Business team culture expert Dianne Crampton of Bend, Oregon and author of TIGERS Among Us: Winning Business Team Cultures and Why They Thrive, was among the tens of thousands of travelers who found themselves stranded in Europe due to the Icelandic volcano eruption. Crampton was in Europe taking a look at team behavior in certain business operations on the continent. The prolonged airline chaos afford her a chance to observe up close and personal institutional responses to a crisis for which airlines and governments were clearly unprepared to handle.
Crampton found herself stranded in southern Spain unable to catch flights to Paris and then on to the US Information from the airlines, governments and media, which she said was always confusing and often contradictory. Travelers struggled with decision-making: Do I go to the airport? Do I rebook? Do I simply sit and wait? What if the volcano blows again?
"How airline authorities, businesses and governments deal with the crisis either calmed or added to the chaos caused when up to 80,000 people were stranded daily by flight cancellations," Crampton said.
"What I observed from other organizations, however, was disorganization caused by break in communication, collaboration and sensible customer service policies among Governments, businesses and air carriers. in trying to return home, many travelers only found themselves in worse situations than if they had just stayed put and waited. "
Crampton's book TIGERS Among us provides breakthrough guidance on corporate behavior that not only improves customer satisfaction and customer loyalty but also improves team business practices that leads to increased business success. She defines an approach to corporate behavior that allows for the satisfaction and productivity of both customers and business by employing ethical behaviors that support trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success – TIGERS – in the workplace and that meets the closest scrutiny.
Those European businesses that calmed the chaos, according to Crampton, extended traveler lodging at reduced cost, assisted travelers with information that improved their problem solving, helped British travelers to cooperatively hire tour busses to take them to ferry terminals in France so they could cross the channel into England and offered discounts on meals. And for those travelers who opted to stay put like Crampton, as more good information filtered through the chaos, better decisions were made.
"What this shows to other tourism-related businesses is that it is important to think through and anticipate any crisis or challenge that calls for contingency planning. "adds Crampton.
Crampton's book offers guidance on how businesses can build strong teams and stakeholder relationships that will benefit them in challenging times, such as the April airline crisis.
Examples of proactive Spanish business policies included:
1. Condominium travel clubs allowing stranded guests to extend their stay on a week by week basis when space was available and when air flights were canceled.
This action reinforces all six of the TIGERS values. The RCI travel club, for example, has resort locations around the world and has experienced natural disasters such as earthquakes, title waves and fluke weather storms that have disrupted travelers in the past. The policy to cooperate with stranded members is a win-win for everyone. It keeps independent businesses within or on the periphery of the resort facility busy with customers. It keeps resort staff busy and employed. The aftermath of natural and weather-related disasters often results in future canceled tourist travel plans which results in vacant facilities. By helping stranded members in times of crisis, the company insures customer satisfaction that frequently results in referrals that extremely results in business growth.
2. Small merchants willing to accept foreign currency from travelers unable to access euros so that travelers could purchase emergency food and necessities. The common practice is to refuse the currency and make travelers take the bills to banks for exchange. The practice of transferring the problem to banks results in heightened anxiety and more problems for tourists already affected by scarcity.
3. Small restaurants that patched together wholesome and affordable meals for stranded travelers at affordable prices experienced a rush in business. Stranded travelers who were looking for affordable meal options were quick to refer restaurants to fellow stranded travelers. They were also quick to report experiences of dissatisfaction as well. Therefore, those businesses that behaved fairly and who offered good meals at a modest profit benefited from volume sales as traveler resources grew more depleted.
Dianne Crampton founded TIGERS Success Series in 1987 and has helped merging companies and entrepreneurs build highly successful businesses. In TIGERS Among Us shows how businesses like Tribe, Inc., Zappos.com, 4Refuel, and Dos Gringos have built highly successful businesses that demonstrate trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success on a day-to-day basis .
Ultimately, according to Crampton, it was rewarding to see businesses in southern Spain demonstrate trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success at a time of chaos and to see how quickly these businesses calmed the frayed nerves of worried travelers.