The connected economy makes it increasingly easier for us to be productive from the comfort of our laptop or smart device. You still can’t beat a face-to-face, though, and for that you need to travel.

I had occasion to travel yesterday, for a meeting in London, in and out from Ireland in the space of a few hours. Three events reminded me of how travel is still not the experience it should be, and it boils down – like most things, to how you treat customers and your peers, or in this case, fellow travellers, and how you plan.

Firstly, boarding the plane. It always amazes me how people will be oblivious to their fellow passengers as they block the aisles, take ages loading up their bags or taking things out of their bags before they sit down. And this is despite the gentle encouragement of the airline to find your seat as quickly as possible.  Is it so hard to plan out in your head as you look for your seat: ‘now what do I need out of my bag before I sit down and where is it? It’s like those people who queue in a shop to pay for something and then when it’s their turn they don’t have their money ready, as if the last thing they expected in the world was for them to be expected to pay for their item. Sheesh.

Secondly, near monopolies are always a problem from a service point of view. Take the much touted London Heathrow Express. I can’t think of a more expensive train journey on a per mile basis. I opted to go straight through Terminal 1 on arrival to use the bathroom on the train. Guess what? There was only 1 toilet on the train and it was out of order. I also have data roaming switched off when I travel overseas, so I wanted to use the wireless. Guess what? No wireless. ‘Oh dear, no toilet and no wireless,’ mused the conductor almost wistfully. Oh dear indeed. It’s 2013, you need to provide a better service for a 15-minute, £20 journey.

Thirdly, sometimes airports just don’t help themselves. The competition for your patronage among airports is really fierce, yet Shannon Airport must have taken the news about new Ryanair Routes coming to Shannon as a chance to take the day off. As we were coming into land, we started ascending, increasing in speed and circling. It turned out the Airport’s landing system and radar had become unserviceable (unserviceable – hello?!) and we were diverted to Dublin, where we refuelled and waited for them to fix things. As I waited in Dublin, I noticed on the airport website that the Ryanair flight (I was flying Aer Lingus) from Manchester had landed anyway. Maybe it’s true they don’t cary excess fuel and were landing come hell or high water. The fact that there either is no back-up system, or the back-up failed is amazing to me in an industry where ‘5 nines’ uptime is the sine qua non of being in the business. This meant I arrived 2 and half hours later than planned, and I went to enquire whether the airport would be prepared to pay for the extra parking. The airport in turn blamed Aer Lingus and the Irish Aviation Authority. I went to pay for my parking and found that by 9 minutes I had tripped over into the 12-24 hour rate, which was a staggering €19.50. When you drive into the parking the signage recommends you stay short term for under 24 hours, which is a serious disservice to those coming in and out in one day.

When we did land, we had the most labyrinthine route you can imagine to get out of the building, despite the fact that we were the only passengers left in the place.  It was as long as it takes to get out of Terminal 1, which is 10 times the size.

This kind of experience leads you to voice your frustration on the social media and online review channels, which in the connected economy comes back to bite the service provider. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you provide a good service, it creates a virtuous cycle, not a vicious one, to borrow from Michael D Watkins terminology.

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