Welcome to December, that time of year when holidays, gift giving, and personal reflection combine to create the perfect storm of wish-making around the globe. This being the wishing season, I thought it only appropriate that I reach out to some of my road warrior/author friends to see what travel-related wishes they might have for 2012.
Aaron Strout, the head of location-based marketing at WCG and co-author of Location-Based Marketing for Dummies, is a bit like me—he’s looking for more outlets with comfortable seating at the airports he frequents. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute and co-author of Managing Content Marketing, would love it if rental car companies would just round up and not gouge him when he returns his car a quarter tank low. Then there’s Jim Kukral, author of Attention!, who continues to hold out hope that 2012 is the year that air travel will be replaced with reliable, Star Trek-inspired teleportation.
While their wishes vary, Aaron, Joe, and Jim all really want the same thing in 2012—frictionless travel (really frictionless in Jim’s case). Frequent travelers are likely to be any travel company’s squeakiest wheels because they have the broadest range of experience. They know that your service can be better because Company X treated them like royalty. They know that your fees are unnecessary because they aren’t charged such fees by other providers. And they know that your airport stinks because they’ve figuratively smelled better.
That’s what makes the wishes of Jay Baer, co-author of The NOW Revolution, and John Jantsch, the author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine, so interesting. They don’t want the same thing—in fact, they want quite the opposite. Jay’s wish is for universal, in-flight wi-fi, while John’s wish is that airlines would ditch in-flight wi-fi so he could have a mandatory break from his online life.
While I suspect that Jay’s wish is the more likely to come true, John’s wish points to the desire of many frequent business travelers to be well-served, but left alone. To them, the cabin is a last remaining Fortress of Solitude where have uninterrupted time to think. They don’t want your John Candy-esque small talk or your didn’t-make-“American Idol” karaoke announcements. They just want the peace and quiet of 30,000 feet—and the plausible deniability that a lack of wi-fi affords in today’s always-on, real-time business environment.
Undoubtedly, your customers have a litany of wishes they hope you will grant in 2012. Some of them may take a bite out of profits, others may conflict with each other, and still others may seem impossible (teleportation). At the end of the day, however, our job as marketers is to help all of our customers’ wishes see the light of day and make sure they each get thoughtful consideration from our organizations instead of a curt dismissal.
And if you’re still not sure about the usefulness of customer wishes, consider this thought from author Stephen Mitchell:
“[W]ishes are like magnifying glasses; they enlarge and focus an intention that is already inside us.”
Indeed, wishes regarding your brand, product or service tell you that your customers want to remain engaged with you. They want to help you be the best you can be. And as Martha Stewart says, that’s a very good thing.
So this “Wishing Season,” don’t fret that your customers are wishing that your product or service would improve. Fret if they aren’t wishing at all.