Ski resorts by train

A phone call help you find a better ski holiday by train

Thu 22 July, 2021


Daniel Elkan

There’s an old joke about the partners at a solicitors’ firm, who are reluctant to speak with clients.

[Company phone rings]
“Cohen, Cohen & Cohen – how can we help you?”
“Hello, is Mr Cohen there please?”
“I’m sorry, but he’s away on holiday till next week.”
“Ah, OK. What about Mr Cohen?”
“He’s out at a meeting all day.”
“Well then, what about Mr Cohen?”
“Yes, speaking!”

Some companies make it clear that they would prefer it if you didn’t call them. They bury their phone number on a difficult-to-find page on their website. For these companies, conversations with clients, or potential clients, are an avoidable expense, rather than an opportunity.

This, of course, is a false economy. Sure, companies don’t want to have to pay staff to answer banal questions that could easily be answered on a website.  Or spend time trying to describe something where a photo or diagram could more clearly show it. But there are some things that can only really be communicated well, person-to-person, by phone.

By shunning calls, companies lose the opportunity to build trust and, give clients help that they couldn’t find online and get real feedback (the kind you don’t get from feedback forms).

Fortunately, the ski industry likes phone calls. And skiers like phone calls.

Phone calls, I believe, are an essential part of choosing a ski holiday.  That’s because there are multiple, overlapping factors that make up a ski holiday. And within each party, several people – whether friends or family members, who all have different needs, preferences and desires.  

Personally, I’d never choose a ski holiday without calling the holiday provider. Browsing all the photos, descriptions available won’t always give you a sense of whether something is right for you.  Sometimes, it takes a phone call. Of course, not everyone you call is going to know the answer to your questions.  Sometimes you call a company and realise that the person at the other end doesn’t have much of a clue. But that, in itself, is useful information too.

Snowcarbon gives holiday advice and recommendations. It helps skiers find the most suitable ski resorts, accommodation and journeys. I love helping people find something ideal, based on their requirements.  But I can only get a real sense of what is important to a client when we have a call. That’s because all the nuance resides in a conversation. Sure, emails help. But there’s nothing like listening, enquiring, interacting by phone to make sure you’ve fully understood what someone really wants — and what they don’t.

It’s only by fully understanding the needs of the party, that you can really help them find something as close to ideal as possible. And this takes a phone call.

Indeed, it actually is more effective than emails on their own.  Phone calls seem like they’ll be longer than dashing off an email, but the interactive nature of a conversation means that a richer understanding is achieved, far more quickly.

And yet, Snowcarbon doesn’t display its phone number on its website.  The reason for that is that I’d prefer people to email first, rather than getting calls out of the blue. As a small company, this enables Snowcarbon to serve clients better. By email one can establish the key facts and requirements, and then following that have a call to fill in the nuance. So, I only give my phone number to clients once email contact has been established.

Over the past year, I’ve made the decision that I almost certainly won’t help someone find a holiday without at least having a brief phone call first. But I know that I can help people so much better if we have a call.

I really enjoy the conversations. I get to find out about a party and what’s important to them; get a sense of where they’ve skied in the past, and what they thought of that destination. In this way, as well as helping people, I learn more about what people think of different resorts, which in turn helps me serve future clients even better.

And hopefully, I give them a feeling that I’m someone who they can trust — who is on their side in trying to help them find something suitable.

It also gives me a chance to outline how ‘Ask Snowcarbon’ works:

On the phone that explain that, after the call, I’ll send specific recommendations to the client, or send enquiries on behalf of the client to suitable tour operators or accommodations.  The client will receive specific suggestions and offers, which they can book directly with the provider.  If they do book, it’s the same price as if they’d contacted the provider directly, but Snowcarbon will receive a commission from the provider, which helps cover the time I spend. It’s a win for everyone, and good for clients to know this.

We do seem to live in an age where people find it much easier to text/email than to pick up the phone. I believe the best way to live one’s life — and to book ski holidays — is to find the right balance between all the forms of information and communication that are available to us.

Look forward to speaking with you in the future.