The World Needs More Glennas

I’ve worn glasses since the seventh grade. And I celebrated a new level of euphoria when I purchased my first pair of contact lenses as a senior in college. But the fact remains, when I take out my contacts at night, I still need to wear glasses. So imagine how I suddenly got a pit in my stomach when I went to put on my glasses while spending the night in a NY hotel room, only to discover they were not in my suitcase

I’ve worn glasses since the seventh grade. And I celebrated a new level of euphoria when I purchased my first pair of contact lenses as a senior in college.

But the fact remains, when I take out my contacts at night, I still need to wear glasses—to see the TV, to make sure it’s the dog I’m letting in before I retire, and to ensure my kids are actually brushing their teeth from my not-so-secret vantage point down the hallway.

So imagine how I suddenly got a pit in my stomach when I went to put on my glasses while spending the night in a NY hotel room, only to discover they were not in my suitcase – or in my purse. I emptied the entire contents of both, and after squinting carefully at every single item, I reached the frightening conclusion that I had left them somewhere in my travels.

Between this moment and the last time I saw them, I had driven in a rental car, sat in an airport, flown on a plane, taken a train, taken a bus and walked 12 blocks in Manhattan. My glasses could have fallen out of my bag anywhere!

I started the task of retracing my steps, already convinced I would need to fork over a few hundred bucks for a new pair.

Since I had spent the weekend at my alma mater in Canada, I called the hotel in Ottawa and left a message for the head of housekeeping. After several phone calls back and forth and a thorough dissection of my previous room, the woman reported that my glasses were not found.

My next call was to the car rental company at the Ottawa airport, and luckily, the phone was answered by Glenna. She was pleasant enough, and promised to look in the “lost and found” and asked if I would please hold. About 15 minutes later she came back on the line and reported she had my glasses in her hand! While they were not in the lost and found, she had gone back into my rental vehicle and found them under the passenger seat.

“Will you be able to swing by and pick them up this week?” Glenna inquired.

“Um … no … I have no plans to return to Ottawa anytime soon.” I responded, “Any chance you could Fed Ex them to me in San Francisco?”

Glenna pondered that question for a few seconds, and hesitated, only fleetingly, before asking how that might work.

I explained that if she could give me her email address, I’d be happy to email her all the delivery details including my Fed Ex number, and that all she’d need to do would be package them up, fill out the form, and drop the box in a Fed Ex box. She agreed and gave me her email address.

It turns out that sending an international shipment of a pair of glasses is NOT that easy!

Glenna contacted Fed Ex, and they sent her a form to fill out, including something called the “Drop Ball” test. It seems Fed Ex needs to have proof of impact resistance, “within the meaning of 21 cfr 801.410″—whatever that means. However, it didn’t seem to deter Glenna!

She dutifully completed the forms, completed the Drop Ball test, and emailed me the tracking information.

Today, a Fed Ex box arrived from Glenna. Inside was a Fed Ex envelope (smart girl—she used it as “bubble wrap” to protect my glasses). But she went one step further. Inside the envelope was another box (turns out it was a Kleenex box), wrapped with a ton of paper and taped up tightly. And inside the Kleenex box was my (very expensive) pair of glasses.

Glenna had done everything she could think of to protect them and make sure they arrived without a scratch.

How does this all relate to marketing?

Brands spend millions of dollars trying to acquire and retain customers. But if you have a bad brand experience, you tend to bad-mouth the brand and never do business with them again. And in a world of crappy customer service, with workers who often just don’t seem to care, Glenna stands out as someone who will always go that extra mile.

So thank you Glenna—and thank you Budget Rent-A-Car for hiring Glenna. It goes without saying that I’m now a loyal Budget user for life!

Here’s a Recommendation, You Cheap Bastard

What Travelocity knows is that every time I go to New York, I book a four-star hotel—and usually through them. When the email popped up and said “Recommended for you. The Jane.” I was shocked to see an accompanying visual of the smallest hotel room known to man. It looked like a room on a train!

Travelocity is my “go to” travel site. I was a very early adopter and over the years have used them to book airline flights, cars and hotels. You’d think by now they’d know my travel tastes and preferences, so I was totally surprised when I got an email recently that recommended a two-star hotel in New York City.

Okay, I’ll admit I had recently stayed at a two-star hotel in a small town outside of Yosemite, but Travelocity didn’t know that because I had been price shopping and booked that hotel through Hotels.com.

But what Travelocity does know is that every time I go to New York, I book a four-star hotel—and usually through them. When the email popped up and said “Recommended for you. The Jane.” (sidebar: This garnered a first reaction of “Hey, Travelocity, my name is NOT Jane!”—clearly glancing at a headline doesn’t mean one always reads it accurately), I was shocked to see an accompanying visual of the smallest hotel room known to man. It looked like a room on a train!

It was a picture of a single bed next to a wall, suitcase on the floor next to it and a door (hopefully leading to a bathroom and not a hallway with a shared bath) that looked like Melissa McCarthy would have trouble squeezing through.

With a price of $105 a night and only 2 stars, I knew it wasn’t a hotel I would ever consider—after all, this is New York City. The next hotel on the list was the Wyndham at $255 a night (three and a half stars) and the one after that was the Trump SoHo at $525 a night (five stars).

Surely Travelocity has the intelligence to leverage their database full of my years of hotel bookings to suggest hotels closer to my past purchase behavior. If not, shame on them.

They could be sending me intelligent—nay, relevant—emails with suggestions for hotels that are having a sale (You’ve enjoyed the Hotel Mela in the past, now enjoy it again and save!) or airlines with a deal (You’ve booked Delta to New York in August in the past, now plan ahead and bring a friend for only $50). You catch my drift.

I’m sure the folks at The Jane paid Travelocity a lot of money to promote their hotel at the top of the weekly email, but come on guys. Travelocity’s marketing team needs to help their clients be a little more intelligent about selection of the target audience.

Instead of choosing people who’ve booked a hotel in New York in the past (which is probably a very large pool of targets), why not either:

A) Only select people who have booked a two-star room in New York; or

B) Craft your message to us three or four star people that says something like this: “New York hotels don’t have to be expensive. Check out this interesting option: The Jane.” And follow it up with one of the Traveler Reviews (that I don’t need to click-through to read) because this hotel sounds far more interesting after you read the “Quirky Hotel” and “One of my best travel experiences.” reviews. That way, I might actually learn more about this suggested hotel without a pre-disposed bias (remember, my finger is poised over the “delete” button!).

The lesson here is: If you’re an online seller of goods and services, you have a wealth of customer insight at your fingertips. Make sure you’re leveraging it—in an intelligent way—and you’ll be sure to keep customers and fans coming back for more.