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Good Marketing vs Great Service

One of my favorite examples of marketing is the scene from “Elf” when Will Ferrell’s character, Buddy, walks by an old coffee shop and sees a sign in the window that says “World’s Best Cup of Coffee” .  He is super excited and immediately runs into the coffee shop to congratulate them on a job well done. He later brings his girlfriend to that coffee shop blindfolded so she can taste the “World’s Best” for herself.  She is not impressed.  This is my favorite because it is satirical and understood to be poking fun at those who claim to be the “best”.  In movies, this kind of blatant subterfuge can be amusing, but in life, for the consumer on the quest to find the actual “World’s Best”, deceptive marketing can actually be very frustrating.

TripAdvisor, or other similar review sites, can be a good antidote for the prevalence of deception in marketing as they are not written by the marketer, but by the consumer that theoretically experienced the actual “cup of coffee” for themselves and compared it to cups of coffee around the world and can accurately determine whether or not it is truly the best.  These reviews are based on specific experiences and may predict the experience that you will also have with that company.  However, in this world of purchased Instagram followers, fake reviews, and uninformed reviewers (who really has time to compare all of the cups of coffee in the world) social media is not 100% foolproof either.

As a business person, I am frustrated that this climate of mistrust has led to everything I know and say about the quality of our service being met with suspicion.  As a fellow consumer, I know you don’t want to spend your vacation comparison shopping, but do want the best experience.  Therefore, I will share some of my insider tips to help make the process of choosing the “World’s Best” a lot quicker and easier:

  • The very first thing you need to do is determine what is the most important to you; price, value, service, comfort, dependability, time, etc.
  • If price is the only important factor for you, looking for a $ number may be all you need.  See if you can live with that number then don’t look back.  Don’t let the words “low price guarantee” fool you as that is also a selling tool and the parameters for that “guarantee” may be much narrower than you think.  Remember it takes money to run a quality service so if you are getting a price that seems too cheap the company is probably cutting corners somewhere.
  • Remember, price does not equal value.  Look for words like “included” as opposed to “also available”.  You may get in the door for a lower price, but be in for a lot of upselling once they have you there.
  • Service, comfort and dependability kind of go hand in hand for me.  I like to have a good experience when I am on vacation and, as fun as it is to tell your friends back home those vacation horror stories, experiencing them first hand is not so fun.  Actual service you can expect can be difficult to determine from a website–verifiable reviews are good in this case–also calling the company and speaking to an actual person can give insight into how seriously they take their customer service.  Part of good service is making sure your customers are comfortable and can depend on you, again check reviews and keywords for things that matter to you; i.e. air-conditioned, clean, fun, organized, friendly, helpful, group size, etc.
  • If time is important, check if the time listed includes travel time and how much time is spent doing the activity so you can ensure your expectations match what is advertised before you book the activity.

One more thing to check is if you are dealing with the actual service provider or a third party company.  Third parties are fine as long as they are up-front about the fact that they are an online concierge/tour desk rather than posing as the service provider.  3rd parties may have less ability to guarantee you anything with regards to your actual experience and may be more limited in their ability to issue refunds. We give our third-party sellers a service guarantee and the ability to issue refunds, but that is not always the case.

At the end of the day, no company benefits from unhappy customers so, while there may be some clever wording or pretty pictures designed to distract you, ultimately no one should be utilizing outright dishonesty to promote their business so if you just take a moment and pay attention and think about what you want to get out of the experience you may not have to look too hard for the “World’s Best” after all.  

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