Traveling for the holidays? Getting a few last meetings in, but worried about snow storms hitting Chicago? Hauling two kids to see family in St. Louis or New York? Especially this time of year, travel can create stress before the trip, but also a sense of helplessness when things go wrong.
With tools like TripIt, GateGuru, airline, and TMC apps to consolidate itineraries, help change flights, and search for airport and destination services, mobile is the rage in travel technology. But in my experience studying mobile travel technology to develop product strategies, none really give you peace of mind or help solve all the right problems.
When your flight takes off late, you might miss your connection. Your connection might be delayed or canceled. You may not know if there are other options, how to access them, or what airlines can (or should) do to help.
And while mobile apps provide some good information, you’re still left to figure it all out, often juggling multiple apps, and trying to communicate with colleagues or get those tired kids through the airport.
So what is Cranky Concierge?
Since this site is MakeTravelBetter.com, I had such a good experience with its Flight Monitoring plan over Thanksgiving that I thought I’d highlight it as you prepare for holiday travel.
Leveraging mobile technology and live, personal service together, Cranky Concierge proactively monitors your flights, identifies alternatives, provides real alerts (not automated alerts that show up when they’re irrelevant), suggests changes, and can re-book on your behalf.
In other words, it doesn’t just provide information after you need it, it helps anticipate problems and solve them.
Before we even boarded our flight in Seattle, our concierge, David Hotz, alerted us our connection in Atlanta was already delayed and gave us two options at neighboring gates through Detroit or Minneapolis, whose weather looked better.
Frankly, we wouldn’t have had any idea of a downstream delay, and searching a mobile app would have been fruitless. We stuck with the original since the other gate agent wasn’t cooperative, but options were there.
Landing in Atlanta, our connecting flight was delayed further. Unfortunately, there were no alternatives to Richmond left that night, and we were hungry and wanted a decent, non-fast-food experience.
So we used normal mobile search for restaurants in the Atlanta airport. It didn’t help. We tried to use an airport app. Not that helpful. We tried looking at airport maps, going through four terminals, and checking out restaurants ourselves. Nope.
So we asked David, who gave us a spot-on suggestion for OneFlewSouth in Terminal E (where I also got the best Old Fashioned I’ve had).
When our Richmond flight was delayed even more, he called the Alamo desk to make sure they would have a representative after 1am.
To be clear, this was not an on-demand agent who would have to look up our information and figure things out while we sat on the phone. David was proactively watching our flights, identifying alternative plans, and unsolicitedly offering to call the Alamo desk.
All for $30.
Who is Cranky Concierge good for?
After our trip, I talked to Brett Snyder, The Cranky Flier himself. According to him, his original target was “regular people when traveling,” but a few segments seem to stand out:
- Infrequent fliers, who tend to be most appreciative because they’re more nervous
- Unmanaged business travelers, who don’t have TMC agents
- Expert travelers who do know what they’re doing, but like to have someone to connect with
And if you need different levels of service, like Urgent Assistance, Flight Planning, and Award Travel, they’re available.
I also asked Brett what he felt the key qualities of the service need to be.
His response? Primarily, Cranky Concierges have to be able to “figure it out”, but also demonstrate:
Tough getting all those in today’s consolidating airline world, even as industry profits are up.
Bottom line? The airport and flight experience can be tough, especially this time of year. So if there are ways to mitigate risk – and even enhance the experience – Cranky Concierge is one of them.
Give it a try.