It’s easy to compare the differences between train and air travel.Speed and cost are the obvious ones, which reminds me of the old consultant’s saw: “Quality, Speed or Price, choose any two.”Meaning that you can choose two of those, but the third is likely to suffer.When it comes to long-distance public transportation, most people tend to choose speed, unless they’re going from NW Montana to Salt Lake, Seattle or Portland with a car-sized group of staff members.Making the speed / quality / price choiceRecently I had that choice to make and decided to try Amtrak. My wife and I recently became empty nesters and had wondered about taking the train the next time we went somewhere.Being the family guinea pig, I took Amtrak’s Empire Builder home from Portland after driving with my youngest (in his rig) to drop him off at college.Returning on Amtrak wasn’t just the slow, cheap choice – it was the obvious one: Board at 5:00 pm in Portland, avoid a 12 hour drive after three long days, spend less on train fare than on gas and do all of that without any effort on my part (ie: get on the train and ride home vs. flog my rig all the way home, get tired, get a room and end up using up a decent chunk of two days traveling.I wasn’t too worried about being on time to the minute. I was on a train *because* my schedule was a little flexible. I’d heard a fair share of horror stories about late trains from folks in the Midwest and East, so I wasn’t exactly ready for the seriously-on-time that I experienced.The Amtrak ExperienceWhat I was really interested in was comparing the customer / passenger experience between Amtrak and the last few airline trips I’ve taken.On an airplane, you get “beat up”, annoyed, hot, cramped, belittled and so on. By the time you get in your seat, you’ll often find passengers in a detached, staring-at-nothing, “how many minutes till it ends” state of mind.It’s not that the people are bad, I think a lot of it is the series of annoyances and inconveniences that people are submitted to prior to takeoff.On the train, it’s like another planet. It’s like a big traveling party and a sleepover rolled into one – and the seats are bigger. The big traveling party is in the observation car, where you might see people playing Uno, Scrabble, Texas Hold-Em, or just talking with a crowd of people they just met. The dining car is like a cafe with too few seats, so you sit where the empty chairs are – even if someone’s in mid-meal – and it’s ok.The cattle car isn’t the cattle carIf you didn’t know better, you’d think someone hired the “Evil Captain Kirk” version of Temple Grandin to design the process of getting people from their cars, through ticketing, past security and onto a plane.It’s not the speed, it’s the how and the what.On Amtrak, it’s given that everything (and I mean *everything*) is slower – yet on time, in my limited experience.The experience is far less tense and there is none of the “We just need to get through it, so you’re just gonna take it” that you get when flying. My impression is that you’re far less likely to run into the Evil Kirk.Why?Sure, there are some folks in the airline business who are pleasant, friendly and happy to help. On Amtrak, almost everyone seems that way.Both groups are obviously under pressure to produce. Neither is raking in the profits. Neither has excuses. They just do what they do.The process is what makes the difference between the experience found by your customers vs. your competitors’.Take nothing for granted about your processes.Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com. Email Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.
ABC/Nicole Wilder(LOS ANGELES) — It goes to show that parents, no matter how wealthy they are, are struggling to keep their kids entertained as households practice social distancing and self-quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kim Kardashian, who is a mother of four, turned to Twitter on Wednesday for suggestions on how to make the quarantine period easier for her little ones.“What is everyone doing to keep your kids entertained???,” the reality star tweeted. “As a family we are social distancing but need some fun ideas of what to do! Any suggestions would help!”Unfortunately for the 39-year-old, advice was scarce as most of the replies referenced her ongoing feud with Taylor Swift.One of the top suggestions, with over 6,000 likes, was a snarky “we are listening to taylor swift.” Others recommended the Kardashian-West clan enjoy a relaxing movie, particularly Swift’s documentary Miss Americana on Netflix.Of course, others encouraged Kim to have her kids “help you, write an apology to Taylor.” The fans are referencing the recent leak of the complete infamous phone call between Kim’s husband Kanye West and Taylor, where he discussed his upcoming track “Famous.” The leaked audio revealed West never told Taylor he planned on calling her a “b****” in the song, something Taylor claimed since initial portions of the call, which she claimed were “edited,” were posted online. The leak sparked the trending hashtags #KanyeWestIsOverParty and #TaylorToldTheTruth on Twitter.Drama aside, fans of Kardashian did eventually come forward with helpful advice, from recommending the family buy a Nintendo Switch and play the new Animal Crossing game to having each child tell a story campfire style.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.