Hire Julia Lee

*UPDATE: Julia has been nabbed by Sra. Rushmore in Madrid. So you’ll have to wait and lure her away with more money in a year or so.

I’ve shifted the focus of my OCD from Orbitz to Julia Lee. Let me introduce you to her. She’s one of THREE new members to my survey team so I’ve had the chance to get to know her. As her resume will show, she went to the San Francisco Academy of Art and studied planning under the tutelage of Cameron Maddux who runs the program (and reminds me that I want to tell you all more about the great things they’re doing there in another post.)

She even has a portfolio of her thinking and keen aesthetic sense so there’s no commitment. Just have a browse and let her smarts do the talking. Then you can pick up the phone and bring her on board. Wouldn’t it be sooo luxurious to have a clever newbie to help on all those projects?

Art Directors sluttier than Planners

Mariota Essery just completed her wrap up of the first ever art director survey. Perhaps art directors are less interested in surveys – 101 found the time to take this one – but she’s definitely taught me a few things in terms of presentation. These are some really pretty charts and graphs! The most surprising finding for me was how many art directors changed jobs last year (40%) compared to planners (32%). And even more surprising the number thinking about leaving their job in the next year (46%!) compared to planners (36%). So if you like your art directors and you don’t want to go through the drama and expense of replacing them, perhaps you should show them some more love. Have you hugged your art director today?

Will Orbitz make this right?

Orbitz recently screwed two friends of mine. I’m vowing not to use them again – publicly – until they make this right. I want to see if making some blog and twitter hub bub will result in a positive outcome, so if you’ve received any value from my planner survey and are willing to do me a little favor, would you please take a look at this sob story and join me in tweeting “I’m boycotting @Orbitz” until they fix this?

In July, my friends Ian and Mariota booked a flight on Olympic Airlines, flying via Athens to Johannesburg on the 17th December through Orbitz. Because they booked this flight in July, it was a really good price.

In September, Ian received an email saying there was a change in the itinerary. This was only a change of a couple of hours, but nothing out of the ordinary. Orbitz did not say to contact them.

On November 28 Ian received another email saying to contact Orbitz as there was a major change to the flight.

For the first 5 or so calls to Orbitz, no one could help. All they could say was the flight had been canceled, but no one could get hold of the airline. On one call to Orbitz, they spoke to a man who had no idea what to do, got frustrated, and told them to contact Olympic Airline directly as he just couldn’t get through to them then hung up on them. He said it had nothing to do with Orbitz.

Ian and Mariota did their own investigation, and realized without Orbitz revealing the truth, that Olympic Airline had been bought by Olympic Air in September (This now begins to get confusing – please note Olympic Airline became Olympic Air). Olympic Air does not fly to South Africa. Ian and Mariota called Olympic Air and they said it’s got nothing to do with them, Orbitz is the agent and they need to liaise with them.

They then called Orbitz back saying it was unacceptable since this merger had happened in September, and they had not been notified about this. They could have easily booked another flight then. Ian and Mariota spoke to them every day since 28th November, and Orbitz said they were going to contact Olympic Air and rebook Ian and Mariota on another flight. This was promised again and again. However, because Orbitz and Olympic Air are several time zones apart days went by without the two companies connecting. Orbitz never called Ian and Mariota back despite promising to do so. They had to chase them every day. They had to speak to numerous operators, tell the same story over and over again, some not understanding at all.

Last night, Ian said they have to sort this out – they were scheduled to fly in a week. They finally got put through to a manger who said nothing can be done, and Ian and Mariota are being refunded the money for the flights. Of course, Christmas flights to South Africa are now 500-800 euros more per ticket!

I just think this is appalling. Not only is the customer service so bad (they fail to call you back even when promising) but also, they must have known about this merger in September, and they could have sorted it out 3 months ago rather than a week before. Will you help me get Orbitz to make this right? I think they should pay the difference for the new tickets they have purchased. If you agree please spread this post, tweet that you will boycott Orbitz, and anything else you can think of. Many thanks loyal planners!

UPDATE – tonight after just a few hours of your very kind support, someone from Orbitz’ PR firm in Chicago called Ian and offered their apology and a $300 Orbitz voucher. They must not have seen the news lately – that’s the equivalent of 200 euros, 20% of what their fuck up will cost Ian and Mariota to rebook new flights this late in the game. To me, they are admitting they are in the wrong but not making it right.

But this also shows the amazing power of people to raise issues. I know I’ll use this as an example of how to get social media strategy WRONG. Number one rule of listening is the golden rule, or don’t bother. Nice try Orbitz, but you’re just a robot with no heart. It’s fucking Christmas. She’s bringing her boyfriend to her home country for the first time and the whole process has been rife with stress. These are two of the NICEST people, which is why I’m even involved. You have pushed my friend to tears more than a few times. Orbitz certainly hasn’t earned my respect or my business back.