Last week I had two canceled flights, a car service that didn’t show up, a cab driver who didn’t know where he was going, a missed flight connection that forced me to stay overnight in Philadelphia, and a train that hit a tree and got stuck.
Despite this, I still made it to all my destinations relatively on time, which is significant as I had seminars for about 400 lawyers and business professionals in these various places.
What does this have to do with negotiation? Negotiating with travel-related entities can be extremely challenging. Here are a few suggestions.
• Create leverage by planning for your Plan B.
If you need to be somewhere the next day, create leverage by developing a good backup plan, or Plan B. I almost never get on the last flight out to my destination that day as canceled flights inevitably occur. Whether it’s another flight or a long bus ride, plan for your Plan B.
I found out my New York City to Albany flight was canceled when I went online to check in 24 hours in advance. So I decided to take Amtrak.
When I got to the station, I thought my luck had changed as half the Albany trains had been canceled due to snow – but mine was on time.
My feeling was premature. Halfway to Albany we hit a tree that fell on the track; the engine was damaged.
So my client arranged for a car service to get me at the nearest train station. Amtrak took care of this one, though, as they temporarily fixed the engine – and we limped in to Albany six hours later.
• Be open to creative alternatives.
You can’t plan for everything, but you can be open to creative alternatives.
When I flew into Cincinnati on my way to Indianapolis, I found out my connection was delayed three hours and might be canceled. Another business traveler suggested we rent a car. It would only take two hours and he offered to drop me at my hotel.
Interestingly, I ended up saving time and money, as a cab from the airport to my hotel would have cost more than my share of the rental.
• Focus on your goal and don’t forget to ask.
It’s easy to get upset when traveling and take out your frustration on gate agents. Don’t. Focus on your goal and what you can control, and nicely ask for what you want.
I was so excited to get home after this trip and figured nothing else could go wrong, right? Well, my Syracuse flight was delayed and I missed my Philadelphia connection to Phoenix by 10 minutes (the Phoenix flight left early despite being the last flight out, my only option on this leg of my trip).
I was not happy. But the airline gave me a hotel voucher and figured this was it. Not me. I expressed my frustration to the gate agent – in a nice way – and asked for a drink and meal voucher and extra frequent flier miles. I got the voucher and was told I could probably get miles if I wrote a complaint to the airline.
That complaint has already been sent.
Published March 4, 2010 The Arizona Republic