This article may take 10 minutes to read through, but may be worth reading.
Have you ever entered a facility and something was not quite right? Maybe no atmosphere, maybe too much or too little noise, maybe magazines completely scattered about, flowers that clearly haven’t been watered on time, bathrooms in need of attention, or just a simple welcome message failed to deliver? This article is not a review of an FBO, but a spotlight on a recent experience I had inside an FBO.
On my most recent non-business related visit to a local FBO, I was sent there to pick up my brother-in-law, who was set to arrive within the hour, flying in from New York. I have only had the pleasure of visiting this facility one other time back in 2016 to pick up another family member, who was in for the weekend.
Now, I have been in dozens of FBOs over the years and the experience has felt for the most part, inviting, friendly and welcoming. Every now and then someone forgets something, but hey, it’s life. I forget charcoal when I’m literally at the store to buy meat to grill. It happens!
As an owner of a business that specifically serves FBOs, I tend to be somewhat critical when it comes down to first impressions of a facility. However, this visit was different. I was there to pick up “my bro” and catch up on the “dad life” with a worry-free smile. I was dressed down, unshaven and in desperate need of a coffee.
As I entered the facility, I could smell the coffee, but unable to locate. I was hoping to avoid any sort of greeting by the FBO desk, but I was prepared to throw out my famous smile, perhaps a fake name just for kicks (it's Vegas) and an explanation of why I stumbled into the facility, frantically hunting down coffee. This particular facility is not a part of my business network, so I was simply a guest.
As my flip flops slid across the floor, I entered the passenger seating area and located a spot to plop down and watch the ramp activity along with a few others. There really wasn’t too much activity to see, as there was a courtesy car parked directly in front of the floor to ceiling windows. Bummer.
Although the courtesy car blocking the view was slightly unpleasant, that was not entirely the issue. The mission critical issue was the wall-mounted television that was blaring out some political biased-news followed by a local vehicle dealership advertisement, at a higher-than-normal volume level. Perhaps the television was malfunctioning but nonetheless, the volume needed to be lowered. Judging by the look on the other visitors faces, the concern was mutual.
As I located the television remote, I found the remote to be inoperable. That lead another guest of the facility to then search for the power button on the tv, to simply turn the tv off. This new flat screen had no buttons we quickly found out. This entire experience carried on for almost three minutes before I made the executive decision (as I tell my children) to pull the power plug out of the wall to finally silence the room. What a relief to the four of us in the passenger seating area. I felt as if I had saved the day, as I felt earlier on my way to the FBO and I chose to not run a yellow light and another vehicle did. Could have been catastrophic!
This experience led to a healthy 15-20 minute discussion with these other unknown guest sitting around me. The discussion involed how FBOs tend to just throw up a television(s) on a wall, plug in some cable and turn on the news, sports, or the Weather Channel, assuming the in-terminal guest should be "satisfied" with the FBO choice of programming.
Well, based upon these other guest opinions, we came to the conclusion that news, sports and bland-commercial programming that local cable tv companies deliver, just doesn’t satisfy and becomes more of an annoyance than anything.
Now, these individuals had no clue who I am, what I do for a living, and were probably wondering if I was a taxi-driver waiting on an arrival, mooching off of the FBO complimentary coffee, judging by my choice of attire.
I began to ask prying questions about what types of programming these guest would prefer to watch, when a guest inside an FBO. Categories such as boating, travel, dining, residence tours, flash weather, branded social media on-screen, and the like began to bring a smile to their faces. These are things that typically interest the in-terminal guest, and the rest of the world. I can’t remember the last time I arrived home from a trip or utilized an FBO for their purpose, and was excited to see what was on TV. Wait a minute, I can remember the last time I enjoyed what was on TV. It just was not this FBO TV service.
FBOs, here is a list of 13 things to really consider going into 2018:
1. What is it that your guest want to see
2. What will your guest talk about as they leave your facility
3. Why do you pay so much for senseless cable tv
4. Is there a digital engagement alternative specific to FBOs
5. Why isn’t your FBO compensated from all the cable commercials
6. How do you wish an employee Happy Birthday on screen in your FBO or your entire FBO network?
7. How do you tell your guest arriving where the meeting is upstairs without drawing a map with a marker
8. How do you point your guest to that really expensive Starbucks coffee maker corporate invested in, to keep the hospitality area clean and clutter free
9. How do you welcome arriving guest and their crew effortlessly
10. How do you let crews and passengers know of very important facility news
11. How do you tell your guest about local attractions and events in the area to see while they are in town
12. Is there a way for the FBO guest to take your branded FBO TV with them wherever they go on a mobile device to keep them engaged with your brand and offerings forever
13. How do you convey your appreciation to your workforce of their dedication network-wide
The “FBO experience” is so much more than who has the least expensive fuel and discounted ramp and facility fees. Without a satisfied guest, there is no repeat business. Why aren’t we all working together for the greater good and growth of the industry? Your guest and their happiness is your life line. Remember, your affluent guest can go anywhere they want. They are not committed to your brand, but maybe they should be? The in-terminal experience is as important, if not more important, than how good your coffee taste.
-Phillip Beck Jr.