Travelocity: What Went Wrong

Posted in Blog | 11 comments

Want to know what happened next? Read my update.

This is the story of poor customer service, misuse of social media and one very crabby baby.

I’m small potatoes: I don’t travel more than a handful of times each year and I have a moderate following on this blog, Twitter, and Facebook. So why should a large company like Travelocity care what I think?

Because I am their customer.

I’m headed to LA to see my sister. I planned to book my flights through Travelocity. What should have been 10 minutes of my time has now spanned more than a week.

I looked around, found a great price on a flight that had perfect timing. And then:

Went through my travelocity purchase, selected my seats, entered cc …. flight no longer available. Only alternative is $850???? From $220
SuperJennBlogs
July 10, 2011
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I tried another search. I tried another computer. I tried an app on my phone. The only flights under $500 included traveling at 6AM (requiring I leave my house by 3:45am) and returning with an overnight layover.Suck it up, you say?

I might have. The problem is that my traveling companion is 22 months old.

Yup…SuperBaby and I have been planning an adventure. I just didn’t think it would be THIS adventure.

You can imagine how pleased I was when the next morning I woke to find a tweet from Travelocity in my stream.

@SuperJennBlogs Many apologies. Please email twitter@travelocity.com so that we can connect you to a booking specialist.
travelocity
July 10, 2011

Fantastic! This is what I love about social media; reaching out, connecting with people and resolving problems.

I sent an email, thanked Travelocity and waited.

@travelocity Thank you. I just sent an email in. Fixing this would be fantastic.
SuperJennBlogs
July 10, 2011

This had all happened over the weekend, so I waited some more.

@travelocity I was hoping to hear from someone today but I heard nothing. Will I hear from someone tomorrow as promised?
SuperJennBlogs
July 12, 2011
@superjennblogs Hi Jenn…sorry for the delay. Let’s try this: Can you forward any previous notes to joel.frey@travelocity.com. Thanks!
travelocity
July 12, 2011

Oh thank goodness! A quick reply with a direct email address. I had been getting nervous. It was Tuesday and I needed to book this flight by Wednesday to fall within the “2 Weeks Prior to Travel” window.

I shot off another email and waited.

Nothing. After four days.

@Travelocity twitter stream full of them making apologies to ppl for bad service and “pls email us” lip service. #stillwaiting #noresponse
SuperJennBlogs
July 13, 2011

I did another quick search on Travelocity for flights, intending to use the flight numbers to locate what I wanted directly on the airline sites. In clicking through from my query results to detailed itinerary options the price jumped $150.

This was beyond ridiculous.

I finally booked a flight through Delta for $411 on Wednesday afternoon.

These were the only flights I could find that were less than $550 and did not include an overnight layover or a 6AM departure.

The problem that Travelocity now faces is that I am no longer just a customer frustrated by what appears to be a growing trend of bait and switch on the pricing of flights.

I am now a disgruntled customer who is angered by the very off handed treatment she received under the guise of social media customer service.

Late Wednesday I received an email from Travelocity offering to waive the $30 fee for speaking with a real live person if I wanted to call in and get some assistance. I was also offered a promotional code for a future hotel booking through Travelocity.

I politely declined. In a very long email.
My points to Travelocity were these:
*I was disappointed at the appearance of customer service that in reality, is an attempt to move disgruntled customers off line and away from the public eye. “Email us here” is not handling a problem, it is moving it elsewhere.

*If a company is going to offer customer service through a social medium like Twitter or Facebook, the people who attend the accounts need to have the authority to work towards resolving the problem. The person tweeting for Travelocity should, at the very least, have the ability to put frustrated customers in contact with a live person, with no fee, immediately in an attempt to resolve their issues.

*Because I believed that someone from Travelocity was going to assist me in obtaining at least something similar to the original flights I had booked, I waited until the very last minute to book my flights. Consequently, I ended up with much less than desirable travel times which will have a direct impact on my child, the people traveling around us and me.

*Ultimately what I wanted to see from Travelocity was an improved view and respect for both its customers and the power of the social media venue.
If you are interested, you can read the full content of the emails exchanged, HERE.


Last week I attended a workshop with Peter Shankman: Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World. This was when I decided that I was not wrong for being upset.

I am not complaining and whining about a price I didn’t want to pay. I want to be acknowledged, I want follow through and some respect from a business that is all over the media, asking me to spend my money with them.

That’s not all I learned.

Acceptable response time on Twitter? 1 – 3 hrs. Don’t wait too long to respond to your customers #socialirl
SuperJennBlogs
July 19, 2011
It took Travelocity days to respond to me; after being prompted by me several times.
Listen, analyze, personalize reply. Do those in order… Otherwise it will fail. #socialIRL
JoeDavisMedia
July 19, 2011

The Travelocity stream on Twitter is FULL of canned replies to people expressing concern, discontent and frustration. Each Tweet sounds almost identical to the ones I received.

No one is listening.

No one is analyzing the problem.

The replies are late, if they exist.

“Every customer is a content generator – whether good or bad content is up to you” @PeterShankman at #socialirl
KAIZENcoach
July 19, 2011
Travelocity is most certainly getting their content now. If they had quickly gotten me in touch with a real live person (and waived the $30 fee for talking to a person) who could have helped me obtain a like itinerary to the original one I attempted to book, I would have been writing about what a great job they had done.But they didn’t.I’m ticked off about their attitude towards their responsibility (or lack thereof) to their customers….to me.

My usually very even tempered son is likely to be unhappy and he’s going to cry. I might cry. The other passengers on that plane might want to cry. They certainly are NOT going to be pleased.

So SuperBaby will be wearing this shirt during our travels:

 

See the bit.ly there on the bottom? It links to this story.

I’ll be taking pictures of SuperBaby in his shirt…as we travel across the states, through 4 different airports. I’ll share them through Instagram and Twitter and post them to my Facebook page.

What am I looking for? What do I want from this?

I want them to change their policies on customer service when it comes to Social Media.Let me rephrase:

I want them to provide good customer service to all of their customers, including the ones they bump into on Twitter.

If you are proactive with your customers, you do not have to be reactive. #socialirl
SuperJennBlogs
July 19, 2011

 

11 Comments

  1. LOVE! Nice job. Can’t wait to follow along on your trip.

  2. You go, girl! I’ve been going back and forth with Verizon for over a week. I might be using some of these ideas with them if they don’t it together soon!

  3. I can’t remember the last time I had a truly LOL moment on the Internet. This was a first in a long time. I will be following the tweets and watching for the pictures. And I no longer have faith in Travelocity. There are plenty of other companies who want my business and my money. I don’t travel much either, but I do have friends. And they have friends. I will be sharing this article with everyone I know and all 1100 of my twitter followers (@audreysmamma).

  4. Now if every one they treated like they treated you would respond in the way you have then either they would be out of business by now or would have shaped up real fast. People need to take action and let these big companies know that we do not stand alone we stand together and we won’t stand for that type of customer service period~! To bad you didn’t have business cards made up to hand out that match your son’s shirt. lol

  5. I just opened my mail and I received and email from vistaprint.com 500 business cards for $1.99 lol Just thought you should know :)

  6. We thought of that but didn’t have enough time! I’ve written the bit.ly on the back of my own cards in sharpie and I’ve handed some out :)

  7. I’ll pass this on. Someone at Travelocity, the someone who thought canned responses would be a good idea, that someone is going to wish he/she did a little more research on social media practices.

  8. LOVE the shirt! I am very loyal to companies that handle their social media customer service in a proactive manner, not just based on my experience but the experience of others. I wonder why companies are not realizing this to be true?

  9. You rock and I think the way you are handling this is brilliant. It’s not emotionally charged… it is the facts and unfortunately on Travelocity’s side, those facts kind of stink. Hopefully they get a clue!

  10. Ugh, that makes me so mad! I have had similar problems with Orbitz, but I’m shocked about the lack of follow through on Twitter. You would think they would care about the customers who are on social media outlets and what they have to say about their business. It’s free advertising for them!
    Bravo to you! I hope nobody cries ;)

  11. Fabulous! I LOVE that you thought to make the shirt! Hopefully, Travelocity pays attention now!

    My sister and I had a similar experience with canned responses and no action from the Men’s Warehouse Twitter account this spring. It was maddening.

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