WOW – I just had an awesome mini vacation! The family and I went down to LA for about 5 days of fun. This is our first trip together as a family, and we thoroughly enjoyed it! First I have to plug a few of the people we spoke to to make things happen.
First off – we booked our flight and hotel through Alaska Airways Vacations. I spoke to two different people there, first to Diane (wish I had her last name) and the help she gave was FANTASTIC! I have never spoken with such a dedicated person before. She answered all my questions, including the stupid ones. She booked everything for us because there was an issue with their website. She spent at leat ONE HOUR on the phone with me. Alaska Airways we WILL use you again in the future!
Next – I had to call back due to an issue with my credit card; they (AA) had set it as a US card, but in fact it was a Canadian card. The gentleman that helped me did a superb job.
We stayed at the Knotts Berry Farm Hotel – not 4 or 5 star by any stretch, but a good, decent and clean place to stay. I could complain about the beds and pillows – but you know what, the service was great. The front staff was very friendly and they never once complained about having to recode my key (I had to have it recoded everyday, sometimes twice per day because I kept putting it near my cell phone). They were great. Even their cleaning staff was great – they would always smile and greet you with a good morning if you ran into them in the hallways.
Next – Disney was superb! Their CS rocks. Plain and simple. Talk about GOOD customer service. Disney staff was great, friendly and ever so helpful. They made the trip very enjoyable. Even my wife was impressed by them! You couldn’t walk more than 5 or 10 feet without seeing a Disney employee – and ALL of them knew their stuff or were equipped to help you out!
San Diego Aquarium – well, they have OK CS. San Diego Wild Animal Park – well, they have OK CS. In both places, their restrooms could use SERIOUS work. And they certainly don’t have the number of people just walking around as Disney has.
Universal Studios – well, they have OK CS.
But definately, DISNEY would take the first place in Customer Service. They know how to treat their visitors/guests. They can be strict when needed, to ensure the safety of their visitors.
So the vacation was great, the food was OK; definately a big difference in how products are prepared from Canada to the US. For example, we went into a Pizza Hut – in Canada, they do everything for you. They refill your drinks, come by the table numerous times – but at the Pizza Hut we went to absolutely no service. The taste of the food was also very different – a lot less salt and sauce on the pizza.
But enough of my complaining.
Although I had gone there with the intention of a holiday, I also went to make observations on the surroundings – meaning, what types of products and/or services could be successfully exported from Canada to the US and specifically to where we were. In the week or so we were there, I found no less than 12 products/services that could be exported.
These could be bricks and mortar businesses, to virtual services that provide a physical presence as required.
While looking at what can be exported, I also take pains to look at what could be imported. What is being done right by US companies that can be used in Canada to give businesses an edge – I wasn’t looking at big businesses, but your regular corner stores; you know the mom and pop stores.
Some do an exceptional job (like Gourmet Burges – just off of Orangethorpe – that we went to was EXTREMELY clean, and provided friendly yet prompt service). Others need a lot of work (mostly the ethnic restaurants who don’t understand customer service or cleanliness).
So after all that, would I visit California again? YES! Anaheim was beautiful – the 6 lane highways were daunting at first since you can exit to the left AND right (whereas in Canada, most places exit to the right only). Next time we probably won’t hit Disney since my son is still a little too young for 90% of the rides (he’s not a thrill seeker and doesn’t like the roller coasters) but will spend more time shopping, sight seeing without stepping into the theme parks, and spending time at the beaches and relaxing.
Happy to be back in Canada where I can have a Tim Hortons coffee and donut!