May 08

Cody curse becomes a verb

Business travel has become so bad that everyone is ‘Cody Cursed.’ In fact, friends and family alike nowPlane
use the once ‘inner circle-only’ catch phrase to describe their most recent business trip from hell (i.e. ‘I’ve been Cody Cursed on my way to Denver. We have an indefinite delay.’ Or ‘Sure enough, the plane landed on time, but I was Cody Cursed with a no-show limo driver.’).

I’m less-than-thrilled to report that I’ve been Cody Cursed once again. My return flight from O’Hare two nights ago was early (‘That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. We should be in Newark a full 30 minutes early tonight,’ bellowed our effervescent captain). But, once we were on the ground, bingo, the good ol’ curse kicked in again (‘Ah, ladies and gentlemen, Captain Stanley Kowalski here. As I said, we did arrive early but, unfortunately, there’s no gate for us. As a result, we’ll taxi on over to an open area and wait. So, sit back, relax and as soon as we have an update, well I’ll be right back in touch.’). Piss off.

Thirty minutes later and we’re still sitting. At least, I can feel some comfort in the knowledge that, along with Kleenex and Xerox, the Cody Curse has become a generic term. A ‘Murphy’s Law’ in the air, if you will.  And, that’s a good thing (except, that is, when you’re caught in the middle of one).

May 06

Be slow to promise, but quick to deliver

I wouldn’t be writing this blog if the Continental Airlines pilot and flight attendants hadn’t waxed poeticPlane_2
about our arriving 30 minutes earlier than expected.

First, the pilot told us the good news. Then, the flight attendants chimed in as well. ‘Cool,’ I thought, ‘That doesn’t happen very often.’

And, as it turns out it didn’t happen this time either. Oh, we arrived 30 minutes early. But, then the captain announced the following, ‘Ah, ladies and gentlemen, the good news is we did indeed arrive 30 minutes early. Unfortunately, though, there are no gates available. So, we’ll have to sit and wait.’

Thirty minutes later and we’re still sitting.

One of the best pieces of image and reputation advice I’ve ever heard came from a ‘grey beard’ at Hill and Knowlton many years ago. He told me to wait before responding to an urgent client request of one sort or another. He told me to think through my response and said, ‘…be slow to promise, but quick to deliver.’ It was great advice.

Although I’m sure they couldn’t care less, the Continental Airlines crew should learn a lesson from today’s miscommunication. By mismanaging customer expectations, they now have a cabin full of restless, unhappy passengers.

Oh, and, guess what? We still haven’t budged.