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@GroverJones  Ah yes, most definitely.  It's been fixed.

7 months ago on In the Trenches: Relying on Customer Service When Technology Fails

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@nbarnard  Quite honestly, I wouldn't even know how to do that.  It uses a VPN so I imagine this would add all kinds of complexity if it's even doable.  Talking to Sabre, they say you can't.

7 months, 1 week ago on In the Trenches: The Difficulty of Going Mobile

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@cedarglen1  Well, it's not working all that well now.  We've started to send to some clients from a central email address instead of our own, so that solves some of the issues.  We'll just keep dealing with it until we run out of good ideas!

7 months, 2 weeks ago on In the Trenches: The Money vs. Time Tug-of-War

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@HansMast  You're right, this would be the best solution.  The problem we run into isn't a cost one (as you say, there are very easy solutions out there) but it's one of time.  We've been extremely busy so we haven't had the opportunity to try to implement this.  Because regardless of cost, there is still time involved.

7 months, 3 weeks ago on In the Trenches: Team vs. Individual Customer Service

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That's a very good point, Shane.  Unrealistic expectations will leave nobody happy, and people do think we have some magic wand.  (We had someone call us this week asking if we could hold a Delta flight for someone.  Um, no.)

9 months, 2 weeks ago on In the Trenches: How to Sell Ourselves

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 @thetravelanalyst I think the monitoring is different in that it's a lot cheaper than urgent assistance.  The value is there (or at least I hope it is) even if things don't go wrong.  But for urgent assistance, it's a lot more money and there are specific, time-sensitive demands.  We are very clear when people sign up that they're paying for our time and expertise, not necessarily the outcome.  We do have our moneyback guarantee, but we want people to understand that it's meant for if they think we haven't done everything we can.  Of course, people have taken advantage of it for other reasons, and we honor it.  We put the guarantee out there for a reason so we won't back down.  But it does make it tough to set expectations properly.

9 months, 2 weeks ago on In the Trenches: How to Sell Ourselves

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 @nbarnard I don't know if you can pull your listing, but I think it's still a useful tool.  People who are interested in us can look us up and see reviews on a trusted third party site.  That has value for those who don't find us there but still use it as a research tool.

10 months ago on In the Trenches: The Yelp Conundrum

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 @HumbleOpinion Ah, I understand now.  We've discussed the idea of only booking through our systems before, but we would much rather provide our clients with the lowest available fares even if it means not booking through us.  That should win us more business than it loses us from people like this one.  

1 year, 1 month ago on In the Trenches: Choosing Our Tone With Unhappy Customers

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I thought about that.  I've heard of people who use walking desks where you're on a slow moving treadmill all day.  I just wonder how awkward it would be to do that.

1 year, 1 month ago on In the Trenches: Incorporating Exercise Into the Workday

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 @HumbleOpinion Are you suggesting we should have driven to the nearest airport served by that airline and purchased the ticket for them?  Our fees are certainly not high enough for us to do that.  We were more than happy to purchase their tickets on the website but they wanted to save the money, as we had explained to them, by going to purchase themselves.

 

You may think this was all common sense, but that's not the case for everyone.  These travelers specifically signed up because they were confused by all the different options on that airline.  At least, that's what they told us and we helped them with what they asked for.

1 year, 1 month ago on In the Trenches: Choosing Our Tone With Unhappy Customers

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Alex - We've actually been pretty successful helping people with those ultra low fare airlines.  People hear stories about all the fees and get really nervous about it.  So they like having someone to guide them through the process.  It does seem surprising that people would pay for help in cases like that, but we're happy to provide it.  I always wanted to make sure this business was just an elite concierge service - I wanted to be accessible to everyone.

1 year, 2 months ago on In the Trenches: Choosing Our Tone With Unhappy Customers

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Oliver - I wish I knew if there such an agency!  I couldn't find anything, so had to rely on the usual suspects like BBB, Yelp, general google searches...

1 year, 2 months ago on In the Trenches: A Background Check Post-Mortem

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I haven't made a decision yet, but I've been investigating Grasshopper.

1 year, 5 months ago on In the Trenches: The Virtual Phone System Scramble

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Yes, if you click on the links in the first paragraph, you'll see I discussed this in more detail previously.  This is more of a follow up.  We are a 24/7 operation when it comes to monitoring flights or for anyone who needs urgent assistance.  This is just for regular planning.

1 year, 6 months ago on In the Trenches: Expanding Our Hours

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 @Alex Bauer  @nbarnard  Thanks to both of you.  Using Gmail today, they do a great job of filtering the spam into the spam folder.  I just need to make sure they don't do greylisting, or at least give the option to flip it off.  Our current provider allows us to turn it off but it automatically goes back on if you do email forwarding.  So that doesn't help.

 

Sounds like Google Apps is very likely going to be the way to go.

1 year, 7 months ago on In the Trenches: When Email Lags

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Thanks for chiming in, everyone.  Most of us use Gmail to manage email, so Google Apps seems like the most likely way to go.  But we have at least one person who is an Apple-fanatic and I worry about how Google Apps would work for him.  How easy is it to get Google to push email to an iPhone?  For those of us with Android, it's excellent.  

 

On the flip side, we could do an Exchange server or something like Office 365, but for those of us who are addicted to threaded conversations in Gmail, it's not as seamless as Google Apps would be.

1 year, 7 months ago on In the Trenches: When Email Lags

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I do need to put together an FAQ, but I wonder how many people would read it.  I mean, some people may just assume that changes are included and not think to check them.  But if even one person sees it, then it's worth doing anyway.

1 year, 8 months ago on In the Trenches: Changing Our Services

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 @thetravelanalyst Yeah, that would help, but we get change requests sometimes before the concierge is assigned.  That definitely would help with last minute changes, however, and those are the ones that end up being the most difficult.

1 year, 8 months ago on In the Trenches: Changing Our Services

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I think you've hit the nail on the head, Stephanie.  There are definitely people who think their needs are urgent, even if they're just looking for flights several months away.  Ideally, we wouldn't have to have business hours because people would understand, but alas...

1 year, 10 months ago on In the Trenches: Business Hours Revisited

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David - I think there might be some misunderstanding about how this works.  If you click the link at the top of the post, you can go to the original post about business hours which explains it better.  But in short, we monitor people who are flying 24/7.  And if someone has an urgent issue, we're available.  The business hours are to set expectations for people who are just inquiring about service for future travel. 

1 year, 10 months ago on In the Trenches: Business Hours Revisited

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Thanks for chiming in everyone.  For the most part, I don't think it has hurt us.  I think it's likely helped us by helping to set expectations about who we really are.  But anytime someone brings up a point like this, it seems like it's worth revisiting just to make sure we aren't making a mistake.  

1 year, 10 months ago on In the Trenches: Should We Drop the ‘Dork’?

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 @mharris127 The minimums actually can vary by state, I'm told, but there is a federal minimum that sets the basic bar and I assume that's what you're talking about.  What I've been working on would be above the California minimum as well even though the person I'm trying to bring on doesn't live in California.  I have a person I'm working with on this already, and there are benefits involved that fit his needs.  I am not, despite the strange accusation by another commenter, trying to hire someone for cheap and work him or her to death.  That would be insane and illegal.  

 

As for the taxes, I already have part time employees and my payroll provider takes care of all that.  It makes life much easier for me, that's for sure.  

2 years ago on In the Trenches: Making the Case for a Full-Time Employee

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It's a good idea, mbirgen.  I'm not sure it would work with Traveler's Aid specifically.  They're a decentralized organization where each individual operation does its own thing.  So I think it would be tough to work with them.  (And the one here in my hometown was just kicked out of LAX so that LA could do the job themselves.)  But I do like the idea of partnering with a group that could vet it and then let us know if they need our help.

2 years, 1 month ago on In the Trenches: How to Be Charitable

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 @Jason Steele I saw this as well from the broadcast email they sent.  It's about time, though it would have been nicer a couple weeks ago.

2 years, 2 months ago on In the Trenches: When Your Vendors Make Business Difficult

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 @Fred123 I wish we could do that, but we can't.  They automatically charge it through the agency system.

2 years, 2 months ago on In the Trenches: When Your Vendors Make Business Difficult

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