Canadian Rental Service

At your service: Innovate with a plan

By Russ Dantu   

Features Business Intelligence advice canada dantu innovate rental service

Different is only better if it’s done intelligently.

Be cool! Stand out! Be so different that people cannot help but want to do business with you.

In theory, that is a great idea but you may have noticed some businesses just don’t seem to think things through properly.

My wife and I, along with another couple, just got back from a wonderful vacation in Negril, Jamaica, where we spent 11 days in pure bliss. We stayed at the Couples Swept Away Resort and it lived up to its reputation. Warm, friendly staff; magnificent food options; decent entertainment; and, of course, seven miles of white sand beach on the turquoise blue Caribbean Sea. I highly recommend this property.

I’d say Couples Swept Away has thought things through pretty well. But in order to get to Jamaica, we had to go through Lester B. Pearson airport in Toronto to connect to another flight. This happens regularly when flying from Western Canada to those parts of the Caribbean. You can get direct flights but on the days we were flying, we could not. Pearson is the largest airport in Canada. Like most airports, the vendors in there seem to have higher prices for most products you buy. We all suck it up if we want a chocolate bar and a bottle of water as we know it costs more in an airport, but we pay it and move on.

I see an awesome opportunity in most airports for restaurants and shops to really up their game in the “being cool and standing out” area. But there was one restaurant in Pearson that became an example of how not to do this. We needed breakfast and it was fairly close to our gate. It had a variety of “pick up and fly” products you could just buy, but they also offered full cooked breakfasts. On each table were iPads with the menus which also doubled as different games you could play while waiting for your order. Cool idea…and different. There didn’t seem to be any staff around except the cashier and one person clearing plates from tables.

We glanced at the menu and I decided to ask at the counter if they could make the breakfast quickly so we could make our flight. I got up there, said good morning and ordered two of the bacon and egg breakfasts. She replied, “Sorry sir, I cannot take your order. You have to order from your iPad. You pay through that and then the meal will come out when it’s ready.”

I said, “Hey, I’d much prefer just ordering it through you as we are a bit tight on time. Can we please do that?”

“Sorry sir, I cannot do that through this register. You can only buy the pre-packaged items behind you. Would you like to do that instead?”

As I walked away, two older couples were next in line behind me. I could hear them also failing to order breakfast. One of them explained that they didn’t do technology so could someone help them. That wasn’t possible either…there were only two staff working.

As I paid almost $28 for a couple bottles of water and yogurt parfaits I thought about this restaurant’s incredible opportunity to be different than any other restaurant in the airport. Being cool and standing out is definitely what we should strive to do, but in this case, they really didn’t think it through. Seniors travel a lot because they are retired. Frustrating seniors because they cannot order at the till just doesn’t make good business sense. Innovation is fabulous, but cutting too many staff to try to make some extra money on top of the silly amount the place was already charging risks alienating customers from returning. Many people use airports frequently and will remember their good and bad experiences.

Be cool and definitely be different, but think about what you do from the point of view of all your customers.

Russ Dantu is a 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer service for over 15 years. Visit

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