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A System For A Great Experience


A System For A Great Experinece: A Simple Trip For Sneakers Illustrates The Secret For Business Success 

My recent shopping experience is a great lesson for all of us in the travel industry.

My oldest daughter, Bella,. is active. It was a Tuesday evening, and I was finally taking Bella out to pick up a new pair of running shoes. As her running distances have increased (along with her foot pain), we decided to skip the chain sporting goods and shoe stores and visit a local specialty running store.   As you probably guessed, I am not a runner, and I was prepared for the worst. Elitist sales clerks, overpriced shoes, and just the general pain of buying something, anything, that doesn’t come in a brown Amazon box.  

We arrived at the store to find a handful of shoppers chatting with sales clerks. Running apparel and featured shoe displays dotted the front of the store, a great wall of different colored running sneakers anchored the rear, and a test running track ran right through the middle of the store from the back wall extending all the way to the front door. We stood on the track just inside the door for only a few seconds before a man made his way down the track to greet us.  

He welcomed us and asked how he could help. Not if he could help, but how.  

We exchanged pleasantries and let him know we needed a new pair of running shoes to help alleviate the foot pain, but we didn’t know anything about the different brands or types of shoe. 

He was excited that we were there. It went beyond welcoming. He smiled of course, but he almost looked excited that he was about to share his shoe secrets with us.  

He graciously asked if we had ever purchased shoes from them before. We had not. His excitement grew like he knew something that we didn’t (he did). He asked what school my daughter attended and followed with the fact there was a 10% discount (I assumed off an inflated price, to begin with).  

It was at this point that he shared what was about to happen. See, at this running store, the process of selecting and purchasing a pair of sneakers was different than at your typical chain. They had a system for finding someone the perfect shoe. He set our expectations, but most of all, by explaining their process he immediately instilled buying confidence. We knew right then, before we’d even seen a pair of shoes, that this man and this store were going to deliver exactly what we needed. I stopped worrying so much about price and was buying into the solution. 

He invited my daughter to take a test jog down the track. Armed with an iPad he recorded her movements, then played it back in super slow motion, drawing on the screen like John Madden.  

Left ankle bends inward. Potential arch issue. 

He then lead us to the back of the store and invited my daughter to step onto a device that looked as if Apple, Tesla, and Nike all joined forces to create the ultimate shoe-fitting computer, a doctor’s scale with high resolution monitor and alien-like sensing arms. It registered her foot pressure points, measured her foot in 12 different places, and even rendered a 3D model of her feet. The sales clerk studied the images, tabbing between screens, and pointing out specific measurements and images of her test results with the skill of a radiologist.  

Armed with information, he suggested a base shoe that had the right arch support. He understood that the customer was a teenage girl and stressed that the black shoe he presented was merely a test shoe for basic fit and support. Another run down the test track. More results and feedback.  

Next, he brought out five pairs of shoes. Trying one after another with a jog down the track. Better or worse? Like an optometrist testing your vision. Eventually, only two contenders. At this point, style and color options came into play. He knew the priorities of his customer. 

As the financier of this great expedition, I asked about the price. I was so confident that the shoes would relieve the foot pain that I was prepared for a big number. He revealed the price. I was shocked. The two final contenders were no more expensive than your average pair of Nike’s at the sporting goods store. With the 10% school discount, they may even be less. 

With the winner selected, he said, “I think you’ve selected a great shoe here. I think this is exactly what you need.” He reinforced our decision. 

He invited us to the checkout counter and did something that I thought was brilliant. The shoes were for my daughter and he probably guessed I wasn’t much of a runner. He created the account under her name, with her contact information. Even though I held the credit card, he was going to market to her, not me. 

We wrapped up the transaction and he presented her with the shopping bag, like a prized trophy. He thanked us for shopping with them and let us know that if we had any questions about the shoes or anything else, to please call, email, or come by the store any time. 

We left and as we got into the car, it hit me. This was not only an exceptional shopping experience, it was an exact parallel to the art and science of selling travel. He had a Sales System and an Operations System, and he used these two systems in tandem to deliver his Service System. He understood the customer needs. Leveraging his Sales and Operations Systems (the measurement device, the fitting process, and his expertise) he could clearly articulate how he was going to ensure that we got exactly the product we needed. This created confidence in the experience, to the point that price was no longer a real concern. His systems were finely tuned to deliver a predictable result: the perfect fit. He layered excellent customer-oriented soft skills on top, being genuine and friendly.  

There are lessons to be learned in our everyday experiences. Behaviors to emulate or avoid. Systems to employ or eliminate. As you consider your travel business, think about how your Marketing, Sales, Operations, Service, and Education Systems deliver predictable results for your business. Think about how they create an exceptional travel buying experience. Test new ideas, and refine your processes. Layer on top of your genuine friendliness and willingness to help. That will keep your customers coming back for life.  

Systems produce business success. 

Best Success,  


PS – Four days later, we returned with another daughter for a new pair of running shoes. Different clerk. Different personality. Same process. Same result.