The clear, shining difference between companies with 100% 5-star reviews and those without is friendliness. This means that your number one staff-hiring criterion needs to be to pick people who are just… nice… and – crucially – are able to maintain this in the heat of battle.
The fact is, if something goes wrong during a tour, nearly everyone will give you a chance to rectify this.
Negative reviews come not from when something bad happens, but from receiving a cold shoulder when they attempted to rectify the situation.
This doesn’t just apply to tour operators. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, he showed us a study which was looking at which factors influence whether wa doctor will get sued. The finding was shocking: likeability is more important than competence to predict which doctor will get sued.
“The overwhelming number of people who suffer an injury due to the negligence of a doctor never file a malpractice suit at all. Patients don’t file lawsuits because they’ve been harmed by shoddy medical care. Patients file lawsuits because they’ve been harmed by shoddy medical care – and something else happens to them.”
Gladwell, in fact, tells us:
“What comes up again and again in malpractice cases is that patients say they were rushed or ignored or treated poorly.”
So, you can be incompetent but if you’re nice, then it’s largely okay. While this kind of information is a bit scary when talking about doctors, it shows how important this point is. The friendly, smiling person who takes people’s complaints ends up the winner.
The proof that this pays off comes from the Library Hotel Collection, who have consistently dominated TripAdvisor. Talking to EyeForTravel.com, their VP of marketing Adele Gutman had this to say:
“The secret is our people. We hire happy people who love to be of service, and we train them and coach them to create a sense of pride in people pleasing.
“If you do your bit to help them develop their skills and give them all the tools, plus the freedom to use their imagination and creative problem solving skills, needed to make people happy, you will be inspired to see how far they are ready to go for guests.”
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