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Inside Cruise Vacations with Chris Owen

The Down Side Of Great Expectations For Travel

 It seems that when we engage a travel service provider, be they a giant cruise line or a taxi driver, the experience can go one of three ways.

1. They did what they said they would do
2. They fell short of doing what they said they would do
3. They exceeded what they said they would do

Handling Bad News

It is not good when a travel service provider falls short of the expectation set, but acceptable ways to react are predictable. Reasonable travelers might simply tag that experience as “not for them” and move along. Others will want the wrong to be made right, at the time.

Handling Good News

When they do what they told us they would do, meeting our expectations, all is well. Thank you Mr. Travel Service Provider. Have a nice day. Also predictable.

 Handling The Extraordinary

Where the real problems happen is when travel service providers far exceed our expectations and we make that experience the new standard by which all others are measured. This is where our reaction as travelers can get us into serious trouble.

Say we just happen to have a very personable cabin steward who anticipates our every wish. By the end of the sailing we want to adopt him or her…and their family back home in the Philippines that we came to know about over the course of the sailing.

The Big Mistake We Make

From the time we experience ‘the best-ever’ service, we are officially “spoiled”. On future voyages, other cabin stewards may perform the function of their jobs well, but will not live up to the one stellar experience that we allowed to define our expectations. We see that in all areas of travel service operations too.

 The personality of a waiter in an alternative-dining venue encourages us to eat there multiple times. Yes, the foundation of a dining experience (the food) was good too. But the main reason we came back was because of the personable waiter. And why not? Who doesn’t like to be recognized and appreciated?

The cruise ship Captain that chooses to be out and among passengers, shaking hands and chatting frequently, sticks in our head. Other Captains on other ships might be just as personable, but we just happened to be at a different part of the giant ship when he was making is rounds. It happens.

Great Expectations For All

The key to not allowing one stellar experience to be our new standard is to enjoy it thoroughly, while it happens, then move along. Remember it when recalling tales of the voyage, but don’t let it drag down future experiences with similar potential.

It is conceivable that each cruise, each dining experience, each tour or taxi ride has the hidden potential to be a stellar experience if we leave that door open. It is within the realm of possibility for us to turn an ordinary experience into an extraordinary one, perhaps in a totally unanticipated way, with our heads in the right place.

Try it yourself and see.

Choose to believe the best is about to happen and it often will. Look for the unique elements of any given travel situation and explore those. If one part of a travel plan falls apart, don’t let it spoil what might otherwise be a wonderful experience.

 That can be hard to do when luggage is lost, flights delayed or unanticipated motion discomfort sets in. Still, there are ways around parts of travel that fall far below expectations.

After luggage being lost, I learned how to travel with only clothing and gear I could carry with me. That was the takeaway, the end result, after the trip was over. During travel, sailing with Star Clippers on the tall sailing ship Royal Clipper with my daughter, it was a tough situation. After seeing similar situations ruin the travel of others, I had to say out loud, several times: “We can’t let this ruin the cruise.” And we didn’t.

Sometimes it takes saying it out loud, verbalizing what direction you need to head with your travel experience. Simply put: people who are really good at travel take an active role in defining it, setting their own great expectations.

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