Can We Change Attitudes?

Link Travel Group GM SCOTT DARLOW looks at another key issue in the Australian travel landscape.

I’M ONE of those that believes there must be secret hidden machines in airports that activate and change our behaviour as soon as we walk through the airport doors! In an instant, highly intelligent, motivated and competent people can be reduced to cranky and thoughtless souls who become oblivious to their surrounds and the procedures awaiting them.

For example, it’s mind numbing the number of times people get to the front of a long security line to be “shocked” that they have to take out their laptop from their bag, even though they did this on their last 10 visits through security and they just watched the 50 people in front of them do the same thing! For some reason they had the belief that this rule didn’t apply to them today! Same applies to priority boarding queues and just getting on the plane, some people “forget” the process and think it doesn’t apply to them and in the end, everyone just gets cranky.

With this in mind, I thought I’d try something on my last domestic work trip. I made a conscious effort to be patient, smile and say hello to every service or customer service person I came across during the airport process. This meant saying hello or good morning to the security staff, lounge staff, boarding staff and the cabin crew manager or leader at the front of the aircraft. Where possible, such as on the aircraft, I’d address them by name (not hard as they all have a name badge). The result was very uplifting, and not just for me. Just a smile and simple hello made most of them smile back, relax and actually enjoy an aspect of their job, even if it was only for a fleeting moment. It certainly made the time and flight quicker for me, so I did the same when I landed as well (confession, perhaps not to the dodgy guys walking around the Melbourne arrivals terminal asking if you want to grab an unauthorized taxi or car, they are always there)!

So it got me thinking, as an industry, why don’t we all try it collectively and see if we can change our behaviours. Who knows, it may spill over to our clients and fellow passengers. Just think of how you feel when you have a bad client experience on the phone with one of your clients. Think back to the airport workers who have to deal with those multiple times an hour all day every day!

We all work in travel or started out in travel because we love the industry and the idea of travelling. Let’s get back to that feeling and see if we can drag others along for the ride. As the saying goes “attitudes are contagious, is yours worth catching”. Maybe the industry can start the change.

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