In the Trenches: Do It Ourselves or Partner with Someone Else?

We do a lot of things at Cranky Concierge, but not all the things we do are necessarily things I want us to be doing. The best example of this? Frequent flier award redemption.

When the business first started, I wanted to focus on providing flight monitoring and urgent assistance, but I knew people would want help planning their flights as well. I hadn’t really thought about frequent flier award redemptions and instead just had it lumped in with the rest of our flight planning efforts.

It didn’t take long for me to see a major flaw with this. The few times people asked us to help them use their miles, it was incredibly time-consuming, even painful. It can require hours of searching; painstakingly putting together different possible connecting points to find those precious seats that are eligible for awards travel. The money we were bringing in wasn’t nearly enough to account for the time we had to spend on those redemption requests.

I re-thought our pricing and bumped up the cost of award redemption. Considering we didn’t do a ton of them, it seemed like it would work well to dissuade customers from asking for this kind of service. I was wrong.

It turns out that we must have done too good of a job putting these tickets together, because we started getting more and more referrals and requests. The work didn’t get any easier, but now we ended up doing a lot more of it. I came to realize that we were still underpricing ourselves.

So now, I find myself wondering what the best way forward might be. We could continue to do this kind of work ourselves, but we will need to increase our rates once again at the very least to make it worthwhile. Or we could look to partner with someone else to do the work for us.

There is no shortage of people who do award redemption for a living, and they pay much more attention to the various partners and rules than we do since it’s not our specialty. I’ve had good talks with one person about simply sending our customers to his team for this kind of work, but I’m not sure if it’s the right thing to do. It might just be better to keep it in-house at a higher rate.

What do you think?

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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6 comments
mgateley
mgateley

Hey Bret:t:

 

Yeah, you did a fantastic job on our trip.  Too bad for you.  As painful as it is to me, I am going to have to agree with Noah.  Very important that you get up front with your partner who is going to handle customer problems with their end.  IF they just do the bookings and don't take responsibility or most importantly, care for your customers they way you would (and do) then they are worse than useless.

This is your brand.  Treasure it and nurture it as you would a child. 

Noah Kimmel
Noah Kimmel

I think you have to look at what is your core business. If award redemptions aren't profitable, then don't do them. Also, if you want to be truly customer focused (as I know you do, Cranky), then you should be only doing the things you are best at. If you dont know all of the rules and shortcuts, partner with someone who does, it will be a better service for your customers. That being said, make sure your partner shares your values, ideology, and mindset. If you can find a partner who is as good as their job as you are at yours, then it is a great match, and you can put your focus into growing the profitable part of your business.

 

best,

Noah

Guy Manningham
Guy Manningham

Bartering with a marketing firm is probably the best way to go about it if you have a service you can provide them in return.

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  3. [...] In the Trenches: Do It Ourselves or Partner with Someone Else? – Intuit Small Business Blog I’m debating how to deal with frequent flier redemptions. [...]