In the Trenches: Dealing With the Holidays

Every time Thanksgiving happens, it gets me thinking about how our business ought to run during the holidays. What days and hours should we stay open? How should we communicate this information to our clients? These are two particularly tough questions for Cranky Concierge, because holiday travel is a big deal.

This year, Thanksgiving went very well. Although we didn’t believe the storm on the East Coast last Wednesday would complicate matters much, newscasters scared plenty of travelers into thinking it would. That brought us a fair number of last-minute sign-ups for flight monitoring. However, other than a few minor delays, our clients didn’t have any issues. With all quiet on the weather front for the rest of the weekend, we received no urgent requests.

Of course, when we’re already monitoring a flight, our business hours aren’t an issue: Our concierges follow a customer’s travel at all times. When someone signs up in advance, we provide a phone number that they can call 24/7 for immediate assistance. The issue of holiday hours applies to nonurgent matters.

In general, we’re open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Pacific). That’s when we help clients with flight planning, book award travel, set up future monitoring, and answer general questions. Because of the nonurgent nature of these requests, I have no qualms about closing on Thanksgiving Day and the day after, so that my employees can be with their families.

But a funny thing happens when families get together on Thanksgiving: They make future travel plans, and they often want to start working on their itineraries right away. I was astounded at how many requests for our services came in on Thanksgiving Day itself. But I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, given that planning is what families do when they get together.

What did I do with these requests? On Friday, I spent a couple of hours sending quick emails people, letting them know we’d get back to them on Monday after the long weekend. But it has me wondering whether we should be open on the day after Thanksgiving. (I refuse to consider asking people to work on Thanksgiving Day, despite current retail trends.) Or should we simply better communicate when we’re closed? Will that be enough? And what about Christmas? Dec. 25 falls on a different day of the week every year. Should we be open the day before and the day after?

I’d love your opinion on the matter. Tell me: Do you like to plan travel during the holidays? Would you keep your business open? Please leave a comment below.

About Brett Snyder

Brett is the Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. He also writes the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.
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3 comments
Vern Frol
Vern Frol

If customer service is the priority in a company the days that a company should be closed depends on the industry.  For example, in manufacturing many companies will close over the two week period around Christmas and New Years since orders typically drop off.  In addition, a critical mass is required in personnel to keep a production line going and that is hard to achieve over the holidays.  Therefore, the benefit of staying open is minimal and employees can enjoy some time off.  In my current industry of direct marketing we must be open the day after Thanksgiving to provide the service our customers expect.  Our business does drop off dramatically the two days before Christmas and we close the company so that our employees can enjoy their friends and families.  We are open the day after Christmas because our customers once again need us to help them.  However, because business is lighter after Christmas, we allow employees the option of taking time off at their discretion.  Basically, operating at minimal staff which then meets our customers’ level of demand.   I do fully support not being open on Thanksgiving.  It is a holiday that is meant simply to give Thanks, regardless of race, religion, creed, or preference.  I might suggest you review your ‘busy’ seasons and ‘slow’ seasons then migrate your schedules to cover when your customers need you the most. 

cedarglen1
cedarglen1

Good questions!  I'm not an expert in you unique field, but here's what I think:  Continue closing on the holiday itself, but  make it EASY to find information about when you will be open.  Be open the next day and ready to sign up the new clients in need of future assisted travel; there may be a lot of them.  In my view, key here is communicating ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,your day-after hours and then being available.  Best wishes.

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