Influential Voices: Travel on a Dime

I was excited to read Sunil Kaushik’s guest post on Lean Travel on the A View from the Q blog. A number of years ago, my friend Dani and I did an After 5 at WCQI called The Lean Lady Travels the Globe. We had a lot of fun researching the best travel deals and recommendations, including tips for packing (roll or fold?), plus we had really awesome flight attendants (Andres and Ryan) to ensure that the participants had a smooth landing.

That presentation was done before airbnb (founded in 2008) and couchsurfing had started to make the kind of impact they have today. Now, we’ve also got Uber and Lyft to give us rides (I got free transportation to/from WCQI this year through Uber referrals – and I had a carload of folks on the way there). We’ve got Groupon and Living Social and others, plus Yipit to aggregate all of the deals on restaurants, travel, and goods.

My number one go to tip is to unpack immediately, repack as you go, and only bring what you need. I consider this to be a challenge – almost a game. Note – this doesn’t work well when you pack things that no longer fit you. Next week, I will be couchsurfing with my son while he attends cooking school in Eden Prairie. We really hit the jackpot – the place we are staying is a few blocks from the cooking school, and is much less expensive (we’re making them dinner and may help them with boxes since they are moving) than airbnb ($40/night) and a hotel (starts at $110 a night). My son wants to do fun things while we are there, so I will buy some groupons through MyPoints, so I get points for my purchases (and they have 25% off three local deals for the next three days), so we will be all set. My last step was to reserve a cube in my company’s office in Arden Hills, so that I have a place to work, rather than taking 4 days of vacation. I’m excited to enjoy our adventure together, and taste the results of his cooking!

p.s. full disclosure – the airbnb and Groupon links are referral links. You get a bonus with the airbnb referral. If you’d like a referral to Uber (you get a bonus) or MyPoints, let me know – referrals make a huge difference for travel!

Influential Voices: The Future of Quality

In May, Laurel Nelson-Rowe guest posted on the View from the Q blog about the Future of Quality. If you haven’t had a chance to read the report yet, you can find it here.

On topic I found to be of particular interest is the one on understanding our customers. I’ve always been one to answer surveys and provide feedback. I participate in a program where I scan my purchases for data gathering purposes. While this information is used in aggregate, the folks who get this data may feel they know me, but do they? I’ve been known to change my mind on a dime. And in today’s information overload environment, folks can get easily bored.

I used to work in retail, and I prided myself on being knowledgeable enough about our products that my customers considered me to be a subject matter expert. And, if customers had questions about related products, I knew where to send them. I asked a lot of questions, so that I could make recommendations (“vests may be too hot for the groomsmen at an outdoor wedding in the summer”) and helped them design a look that matched their vision of what their wedding would look like. Can mass customization replace a personal touch? I’m not sure.

What are your thoughts on this new era of customer understanding? What other topics in the study caught your eye?