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“Q” is for Questions

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Yep, still working on A to Z. Do you know how hard it is to think of something for “Q”?

I firmly believe that the key to a good travel experience is questions. If you’re a traveller, you want to find out some things about your destination before you go – or perhaps, before you even choose your destination. If you’re selling or advising on travel, you want to ask your client questions before, and while, you put their trip together.

The best tack is to ask specific questions that aren’t open to ambiguous replies. Instead of asking, “Is there anything fun to do in Tennesee?” try asking, “What kinds of outdoor recreation can I find in the Nashville area?” On the other side of the desk, instead of asking “What do you like to do?” try asking “Would you rather go white water rafting, or do you prefer hiking?”

Getting good travel deals is often about asking questions too. When booking a room for instance, instead of asking, “What’s the price on a double for two?” you could ask, “Are there any current discounts on rooms at this location?”

Ask questions of friends and relatives, but again, try to be specific. Instead of “Did you like Rome?” try “What was the best thing about Rome? What was the biggest surprise? What did you wish you’d known beforehand?”

But try to remember that friends, relatives, colleagues and even the Internet don’t always have accurate information. Check with your travel professional. For example, as a traveller, I could tell you, “Oh, you can get reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table less than a week out.” And I did. But the reality is, “Cinderella’s Royal Table is a very hard reservation to get – they reserve a year out, so call as soon as possible and have a backup plan.”

If you’re embarking on the type of trip you’ve never taken before, don’t hesitate to ask your travel agent questions, even if you think they’re silly. “Does this package include a lot of walking? Will we be able to leave our belongings on the coach while we tour?”

The most important thing about questions is to ask what you really want to know. There’s a standing joke among Disney-philes that the most common question asked of on-the-ground Cast by visitors is “What time is the 3 o’clock parade?”

Think about it for a minute.

What the questioner really wants to know is, “what time should I choose my spot on the sidewalk?” Or, “If the parade starts at 3, what time will it pass this spot right here?” But that wasn’t the question, was it?

My daughter worked one summer as a custodian at Disney Studios. She shared a story with us of a guest who asked, one morning, “Where’s a good spot to view the High School Musical show?” My daughter replied, “Right here is an ideal spot.” The woman nodded, and sat down, in the spot – for the next several hours until the show began, because she hadn’t asked any advice about when to claim the spot, what time the show started, etc.

The questions you ask can make a big difference.