Problem Customers

Recently, I had the chance to attend THETRADESHOW in Las Vegas (see page 8) where I spent time manning the TravelAge West booth.


 Kenneth Shapiro
Recently, I had the chance to attend THETRADESHOW in Las Vegas (see page 8) where I spent time manning the TravelAge West booth. I really enjoyed the experience. It gave me a chance to chat with agents about business, travel trends and their latest trips. And, frankly, it gave me the best opportunity to gossip.

I also talked to agents about some of their problem customers. It seems that while travel is down and a lot of agents have lost customers, the proportion of good customers lost to rotten ones doesn’t seem exactly even. And, of course, in this economic climate, every agent is going to bend over backward to keep whatever clients they have — which just adds fuel to the fire for those customers who need a dose of tough love (delivered by blunt object, if possible).

For instance, take the customer who has no problem being rude to you and your staff — let’s call him Rudy — the one who refuses to admit when he’s wrong and complains about your incompetence to anyone that will listen, but still expects you to be the model of professionalism.

Then there are the twins, Flip and Flop, the masters of indecision. These two have been agonizing over where to go on vacation since 1972. Countries have been born and governments have collapsed while Flip and Flop continue to ponder their options. Unfortunately, in the meantime, you’re the one that gets to research the endless possibilities.

And what about Ebenezer, the client so cheap he parts with dollar bills about as often as Dick Cheney says “my bad.” “What do you mean you can’t get a room at The Ritz for the price I pay at the local YMCA? It’s a recession isn’t it?”

Finally, there’s Amelia, who gives new meaning to the term geographically challenged. When Amelia asks how long the drive is to Jamaica, resist the urge to ask if she wants you to factor in the time it takes to get EPA approval on major highway projects — or if she’s just going with James Bond in his submarine car.

These are just a few of the ones we came up with. Share your personal favorites in the comment box for this story online at TravelAgeWest.com/View. In the meantime, remember the customer is always right — except for most of the time.
— K.S.

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