SMILE WHEN YOU SAY THAT
So, Air Canada is feeling the pinch.
According to a story in the Globe and Mail, the folks at Canada's favourite airline have been asked to try a little tenderness as they seek to fend off a challenge from the shiny, happy people at West Jet.
The story said that a recent internal memo to staff from Air Canada CEO Montie Brewer noted continuing improvements in the company's "hard attributes" but that other issues needed to be addressed. Brewer said it's "up to each and every one of us to work together to be sure that we're also out in front in the soft attributes, such as a ready smile, eagerness to help customers and simply perform jobs well."
"We must always provide great service and be sure to take care of our customers," he wrote. "Providing better service is the only way that our competitors can hope to steal our customers."
Perhaps, or perhaps West Jet will continue to grow and win fans by providing a better airline without hassling them with silly fees for extra baggage and all that. West Jet is talking about introducing a frequent flyer program next year, and it's the lack of such a program that's always kept me from doing more flying in the friendly Canadian skies. So bring it on.
In the meantime, I've got several Air Canada flights coming up and I'll be looking for smiles when I get to the counter at Pearson Airport on Saturday.
FILLING UP FAST
Obama-mania is still going strong south of the border. Ordinary folks won't be able to get a ticket to the presidential ball next January 20, but hundreds of thousands of people are expected to line president-elect Barack Obama's parade route from the Capitol to the White House after his swearing-in ceremony.
Hotels are beginning to fill up in Washington D.C. and some are requiring minimum stays of three or even four days. Plus prepayment. Ouch.
TELL US WHAT YOU REALLY THINK
According to a Reuters news item the other day, some Caribbean destinations are already being badly hurt by the economic crisis in North America. American Airlines is said to have cut half its daily flights to Puerto Rico from the U.S. mainland and cut the number of daily regional flights from San Juan to smaller Caribbean islands, dropping from 55 per day to 33.
Small destinations in the eastern Caribbean are in big trouble, said Wayne Cummings, director of business administration for Sandals Resorts International.
"To put it bluntly," he said, "some hotels are already sucking wind."
The folks at Egencia say they're expecting the cost of business travel to drop in most North American cities.
In a pricing forecast issued this week, the corporate travel specialists said some cities could see double-digit price drops for 2009 compared to the same periods in 2008. Among the cities where that's expected are Atlanta, Washington D.C., Dallas and even New York City.
Others, including Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Francisco likely will see only single-digit price decreases.
Egencia pegs the price of inbound fares to Toronto and Paris to drop 11 to 15 per cent.
Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls was given this year's Delta Hotels and Resorts new Business of the Year Award, presented by the Tourism Industry of Canada. The award is given "to a business whose ingenuity, hard work and perserverance had a successful impact on the tourism sector."