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Interview: road warrior Gregory Daniel

Posted: 18 July 2015
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Q: Can you tell us about diptyque and your role within the company? Gregory: Diptyque is a luxury French perfume house that was founded in 1961 and based in Paris. We have over 20 diptyque shops and a strong presence in exclusive retailers Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom. I live in San Diego and as the Regional Sales Manager for the West Coast; I am responsible for the success of 25+ points of sales in my region. Q: How many miles do you fly annually for business? Gregory: Between my sales territory, our US head office in New York, and global headquarters in Paris; I fly over 100,000 miles on domestic and 50,000 on international. All economy class except a few status upgrades or when there is a sell-out situation. Q: How do you keep track of all your bookings, logins, loyalty programs, etc.? Gregory: I try to only fly on American Airlines or their partners for mileage accrual and therefore track my flights and loyalty points, status, etc. with them. Same idea with hotels: I’m very loyal to the Kimpton brand so I go to their site for my account information but often use hotels.com to make the bookings because I get 1 free night for every 10 nights booked. Q: When booking a new flight, what is most important to you other than mileage/status, and will you pay more for it? Gregory: Non-stop service, a good Wi-Fi connection, and additional legroom are extremely important to me. I will pay more for those inclusions, probably up to $200 more per round-trip. I will even exclude certain airlines from my search, because I know they won’t provide this additional level of comfort. Q: When booking a hotel, what is most important to you other than status, and will you pay more for it? What value has led to your loyalty with Kimpton? Gregory: There are three parts to your question. First, I almost only travel tomajor cities and they have hotels that are centrally located in these metropolitan areas. Second, they generally speaking have good restaurant choices, the rooms are clean, and the staff is consistently friendly. Third and probably most important, as a premium member I enjoy a wide variety of complimentary amenities such as free water, wine in my room (which I usually give to my sales team), flexibility for last minute changes/cancellations, and upgrades. I also find redeeming my loyalty points much easier than through other chains or credit card programs. Q: How has ride-share changed your ground transportation arrangements? Gregory: A lot. Like I mentioned before, I mainly travel to major cities so I rarely need a car rental and used to use taxis to get around. Uber now provides the vast majority of my local transportation. I think I’m already over 25 bookings since January 1, 2015.
I do everything online unless I need to have an issue that has to be fixed by someone on the phone. Gregory Daniel, Road Warrior
Q: It sounds like diptyque has a flexible travel policy. How important is this to you? Gregory: Because I spend so much time on the road, being able to book based on my needs (and within reasonable costs of course) makes me more productive and relaxed. For example, thanks to my status on my preferred airline and hotel chain, I rarely have to wait in line whether it’s at the airport, hotels, or on the phone. I also think that the complimentary amenities I receive as a loyal customer are often worth more than the difference with the lowest available cost. In short, having the ability to book as I’ve described is extremely important to me and my performance at work. Q: What role does technology play in your life as a business traveler? Gregory: An integral part! I do everything online unless I need to have an issue that has to be fixed by someone on the phone. Q: What is your favorite travel app and how often do you use it? Gregory: I like to have my calendar open when booking and try to do so 14+ days in advance. I mainly use my desktop for anything travel. However, I do use mobile apps like AA’s to check in for my flight, get notified of delays, or gate assignment, etc. I see my mobile usage increasing in the years to come. Q: We understand that you used to book your business travel through an agency but that you’re now doing it yourself. Why the change? Gregory: You’re correct. We used to go through a corporate agency but the booking process was too long and the customer service was not worth the wait time. For example, I would have to email my requests, wait for an answer which would come within one or two hours (at best). Also, I often knew more about the available carriers or aircraft type on a specific route than the travel consultant. Q: Would you consider working with a travel management company again? Gregory: Yes. If everything I mentioned before were available to me including online booking via a single source, I would be interested. But I’m not responsible for these decisions so for anyone else reading this out there, please do not solicit me! J Q: What is your favorite part of traveling? Gregory: Meeting new people in different places and discovering new places to eat! Q: What is your least favorite? Gregory: Delays! Q: Any tips for the many road warriors out there like yourself? Gregory: Find suppliers you really like and stay loyal. The benefits will pay off. A great example is my experience with American Airlines. I’ve been an AAdvantage member and primarily flying with them since 2005. This was when the aircraft really needed a facelift and way before they announced the massive deployment of a new fleet. Now that these new airplanes are in the air, with more on the way, my loyalty is paying off.