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Published:January 3rd, 2007 11:47 EST
A Simple Way to Keep Nothing From Happening

A Simple Way to Keep Nothing From Happening

By Terry Sumerlin (Mentor/Columnist)

A customer once told me that by simply asking for an upgrade at check-in he usually flies first class. I thought that was worth remembering. After all, who couldn`t do with two bags of peanuts and a whole can of pop? Seriously, first class means much more than outrageous rates for wider seats or for the privilege of getting on and off the plane first. Considering who is often in first class, it can be a great networking opportunity. Anyway, next time I flew I decided to give my customer`s approach a try.

With the confidence that usually goes with ignorance, I asked the lady at the ticket counter, Is there any chance I could get an upgrade? "

I don`t know, " she replied. " What did you intend to give in exchange? " Apparently she expected air miles or something of that sort.

I flashed what I thought was my most winsome smile. I guess just my charm and good looks. " If she thought I was kidding she never let on. It`s a wonder she didn`t have security detain me. I later reasoned that because my customer retired as manager of the local office of the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) he likely receives preferential treatment.

This airport incident came to mind on Christmas Eve, as I stood at the registration desk in the nearby Hyatt Hill Country Resort. Because we had our family time Thanksgiving, and our children and spouses had their own plans for Christmas, Sherry and I decided a Hyatt-empty-nest holiday would be nice. An upgraded one would be even better.

As we pulled into a near empty parking lot, our chances for an upgrade looked pretty good. So, at the desk I was peaking on confidence. Hoping that the lady behind the counter was peaking on generosity, I asked, Is there a chance we could get an upgrade? " She saved Sherry the embarrassment of my charm and good looks " line when she quickly said, Let`s see. "

When we got to our room, Sherry opened the door. She was absolutely overwhelmed. Though in traveling I`ve seen a few hotel rooms I, too, was a bit overwhelmed. It was a gorgeous, luxury suite, with a maximum room rate of $1000. We got it for the basic online rate " and just for asking!

As we headed downstairs for lunch, we passed the desk and the young lady that had handled our registration. We made it a point to thank her profusely for the wonderful accommodations. Then I began thinking about what had happened, and continued thinking about it until Christmas evening when I sat down at the computer.

One of the first things that came to mind was if we ask for what we want, we run the risk of SOMETIMES being told no. " That is unpleasant, yet rarely harmful or fatal. On the other hand, when we don`t ask for what we want the answer is ALWAYS no. " So, what do we have to lose?

Such being the case, I began thinking of applications. For instance, how many sales do you suppose have been lost because the salesperson didn`t just ask for the order? How about add-on sales? How many times have we put up with a less than desirable table at a restaurant by not simply asking for a better one? How many serious discussions " have occurred because we expected our spouses, children, staff or friends to be mind readers; when we should have candidly expressed what we wanted or expected?

We must always be courteous and reasonable in our requests, and grateful when they are met. That said, remember this: A terrible thing happens when we fail to ask for what we want " nothing!

BARBER-OSOPHY: To get what you reasonably want and expect, courteously ask.

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