorry for the long post -- I suspect the sides will never agree, but it is an interesting discussion!

TrojanHorse May 24, 01 10:59 am

I read this for entertainment purposes only with no intention of replying until I read the comment " no amount of customer service training is going to make one person REALLY care about helping another. only you can create conditions so that the clerk *wants* to help you." I beg to differ with your comment

Customer Service Training can help a person care about helping another as the training will show what is expected of them as part of their job duties as some employees don't know what is expected as they are new, haven't been trained etc. As far as wanting to help, why are they in this job if they don't want to help customers, aren't a people person? there are many many jobs paying similar wages in a 4% unemployment market where you don't have to deal with people. I agree being a (in your terms homey) "dick" about it will most likely hurt rather than help, I think the preferred elite rules should be waived as experience has shown that many employees are not aware of the rules.

If the "elite" level customers don't receive their perks, if the Elite all went elsewhere, where do you think that would leave the chain, where would that leave the clerk who has a bad attitude, who doesn't understand the rules of the game... out in the cold of course.

Now that I have rambled on and on... one last question homey, are you some sort of therapist or something?

Originally posted by homey:
fellow travel enthusiasts,

this turned out to be a good discussion. we have good people in here, i like it. everyone has very thoughtful responses.

here is the summary (i think): no matter how badly the travel company lets us down, no matter how elite-metal we are, we do not have the RIGHT, nor are we ENTITLED to abuse their employees. in short, we should strive to be nice, no matter how tired, how pissed off, how re-routed, and how middle-seat we are feeling. just like they are supposed to be, right? i bet a lot of people are pissed off at the notion that THEY have to suck it up, when they are the ones paying the money. you can stick up for your rights, and point out that the hotel is not honoring the contract, but you cant be a dick about it.

as Fters, we should strive to set a new standard for customer behavior. if i walk up to a desk with an FT t-shirt, i want the clerk to think, "oh goody" not "oh sh!t."

think about it this way - you wont be judged based on how you are treated, you will be judged based on how you treat others.

for those in a rush, quit reading, the rest is all details. for the curious, keep going, but watch out, its long, and kinda preachy.

here is how i approach these things: regardless of the *contract* between me and hotel chain X, when im in the lobby getting my room from the clerk, we are two human beings, with real lives and emotions. at that moment, i am not a number, and they are not a huge faceless corporation. its me and frank, and the goal is to get a good room, and a partially hydrogenated snack. yeah, i can wave a print-out of the perks in franks face, and make a fuss, and blind him with the reflective glare of my well-worn elite card, but what if there was a better way? how the heck did people get good service and perks BEFORE there were frequent traveler programs? by being NICE! (being rich and paying a ton of money helps, but you still get your spat in.)

reducing it to that, me and frank, two humans trying to get something done, here is my final comment on this.

[soapbox mode = ON] http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/smile.gif

people do not care about your emotional state, they care about THEIRS. its human nature to focus on yourself, and no amount of customer service training is going to make one person REALLY care about helping another. only you can create conditions so that the clerk *wants* to help you. ironically, it isnt about you. thus if you want them to do nice things for you, your task is not to impose YOUR hurting emotions on them. rather, it is to identify and empathize with whatever emotions they are experiencing. if you tap into their emotional state, and if you talk about THEM and not YOURSELF, they will enjoy themselves in your presence, and you will get superior service. thats the key.

understand that it is REALLY HARD! it takes a lot of practice and patience.

hint: do this before they know your name, your elite status, etc. take the initiative and be nice first. then if there is a problem with your reservation, they will think, "this person is a good person. it would be wrong for them to get hosed." and they are way more likely to help you.

for me, the goal is to get a good room, etc, not to hurt the clerk, even if i am hurt myself. thus, the above strategy is the one i use. it works with everyone, by the way, not just good old frank at the hotel.

im not special, im not good looking, im not rich, im not famous, and im a mediocre tipper. all i do is forget about myself and focus on them for a few SECONDS, and boom, stuff happens. my behavior says, "YOU are elite." instead of "*I* am elite."

[soapbox mode = OFF]


zrs70 May 24, 01 12:22 pm

Great topic.

Everyone has said it, but no one the way I can say it!

While I enjoy the perks of status, I cringe whenever I hear, "I'm gold elite and I desserve blah blah blah."

Guess what???? The agent looking at your record KNOWS what status you are.

I, for one, am sick of the word "status." It makes those without it feel like second class citizens.


LAOCA May 24, 01 12:34 pm


Originally posted by zrs70:
Great topic.

Everyone has said it, but no one the way I can say it!

While I enjoy the perks of status, I cringe whenever I hear, "I'm gold elite and I desserve blah blah blah."

Guess what???? The agent looking at your record KNOWS what status you are.

I, for one, am sick of the word "status." It makes those without it feel like second class citizens.


But that's how the system is created. I mean really, you can't possibly expect great service because of your patronage, just a little less bad service.

It's a commodity business now.


kokonutz May 24, 01 12:56 pm


I note that the "From:" fields for the posters in this thread are quite unusual for FT, if you know what I mean, and I won't elaborate more than that.
I'm not really sure what you mean, but if you are referring to the fact that many FTers put their statuses in the "From" field, there is actually a very sane, rational and well-thought-out reason that has nothing to do with ego. Since this is a board about FF, it is simply a shorthand way for a reader to put the comments of the poster in perspective. It's something that I encourage all FTers to do.

As for the overriding theme of the thread, I am a big ol' eliteist and will not apologize for it. Heck, I'm a status whore!!! The service providers set up expectations that ought to be met when you meet their criteria. And, IMO and IME, those are (and sould be) MINIMUM expectations. When minimum expectations are not met, one is very justified in complaining. I dont "get off on it" that I'm gettting a perk that someone else isnt. When one travels so darn much it just gets very, very exhausting unless you are able to do it in a little bit of style. Service providers recognize this and are willing to trade those perks for my loyalty. This is a win/win here.

I wholeheartedly agree, however, that as a customer, I get far more from being nice then by being surly. Sure, I whine when things dont go my way. But in general getting .....y takes a bad situation and makes it worse.

homey May 24, 01 2:09 pm

re: TrojanHorse

good points! i think you and i agree, and we are saying the same thing from different angles. you are correct, lots of training helps people understand their job, and how to provide great service, and what it is, and all that. i agree. my comment was directed more towards actually making a connection with a clerk, as humans. whether they care about me or not, their training will help them help me. but if they feel good in my presence, they might go the extra mile for me, or decide not to mess with me.

i think about it like this - you know when you are working, and you dont even realize time is passing, and boom, its 8pm, and you worked all day! it happens to me when im happy, and i enjoy whatever it is im doing. it isnt really *work* when it is like that. my goal is to put that clerk into a mode of, "helping this guy isnt work, it is gratifying!" then it is effortless. do i make sense? i hope i wasnt confusing...

oh, and i am not a therapist, even though i sometimes sound like one. i am an engineer by training, and take a deep interest in people for fun. (applause) http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/biggrin.gif

AirGurn May 24, 01 2:24 pm

I, for one, like to think that I'm the most important person in [i]my[i]world. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/wink.gif I guess the point to me is that everyone is the hero of their own story to some degree. You get what you can, benefits wise, from these programs, but don't expect someone to give you the world when the plane's full and they've worked a double shift on Thanksgiving weekend. I don't care if you're double-secret-triple-dog platinum with 3MM miles, you're either part of the problem, or part of the solution that makes that person's job easier. Maybe then, you'll get your upgrade http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/smile.gif

------------------
There's no substitution for a genuine lack of preparation

pynchonesque May 24, 01 6:30 pm


I'm not really sure what you mean, but if you are referring to the fact that many FTers put their statuses in the "From" field, there is actually a very sane, rational and well-thought-out reason that has nothing to do with ego. Since this is a board about FF, it is simply a shorthand way for a reader to put the comments of the poster in perspective. It's something that I encourage all FTers to do.
Perhaps. But is it really used that way? I know that when I look for advice on a topic here, I don't even look at people's statuses -- I tend to look for either good specific arguments, or for "brand name" posters, such as you, Rudi, and others. This is the internet: anyone can claim to be anything they want, including 1K, diamond, platinum, whatever. But a well-reasoned argument, or a history of informative posts, can't be faked. In fact, not only is ff status fakeable, but even when real, I don't think it correlates with knowledge. Having your butt in an airplane seat for 100,000 miles a year doesn't automatically make you knowledgeable about travel or ff programs.


As for the overriding theme of the thread, I am a big ol' eliteist and will not apologize for it.
Fine. And others won't apologize for poking fun at that. To each his own.


I wholeheartedly agree, however, that as a customer, I get far more from being nice then by being surly.
Homey makes the same point. I also think that as far as things the individual employee can influence (this excludes bonus miles or SWU's), I get far more out of "people skills" and a passing knowledge of psychology than I do out of all the super-duper-platinum-status cards I have.

UAL Traveler May 24, 01 6:46 pm

cigarman opines

I find a certain airline seems to have a high percentage of these elitists. Currently they have posts about linen service slackers and missing godiva chocolates... say hello to UA flyers...
OK, granted that the table linen and the chocolates issues show UA's massive disregard for supplying the basic necessities of onboard life, but please, lets put this in perspective. Or have you forgotten about 1000's of posts that thoroughly castigated UA when they committed that most egregious of all sins, and engaged in what can be described by nothing short than medieval barbarism when the plastic salt shakers were replaced by PAPER TUBES!!!

OK, now the record is straight. I will shift topic a bit and just say that in additional to cultivating empathy, and hoping that the employee is well trained in customer satisfaction, that most elites engage in a rather complex and ritualistic dance that precedes their ultimate encounter with the agents at the airport. By that I am referring to the myriad of strategic and tactical planning that underwrites a positive travel experience. It may involve researching the best opportunities for upgrades, working with customer relations to help secure those upgrades, understanding the situation (weather, load factors, flight arrival/departure delays, etc.) prior to leaving for the airport, and making final adjustments to schedule. When all of the above is, for the most part, well executed, with a small amount of luck the likelihood of feeling the need to moan and groan and throw status around is reduced to near zero.

dallasflyer May 24, 01 7:37 pm

This is a great topic.

I agree that some people are obnoxious. FF flyers, tourists, non-revs, etc. I have never said I'm Platinum or Gold or whatever to anyone in order to get anything. I think you look foolish. I do however think that you should receive the benefits that are earned by making the various level of status programs.

I use the from section to tell people what status levels I currently hold. I am proud of it and as a road warrior, self-employed, as if that really mattered. I use the from section to try and see where the poster may be coming from.

I like the perks and I usually get them. I pay what I need to to receive the service level that I want within my budget. I have never ask for compensation for a mistake, never moved rooms because I didn't like them. I just don't use that airline or hotel anymore. Some people complain and if they are satisfied they stay with them. I don't move my business at the drop of a hat, but if I don't like the service I receive I start looking for an alternative. I not sure the airlines and hotels don't prefer the complainers. With them they actually may get more chances.

As to the perks, I like them. Bigger is better. Getting on first is better. Getting off first is better. First class service and food is generally better than coach. I know I have been in both. In first the seat is wider, thats better. There is ussually more leg room. That is better. I meet more interesting people in first. The conversations with my seat mates seems to be better. We can relate in many cases.

I leave you with this thought. I forgot that my kids last day of school was today. I was in Tampa this morning. My ticket do to fare was TPA-MIA-IAH-DFW. I wasn't going to be home until 6 pm. I got up early went to the airport. Asked to standby to MIA. GA said no problem, got on with the upgrade. In MIA went to the GA and asked to standby for direct to DFW. She gave me a boarding pass upgraded right then. No fees, no hassle. Being nice helped, status made it happen. Great flights, got home at 1:10 pm, went and say my kids get awards at school.

I have flown many miles on many airlines with out status. Status makes a difference, it makes my traveling and my life easier and more effective when working.

I don't care about the wine or the chocolates, some do. I care about priority checkin, boarding, upgrades, and standby.

I try and be nice. I respect everyone and want to be respected. Fly with status for a year, then without for a year, I think you will rethink some of the things that you laugh at now.

BoSoxFan45 May 24, 01 8:12 pm

Welcome to Flyertalk.

I'm a young guy, and I love, love, love, love my elite status. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/smile.gif

I think it's great. We get treated like crap so often in life nowadays, that sometimes it's nice to feel special. When a company makes me feel special, well, that's fabulous. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/smile.gif

I like flying in larger seats, being first off, having a shorter line, being upgraded to huge suites, etc. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/smile.gif It doesn't make me a bad person to like such things.

Maybe it's just that I grew up without such luxuries, and only in my wildest fantasies would I experience such things, so I don't take these things for granted.

I don't know why, but flying first class for $200, then getting a huge suite at a free stay at a super hotel makes me feel special, and makes me feel good. I wouldn't pay the $1800 a night they sell that room for, nor the $2800 they sell the ticket for, but my elite status allows me to experience things I never dreamed I would be able to. I feel like Cinderella, and so long as my travel companies of choice continue to do so, they'll not only get my substantial business, but the business of many of the 4 or 5 people a month who ask me for travel advice. And they'll likely get the business of the people who ask those for advice as well.

So far as your comments about other businesses not giving better service to its better customers, what planet are you from? Have you been to a sporting event in America in the last 10 years? High-ticket businesses treat their best customers better than others. At least the smart ones do. You also appparently haven't followed American politics for the last 30 years. You have a prime example that just moved from your hometown to a larger residence in large part because of how he treats his "high rollers". http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/wink.gif

Sorry, but I own a business. While every customer is valuable beyond words, if you give me $150,000 of business a year, you can be sure you will treated with more attention that if you give me $150 a year of business. Sorry, but that's the way it is.

Finally, to whoever posted about company paid elite members, I offer this. I used to be a company-paid member, and now fund my own travel, and my tune has not changed.
When my old company would send me somewhere for a week, I chose what airline I flew, and what hotel I stayed in. More to the point, it was my butt in the seat for those 60,000 miles last year, and my family which paid the price for spending 80 plus nights on the road last year - not my old bosses.

Not only that, but the reasons road warriors get sent places are generally one of two (and often both).

A) They have special skills.

B) They are doing work that someone above them doesn't want to do, often because of the travel involved.



[This message has been edited by BoSoxFan45 (edited 05-24-2001).]


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