In last week’s post and comments we looked at this topic from the point of view of the traveler. I thought you might find it interesting to look at it from the other side of the fence.
One of our lodges, Tortuga Lodge has no road access. Guests often arrive by boat and leave in light charter aircraft.
When we first started, we did not do a good enough job of communicating what we meant be “light charter aircraft.” It quickly became apparent that what our guests imagined as light charter aircraft was perhaps a 20-passenger plane that looked something like this:
While the biggest aircraft in Costa Rica small enough for the short grass strip that we had at the time was a 5 passenger Cessna 206 that looks like this:
I was standing on the airstrip with outgoing guests who were demanding that I get a bigger plane when I first realized this. I explained patiently that the strip was too small for bigger planes. They demanded to go out by boat. No amount of patient reasoning would convince them to fly in that plane.
All my boats were in use doing tours, so I ended up having to rent a boat to take them out to the road head and find a bus to get them from the road head to wherever they were going next.
Clearly we needed to do everything possible to make sure that our guests who were going to be flying knew before hand literally what they were getting into, but in 1987 we had to contact our guests through the tour operator or travel agent who had booked the tour and communication was a lot more cumbersome than it is now. I was going to be facing this exact same situation several times a week. I had to quickly come up with a way to get guests to fly in that little plane.
Trying to figure out how to do this kept me up nights. I rehearsed all sorts of arguments in my head about why they should fly out and it was irrational for them to be afraid.
A week or so later when the next guests refused to fly, I was much more prepared than I had been the first time. It is a good thing that I was also more prepared with a boat and bus, because they would not get on the plane.
After this happened several more times, I became resigned that once the guests said they were not getting on the plane, it was very unlikely that I would convince them otherwise. So my problem had evolved from how to talk them into flying to how to prevent them from deciding not to fly in the first place. I couldn’t give a little talk to all the guests on how fun and safe it is to fly in tiny little planes because I would risk scaring guests who would have flown had I kept my mouth shut.
Finally after several more failures, it popped into my head that the answer was a question. From that moment on I never had anyone refused to get on the plane. As soon as they saw the plane, before they had a chance to react, I asked a question that everyone who flies is used to answering before they get on the plane, “Window or aisle?”
Our guests responded in many different ways. Many automatically told me their preference. Many laughed. Some frankly expressed how scared they were. But they invariably climbed into a passenger cabin that looked like this.
An added reward was that on several occasions the people who were most scared of flying took the trouble to get back to me and tell me how glad they were they had.
Do you have more stories about getting people to do things or the rewards of getting out of your comfort zone? Please share.