Did you receive a smile the last time you were charged for your extra checked bag? Was the reservation agent polite when they asked you for a credit card number to cover your $100.00 change fee?
Workers in the travel industry, particularly at US airlines, are faced with delivering more and more bad news to customers regarding changes in service or the addition of new surcharges. Many employees on the front line are finding themselves in an increasingly difficult position as the airline industry adapts to out-of-control fuel prices. Over time, the front-line employees begin to suffer from a “battle fatigue” of sorts that can lead to snippy or downright rude service. Dealing with customer discontent and confusion has become a major challenge and airline management is struggling to find ways to equip employees with skills and tools to provide quality customer service.
Gailen David, president of Jetiquette(TM) Academy of Coral Gables, Florida and 20-year Purser for American Airlines, has created a program geared to airlines, airports, hotels and other travel and retail companies that helps their employees become more resilient as they deal with perpetual change and uncertainty in the industry. He personally experienced what can happen when changes in the workplace take their toll. In fact, in the 90’s he was forced to take a leave from the airlines to deal with his own “in-flight anxiety.”
“The changes that I experienced caused me major stress. I had to find a new way to deal with it and enjoy my work at the airlines and make the experience better for customers and coworkers with whom I came into contact,” David said. “In the 1990’s, the changes were different, and they pale in comparison to what we are dealing with now. Currently, travel employees are on the battlefield all day as they face off with customers on new rules and additional fees mandated by management.”
In the end, customers want a pleasant travel experience and employees want harmony and satisfaction at work. This is where Gailen’s talents and experiences come into play. Showing employees how to be more empathetic to customers, how to find their own unique career purpose, and how to put a value on their individual contributions are just some of what he covers in his highly interactive seminars. Many times, these seminars put him in front of extremely hostile audiences as he faces roomfuls of angry employees who’ve suffered pay cuts, witnessed layoffs, and had their work rules drastically changed. “The last thing these employees want is someone coming in and telling them to ‘be nice.’ I’ve been there myself and am there to help them to rediscover the joy they had on their first day and how to tap those emotions at the most difficult times. The results are amazing!”
To date, his Jetiquette(TM) keynotes and seminars have been delivered around the world in the US, Canada, South America, and Europe to airlines, hotels, retailers, and even government agencies. His next project is to deliver 20 seminars for a Canadian airline. He also has a DVD learning program for companies to use following his seminars and his book is due out this fall.