A Lesson from the Travel Industry Playbook

A Lesson from the Travel Industry Playbook
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Even though parity laws seem to be passing all over the country, there are still substantial cuts in reimbursement in Medicare and Medicare HMO programs, Medicaid and other state programs. So, if you, the O&P business, are working just as hard but getting paid less, there probably need to be cutbacks in order to remain in business.

However, be careful about what cuts you choose to make. Perceived value is important when it comes to customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

Value added service

If health care consumerism is on the rise, what types of value added services can you provide? Well, I visited a physician’s office recently that had a row of computers in the reception area for patient/consumer use. Of course, the homepage was the physician’s Web site and there were strict limits on sites that could be accessed … but how about that for value added. Starbucks and a ton of other places even offer free wifi. What do you have to offer?


Competition in the travel industry has resulted in all kinds of extras that increase the perceived value of your travel costs. Starwood hotel group, for example, owns Sheraton and Westin, which, at their higher-end hotels and resorts, are not known for their free Internet. Well, on my recent stay at the Sheraton Maui, for the US ISPO Pacific Rim conference, the front desk person made a big deal of letting us know that we wouldn’t be billed for resort fees and Internet. Their room rates hadn’t gone down but they had included more value in their services. As someone who travels all the time and usually has complaints about why one hotel chain has free wireless but another hits you up for $9 to $15 a day for Internet access, it worked for me.


It’s a tough economy. There are all kinds of travel deals and discounts available but, look at who is doing what and how they are marketing their offers. Some hotels are going for the no-nonsense rate cut; flat out discounting of their regular prices. Not the Four Seasons. The Four Seasons hotel group is a premier luxury hotel brand. That is their reputation and that is how they want to be perceived. They know that when the economy comes back, they don’t want people to remember the “low, low discount prices” that Four Seasons resorted to in order to fill rooms during the recession.

So what are they doing? Keeping the same exorbitant, for most people, room rates and giving you a free night at the end of your stay. It’s like a gift, a present if you will, for being a loyal customer. Four Seasons doesn’t want to be known for its discounted room rates. That would be in direct conflict with their luxury brand image.


Marketing is marketing. You’ve heard me say it, or read it, a million times.

Perceived value can positively influence customer satisfaction. In today’s economy customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are critical to a successful business. So, start looking around at your go-to industries and figure out what your customers/clients/patients are going to perceive as value and make sure you include it in your marketing efforts.

Remember the front desk person at the Sheraton Maui? She made sure we knew that we were getting complimentary Internet and that the resort fees had been waived. If you don’t know the value has been added, how can you perceive it? So when you make those changes, sing them loud and clear.

Elizabeth Mansfield

Elizabeth Mansfield is the president of Outsource Marketing Solutions. She can be reached at elizabeth@askelizabeth.net.

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