Often when people say that someone is a connected traveler the mind wanders down the path of technology. That means smartphones, tablets and laptops. But there’s more to being a connected traveler than simply having Internet connectivity, email and the web wherever you may be.
For starters, leave the technology off to the side for a minute and start thinking about how personal travel really is. If you’re not researching, planning and making your own reservations, you’re not really connected. You’re dependent. And, if the person who is making your plans and reservations isn’t available, you’re a disconnected traveler from the start.
Next is the human side of travel, which is all about familiarity and relationships. For example, do you know the check-in counter folks and gate agents of the airlines you regularly fly? Chances are they work the same hours and the same locations every day. If you get to know them, being familiar to them versus being a total stranger will help you get things done more easily when situations arise and help you on your way.
When it comes to hotels, too often travelers rely on being brand loyal. Horse-hockey to that. Become property loyal, and take the time to get to know the staff from top to bottom. There’s one hotel where I stay that won my business for the past six years because the doorman used to work at another hotel I stayed at, and always was helpful to me. Not only does he get a $20.00 bill every time I check in, but he looks after my colleagues and friends whenever they visit me at that hotel. His radiance and efforts have brought the 5-star San Francisco Intercontinental Hotel hundreds of thousands of dollars of business as a result of my making that hotel my base of operations the last six years in San Francisco.
In addition to that relationship, it makes all the difference in the world that every key customer-facing team member — from the GM to the housekeepers, porters and bellmen — know me by name and I know them. When I arrive, it’s always: “Welcome home, Mr. Abramson,” not: “Can I have credit card and identification, Sir.” I don’t check in. I walk in, get handed a key, and when I leave they charge my credit card. Oh, and I even have my own personalized bathrobe. That’s loyalty, familiarity and relationships. And, it’s the same way in London, Sydney and Los Angeles.
Another area that’s important to being a connected traveler is having the right transportation company. In both San Diego and San Francisco, I have regular drivers who know me. They know which side of the car I like to enter, that my technology bag goes in the car with me, while my luggage goes in the trunk or back storage area. They know I like to be picked up curbside, not with a sign at baggage claim. But most of all they know that when I say I’m going to be ready, they are already waiting for me. I’m not waiting for them. That means I make and keep my schedule.
Last is where you dine. Often people like to play food tourist, seeking out a table at the hottest spot in town. If you want to do that, work with the hotel concierge or a local who’s in the know and connected. Otherwise it’s best to find a few really good places that offer the food you like, and get to know the General Manager, chefs and wine directors. Once you do that, with some notice you’ll always get a table, be able to order things not on the menu and even sometimes bring in your own wine, without paying corkage.
To be a connected traveler means more than just having a smartphone. It really means being connected to people and having them connected to you.
Andy Abramson is the Founder of Comunicano Inc., a boutique marketing consultancy based in Del Mar, CA. A veteran of the marketing and public relations industry, Andy has almost 40 years of experience in all facets of marketing and corporate communications. When not working he shares a love of wine, travel, dining, and technology. To hear more from Andy, check out his blog at andyabramson.blogs.com.