The impact of Hong Kong’s economy over the past several years has affected business travel. The airline industry in Asia has evolved with an increase of budget airlines within the region for short haul travel with competitive pricing.
With full serviced airlines competing with low-cost or budget airlines, one would assume you pay value for dollar. Expectations on service in all aspects can be put into question. In managing travel as a virtual assistant, our clients prefer to fly on low cost airlines for the reasons everyone else does: it’s cheap and has more options flight schedules and just don’t need the extra frills. We’ve found that whilst managing our clients, who are also saavy entrepreneurs, some budget airlines have great value and service, pre and post flight.
This story begins with one of these clients, who is well travelled, long haul about 4 times a year, short haul 3-4 times a year. The full serviced airline, which has a popular miles redemption program worldwide. The client was flying back to Hong Kong from Barcelona through London and had to delay his return. His flight was co-shared with another airline from Barcelona to London which was arranged through the mother airline that provided the flight from London to Hong Kong. Confirmation of flight change and a small payment was done and all was set. When my client reached the counter in London to check in for his flight two weeks later back to Hong Kong, he was told that he was not on that flight. Apparently when they changed the flight from Barcelona to London, they forgot to remove him from the original flight and was deemed a no-show. Later on, we found that although he had the correct ticket, there was a system glitch from the co-shared airline. They failed to sync the new flights into the check-in system. They were unable to explain how this could happen. They did tell us that redemption flights could have been the cause of some mix up and the system failed to catch the change. We relayed that the client was very disappointed as he has been a customer for almost 10 years and accumulated a high status in their miles club and had never experienced such a situation as he had flown this route many times. They would not provide a formal apology, though the customer representative apologised on the phone profusely… To conclude their investigation, they also said that if it happened again next time, to recite this case number so they can keep track of these mishaps. The follow up with the airline on this matter took 10 working days.
With our team of virtual assistants in Hong Kong, we come across these sub-standard service issues often personally as well as for our clients. What we do is try to push back to rectify the situation fairly and usually it can work. We strive virtually to assist our clients on an international and global level of practice as we understand what it means to know and desire great customer service for success. This work ethic and practice we have makes the partnership with our virtual clients have a win-win partnership and a great working relationship.