The Business End Of Excursions

I am about culture and customer service. To me they are the lifeblood of an organization. You can have a warehouse full of product, but without the customer, your business doesn’t exist yet. And your culture will scream at me how your customer service will be. For me, culture comes down to two things, actions and attitudes.

While I’m on vacation, I’ve had the opportunity to partake in a few excursions. Which, for me, is usually a frustrating thing. Why? Because quite often I experience really bad culture and customer service. There’s almost always someone being rude to the people who paying considerably more money than the excursion is actually worth. To me it’s just bad business.

You have to start out by realizing something – you’re being paid a lot of money, most likely in a beautiful setting, to take people who are on….wait for it…..VACATION, to experience something that most likely they’ve never experienced before. You can’t expect them to be anything but…..checked out. That’s right. We have to spend all of our time during the focused on work when we’re there. When we come to your backyard playground, we really don’t want to have to think.

Therefore, understand and treat us the way you would want to be treated when you go brain dead on your next vacation. Don’t yell. Don’t be rude. Use this opportunity, which you’re getting paid for, to help relax and experience happiness on the short time that we have off. And while some of us love what we do for a living, some don’t. Know that and be extra sensitive just in case that’s the person you’re talking to.

I say all of that to say, I experienced GREAT culture and customer service on the Dancing Dolphin yesterday in Saint Thomas. Yes, they are aware that the name doesn’t exactly scare off pirates. But the crew was incredible. They had fun. They weren’t rude. They made our experience worth more than what we paid. Being me, I had to tell them what I’m telling you now. In hopes that they never lose what appears to be a love for their job. And if it’s not, keep making me believe that it is. You’ve renewed my desire for excursions, if only for one more attempt at tourist bliss.

Question: How does experiencing the culture and customer service of other companies, affect the way you do business? 



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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

107 thoughts on “The Business End Of Excursions”

  1. RyanEggenberger

    Great post! I was thinking about this yesterday as I went to my butcher/organic market. The owner is Gary, and the culture he has built in his store is so great that I actually drive 20 minutes out of my way just to support his little business. The experience of shopping at his store is worth it. Thanks for sharing!

    1.  @RyanEggenberger We have an exotic cheese and cold cut market about 30 minutes away – the owner is also a master at creating wonderful and amazing experiences. We’ve gone back twice (just discovered him) but one thing I noted: My first experience was not the same as the second. It made me feel like the first time was a fluke. The second visit was good, but not nearly as ‘wow’ as the first time.
      Lesson: Wow needs to be systematically inserted into your organization, and practiced EVERY TIME. 

      1. @Aaron Nelson @RyanEggenberger WHOA! Hold the phone right there! You mean I have to create MULTIPLE and ONGOING Wow experiences??!? I didn’t sign up for this junk! I want my one Wow experience to last my customers 10-15 years!! Haha

  2. Noticing what is bad with other companies makes me realize what I don’t want here!  It helps to look at everything when you go into a company to make sure your not doing the very thing you get frustrated with! 
    I just listened to Michael Hyatt’s podcast about WOW.  Relates to this perfectly.  Check it out!

  3. Its everything, it shows me if I should emulate their business practices or run away from them. It shows me if I should be at their establishment period. Its very important to me how people treat me in their establishment. it goes a long way.

    1. @lincolnparks Good point! Experience is a great teacher, but when it comes to me, I’d prefer to use someone else’s experience! So you’re exactly right! You see what they do and either incorporate it or make sure it never occurs!!

  4. Chris, I like how you link the culture to customer service. The culture of a place will definitely affect the customer service. If team members are not working well together, harbor bad attitudes, etc., they will eventually start treating the customers that way. I’ve been looking at the Five Enemies of Unity lately. It is said, “Sanctioned incompetence demoralizes.” (John Maxwell) The truth is that all attitudes and actions can be contagious (the bad ones are easier to catch than the good ones). It may start with one or two people, but it can quickly spread even to the most dedicated team member.

    1. @JoshuaWRivers Great point josh. I think when culture is bad, employees get an “I don’t give a rip” attitude and less than stellar customer service is how they get back at the boss or the company!

      1.  @Skropp  @JoshuaWRivers More thinking… I think this kind of thing is most noticeable on the front-end, such as in a restaurant or store. The employees directly affect the customer service, and an immediate impression is made. On the back-end (like a factory or something), this has a few extra layers to trickle through. One person has a bad attitude; pretty soon the co-worker catches a little bit of “I don’t care.” Before too long, the next department receives poorer quality, so they get bitter at the others. The plague has spread to them, and soon passes to shipping. The customer is obviously not satisfied with a 2nd-rate product with a 1st-class price tag, so they call. The Customer Service reps are getting irked because of the increase in complaint calls. Anyway, it’s a downward spiral – I guess you could say the company is “screwed.”

    2.  @JoshuaWRivers boy is this worth memorizing and living. Culture drives service. Isn’t is frustrating that the bad is often easier to connect with than the good? 

  5. #1 that sounded like a bit of a rant Chris 🙂 haha
    #2 Lily said you were probably in some Caribbean wonderland!! BAH!!! sounds like she was spot on.
    #3 finally your question: seeing the customer service and culture in other places makes me often say, “I’m not doing it THAT way!” it gives me the view from the other side and allows me to understand what I appreciate as a customer.
    Great post buddy! Enjoy the vacation!

  6. Let’s face it, what Chris is talking about here is common!  Although, there are many of us out here trying to change things and be “uncommon”.  It makes me sad when I see this situation because I’ve lived in it and know how difficult it is to change a poor culture without the buy-in of the leadership (currently).
    I’ve personally handed out copies of Entreleadership to owners, CEO’s, & Board members in the hopes of making an impact on such companies.  However, attitude is everything and can prevent positive change on any level!
    Why do I feel like I’m on a soap-box right now?  Sorry about that!  I just feel like Dave / Chris have given us a secret sauce and we have to try and put it on everyone’s burger!  😉
    Good for Chris for complementing the good he saw!  We should all emulate that!

    1. @selfemployedbob I’ll fill in for Chris in this instance Bob… PREACH IT!!!!!
      It’s amazing how many people don’t want to improve culture, or think they’re “too busy” to work on culture. My thought is, if you don’t work on culture now cuz you’re too busy pretty soon you’ll have all sorts of time cuz no one will wanna work or frequent your business!!

      1.  @Skropp  @selfemployedbob Eeexxxactly!  Why is it that some people think it’s ok to let culture happen by accident?  Like, if we ignore it, it just doesn’t exist and has no impact on productivity?  FALSE!
        I guess we are all a part of it, so we just have to do the best we can to make a positive impact.  We need to start a corporate culture revolution!!!
        P.S.  I may have had too much coffee today.  🙂

        1. @selfemployedbob I think there’s alot of owners that wouldn’t even know what you meant by “company culture if you mentioned it to them haha

      2.  @Skropp  @selfemployedbob
        Do you think that the consumer is getting desensitized to bad customer service.  With so many large corporations treating people like a number it wouldn’t surprise me.  Maybe we, as the consumer, we need to go on the offensive.  Not just stop doing business with these companies, but let them know exactly why we have chosen to break up with them.

        1.  @Kevin Edwards  @Skropp  @selfemployedbob The book ‘Raving Fans’ speaks exactly to this:  that mediocre Customer Service is the norm.  I haven’t read Tribes, but I get the feeling that would have much the same vibe to it.

        2.  @Kevin Edwards  @Skropp It seems to me that in a weird way, we are letting them know by talking about it here.  That is, if we talk specifics (Starbucks).  Any large corporation worth their salt nowadays is monitoring their brand, right?

        3.  @CGreene801  @Kevin Edwards  @Skropp Haven’t read Tribes either.  Been thinking about signing up for so that I can listen to all these books that are pilling up on my desk at home.  Anyone tried that yet?

        4. @Kevin Edwards @selfemployedbob It’s not a bad idea…but just choosing to do business elsewhere is the capitalist idea. They should be proactive to ASK why we left, if they don’t care enough to ask and want I know, they probably don’t care enough to implement hat you’ll tell them anyway…

    2.  @selfemployedbob Man, that’s tough isn’t it? When you see something as obvious, but the people who really need to see it are blind or totally distracted. I think this is an important topic that needs further exploration: how do you influence up? 
      I love how you gave the Entreleadership book to people in charge in an attempt to influence change. I have recently done that with a Michael Hyatt podcast on Creating Alignment. Will it be ignored? I don’t know. But what I would like to learn is how to become an up influencer! Maybe that’s an important skill set to develop.

        1.  @Aaron Nelson  @Skropp  @Aaron Funny we are talking about this.  I just wrote a post on the subject.  I’m currently doing an experiment here at work on this exact topic.  Check it:

          I hate to be a shameless self promoter, but this is my passion!  I really think that Entreleadership is great, but I want to influence the other way.  Let’s face it, there are lot more of us grunts than there are people in charge.  What I’m talking about in the post is just one way of doing that.  Giving great books to powerful people is another.
          I’m fascinated by this topic and hope to develop it further!!!

        2. @selfemployedbob @Aaron Nelson @Aaron Looking forward to taking a gander at that post Bob! Thanks for being a “shameless self-promoter!”

      1.  @Aaron Nelson  @selfemployedbob “An up influencer” – colorful phrase, good topic to explore, definitely important skill to develop, and then teach us about it.

  7. Glad you’re enjoying your vacation! I’m there with you on tours and excursions.  Sadly a lot of them are a scam.  They get worse when you have to sit through  a time-share presentation to get tickets half-off because there is no other way to get a decent price.  Many people who work there just want to tour the world and have rent money and are not really passionate about the hospitality industry.  Or it’s what everyone else does in town.  With people like that, I have thought  “I don’t want to be that guy!” 
    You know what they say about pointing a finger at someone, there’s four fingers pointing back at you. So when I experience horrible customer service I try to do a health check about my own performance.  And when I experience awesome service, I want to learn from them.
    Thanks for a great post!!

  8. MattMcWilliams2

    I’ve found that I am at least 47% nicer and more customer service-oriented after visiting Wal-Mart or calling our ISP. After being treated like an inconvenience, I am more determined to treat people right.
    I also get a similar boost from visiting places like Chick-fil-A as I learn from them.

    1. @MattMcWilliams2 Haha. I love the scientific analysis of 47%!
      It’d true though. Those experiences do affect how I respond to other people throughout my day!

    2.  @MattMcWilliams2 I only feel 42% better, but I throw my towel over my shoulder and tell them ‘So long, and thanks for the fish!’

  9. Chris, glad your vacation post had a good ending! I was getting nervous halfway through the read, thinking you had another bad airline experience!

    As an example, and I know I’m going to get slack for this, I’m avoiding Starbucks for a while. Not to teach them any sort of minute lesson, as if I even registered on their radar, but I’ve had it with their poor customer service.

    No “hello”, “thank you”, or “have a nice day”. And heaven forbid you ask for a receipt. Lucky for them I have a caffeine addiction!

    1. @skottydog Go Scott! Us you not going there probably won’t hurt the bottom line…but if that type of service continues and thousands stop going there…it makes a difference. I think focusing on the one will give you hundreds, while only caring about the hundreds will LOSE you hundreds of “ones”

    2.  @skottydog Weird.  I guess it’s up to each barista.  I regularly go to two different locations, and one of them usually gives me good service, but it’s twice as far away as the other one.  Time and time again though, I find myself spending my certificates of appreciation there.  I go twice as far because the product consumed is only PART of the experience.At the one I go to, they told me a little secret about the card program:  Regardless of the drink you get initially, you CAN get a ‘free drip refill’ with your card, and, once you reach a certain level, you get free beverage customization, so, between the free drip refill and free beverage customization, you can make a coffee-based drink instead of the espresso based one.  I’ve had people at both locations tell me that’s not part of the plan, but they’ll do it ‘just this one time’, but the people at the call center have verified what the barista initially told me, so, I keep doing it.  And, when that barista is there, she ALWAYS gets a bigger tip than the other ones, whether it’s on the initial purchase, or the refill.Coffee-based does taste a little different than the original, but it also allows me to not feel so bad when I go splurge and go to Starbucks

    3.  @skottydog In support of your decision, I too will not go to Starbuck’s. (Never mind the fact that the closest one is probably 35 miles away and I don’t go anyway)

      1.  @cabinart Wow!  Sometimes I wish that I were 35 miles from one!  
        Sadly, the service I mentioned is more the norm than the exception.  In cases where I did have great service, I did tip well.  However, I never seem to have the same barista twice in a row when I do find a great service experience.

        1.  @lilykreitinger Yes, free coffee beats paid for coffee!  That’s why I go to AA meetings!  lol  Just kidding.  However, if there were such a thing as “Starbucks Anonymous”, what would they serve to drink?

        2.  @skottydog  @lilykreitinger Water, not infused with java.  It’s like Caffeine-Free Diet Coke.  They got another word for that:  Water.

        1. @lilykreitinger @skottydog Lily- anything described as “surprisingly hot chocolate LIKE” I have a hard time believing would be decent…but if it is, it would certainly be surprising haha

  10. How my experience of other company’s culture and service impacts the way I do business?
    – I’ve learned that I must create Wow systematically. Not just once or twice. The client needs to have the same or better experience with you. Not once great, the next average, the next good again. 
    Consistent Wow. 

    1. @Aaron Nelson I love Michael hyatt’s definition of Wow. I’m just starting his new podcast and it’s awesome so far!
      He says a wow experience is when you exceed your clients expectations. And that’s what you’re talkin about!

        1.  @cabinart  @Skropp  @Aaron I like that. Our internet provider promised to send us our new wireless modem in a week. It arrived in less than 24 hours via courier. That was WOW. 

        2.  @cabinart  @Skropp  @Aaron The only problem I have with this is people lowering the bar to lower the customer’s expectations when you know exactly that you can kill the target you are promising them.  I understand that you do have to give yourself some wiggle room, but, where do you draw the line of under-promising?  This seems like a slippery slope, a fine line to walk.  Any advice on where to set the expectation, or is it really trial and error to get a feel for it?

        3.  @CGreene801 I agree that it is somewhat trial and error. Those that are exaggerating the under promise are untruthful in my mind and I would discontinue my business. As I customer, I would rather hear “It should be done in three days” then get it in 1 or 2 days rather than “it could take a week” when they know it is July and the only way it will take a week is with a snowstorm. 

        4. @CGreene801 @cabinart @Aaron Great point! That’s why I said my emphasis is on the over deliver. I think the point is don’t over promise just to make people happy at that moment, or get the sale. Stephen R. Covey in The Seven Habits talks about how we often will promise things we can’t actually deliver because the other person will be happy at that moment with the promise. But this leads to disappointment later (opposite of wow). To me under promise, over deliver is basically saying give realistic expectations, don’t blow them out of proportion…but thn deliver…out of proportion! Make sense?

        5.  @CGreene801  @Skropp  @Aaron When I accept commissions for drawing or paintings,  I only promise what they asked for (if I am able to do it). Then, when I get an added idea or find a way to enhance the piece, I just throw that in and let them be happily surprised.
          Under-promising for me is simply stating what they expect but creating a bit more when possible.

        1.  @lilykreitinger  @selfemployedbob  @Skropp  @Aaron  Yeah, I guess it is kind of a different language.  Just hate it when I think I’m being funny and all I hear is crickets.  😉

  11. My husband plowed snow in a National Park until he retired in April. He had many stories about folks stopped in the middle of the road during snow storms. He’d have to get out of his big yellow machine and tell them to move, or help them move, or show them how to put on chains, or explain why there are turn-outs or teach them that their lives were actually in danger or that a blind curve heading uphill wasn’t a good photo opportunity. . . He always said that they were very much out of their element and that they left their brains at home.

  12. One definition of character is “character is what you do when you think no one is looking,” then could one definition of culture be; “culture is what your company does when they think no one is looking?”

  13. Bad customer service kills me because it is just a variant of rudeness! I had an experience just the other day of bad service.  No one was directly rude, but they just seemed lackadaisical.  They worked so slowly and it took twice as long for me to get in and out as it should have. I won’t say who the company was, but their initials are Subway.

    1.  @Kevin Edwards I have had the same experence.  Our local Subway had a gal that MOVED!  Remembered peoples orders and was happy!  The people they have in there now, well, not sure what you would call them…

    2. @Kevin Edwards I love that! Bad customer service is a variant of rudeness! I’ll bet most of the people doing it never think foot as being rude!!! If someone mentioned that to them, they may change!!

  14. Here’s the sandwich reference by @selfemployedbob: I think this is where knowing exactly who you are targeting is really important. Just like any product, you have to completely understand what their problem is and fix it. Not just fix it, but fix it perfectly and make them a sandwhich! 😉

      1.  @selfemployedbob Are you kidding? It’s awesome. Best customer service expression. Fix their problems and make them a sandwich! Turkey breast on mutigrain with avocado and chipotle mayo! 🙂

    1.  @lilykreitinger I had heard sandwich references before, but usually it’s in a derogatory sense.  Glad to see sammiches are getting the love they deserve.

  15. I have been at a conference today and one of the session talked about customer service in higher education. One state institution that had a meltdown in about two weeks time shared how they are continuing to work to fix the problems–parking, web services, housing access, id cards, email, payment system, mass layoff, food services, and more. The president’s new manta is “If your service is so bad we lose four students because of it, you will lose your job [the employee to student ration is about 4:1]. Fix the service or we will!” I found it to be a little harsh, but hearing what the stress of those two weeks brought, understandable. Gives real meaning to @skottydog ‘s comments in a different comment about withholding your patronage. 

    1. @ChristianNick @skottydog I can see it being beneficial to directly tie bad performance to lost customers…makes their attitudes and service seem real important, real quick!

  16. @DeannaLRobinson Chris, this is EXACTLY what we are working on at my husband’s Dental clinic.  The team is getting excited, even Dr. Harold, my father-in-law is getting on board with the whole “culture thing”.  To follow the EntreLeadership plan, instead of hoping that culture will seep in, is making a huge difference.  We want everyone’s experience to be Positive, which is contrary to how most people view their experience at the Dental office.  That doesn’t just happen, it’s planned for.

  17. Well guys, it’s Friday and Chris must be laying under a palm tree watching the waves roll up on the beach.
    It’s Friday!! Let’s talk today about

    “What is your dream?” What are you doing to accomplish it? What challenges are you facing?

    Unless of course you have another topic you wanna cover…then start a thread and bring it up!! Get all your friends here!! Maybe we can increase Chris’ page views while he’s sunning himself!!

    1.  @Skropp Dream: become 100% debt free. Reality? A galaxy far, far away. 
      To accomplish it: I’m trying to learn how to create teamwork at the homefront. I am the problem, and I am the solution + WE are the problem, and WE are the solution. Helping my wife and I realize that truth has been a big deal. 
      Our next thing to learn how to do: budget – get on the same page financially. As Dave says: learning how to do that is a book in itself! 
      So to Mark’s dream question – I wonder if we could add:
      How have you maintained your drive to accomplish your dreams while struggling to gain traction? This week I have had lots of drive – but feel like my tires are spinning sometimes. 
      Have an awesome Friday my friends!

      1. @Aaron Nelson Maintaining your drive while struggling to gain traction..that’s the million dollar question isn’t it? I’d say first off that finding the answer…or creating it is what serparates the successful from the otherwise.
        And then I would quote a friend who used I say “there’s nothin’ to it but to do it”. I think you just gotta grit your teeth and keep on keepin’ on. And remember that “this too, shall pass”

        1. @Aaron Nelson it’s one of those reminders we all know, but it’s hard to tell yourself when you’re in the thick of it…that’s why friends are great 🙂

  18. Dreams become goals when you add a deadline to them. If you want to be debt-free, write down, I will pay $x amount in debt by September 30th… Or contact a mentor in July to talk about my business… Following up on Aaron’s comment, if you feel you’re losing steam, think about how you will feel when you’ve accomplished your goal.

    1.  @lilykreitinger AMEN!  In 2005, I wrote down 100 things I wanted to do before I died (bucket list) after reading the book “The Power of Focus”.  Today, I have checked off 10 of those!  

    1.  @Skropp  I probably shared this before. When we were looking to buy a home, we wrote down a list of items we wanted in it.  It took us over six years to find the one that had EVERY single item and then some.  I don’t  think we would have succeeded if we hadn’t visualized the home on that list.

      1. @lilykreitinger The reason I ask is that I had the idea of writing down what my camp will be like, but doing so as if it was a newspaper magazine article written 5 or 10 years from now. Would that be a beneficial exercise do you think ?

        1.  @Skropp  @lilykreitinger There is a great book titled <a href=”″>Write It Down, Make it Happen</a>. It talks about writing down your goals and visualizing future goals how you hope they work out. Easy read and I highly suggest it!

  19. When I had an excruciating (and terrible) experience with a dentist, I immediately wrote about it – and compared it to how we in the mortgage business handle potential home buyers through our office (Part 1 –  And then put some policies in place that would ensure that others would never have the experience with our office that I had had with the dentist! 

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