A Curated Experience Isn’t Always the Best Experience
Our local airport recently introduced a service called ParkRDU Express. It’s billed as a “trunk to terminal” service that allows you to (a) park closer than in an off-site lot, (b) have a driver pick you up almost as soon as you get out of your car, and (c) be taken immediately to the terminal curb.
It’s a fascinating first-world concept, and once I ran the numbers for a recent overnight trip, I realized it would only cost me an additional three bucks (plus tips) than my normal remote lot habitat. Even a notorious cheapskate like me can handle that.
So I made my reservation. I received my QR code. I showed up at the allotted time and was met at my trunk as promised and was asked to hand over my carry-on and was even given a bottle of water. It was all very personalized and very polished.
But in this particular experience, it wasn’t any better than the “cheap” version.
Here was the issue: to get to my departing terminal, the express shuttle had to go past another terminal. And it was 6 a.m., a time where errybody and their mama is showing up at the airport. So even though the driver wasn’t stopping at the first terminal, she still had to go past it. She had to navigate long lines, drop offs, cars cutting her off, and kiss and go situations.
Once I finally arrived at my terminal, I was convinced that it would have been just as fast – if not a bit faster – to take the offsite transportation of the cheapskate masses. In that scenario, they go straight from the remote lot to my outbound terminal, so there’s nothing extra to navigate.
Now in fairness, my return trip was flawless. The reversed distance from the terminal to my trunk was much shorter, so I was back at my car and driving away from the airport in record time. The driver offered me another water bottle and even tossed in a free sun shade for my car. Based on the concept and the service, I give the system five stars.
But here’s the point of this post: a curated, customized experience isn’t always the best experience. A personal touch isn’t always the best touch. On my outbound flight, the mass transport option would have been better, faster, and cheaper.
We can’t always know what our guests want. But if we pay attention and ask good questions, we might be able to find out what they need.
It’s true that a good guest services experience is not one-size-fits-all. But sometimes, corporate systems might indeed trump curated services.