We’re looking forward to our first cruise on Celebrity next month, where we will get to enjoy 4th of July at Sea, and then head on to enjoy some good food and drinks in Mexico. I thought this a good example to share how I book and negotiate things, and where I elect to bring data into the equation. The ideas I have here are still evolving, but they are based upon my real world successes and failures.
Before jumping into how data plays its part, it is important to decide whether you are actually in a negotiation or not. My approach to this is to consider upside. If I’m checking into a hotel in a standard room, I have a lot of potential upside via upgrades, if I already have the Presidential Suite booked, less so. Knowing where I am on the scale, and how much I care about the upside, influences whether I bother to negotiate or not.
For me, negotiation in cases like this is really just going into the conversation without the entitled/quid pro quo attitude, and being a little more open minded about it all. That said, if I have found a situation that I want to leverage, either for an upgrade, or to ensure I get what I ‘deserve’ I find data very helpful.
First Rule of Data – Don’t share it unless you need to
For my upcoming cruise, I’ve got terms and conditions attached to my offer that do not include regular mLife perks. mLife perks include highlights such as ‘Free Speciality Restaurant Dinner’ (worth about $90) and some other things. I have a full list of the perks here:
The first perks that I’ll want to take advantage of is going to be the Priority Check in and Departure Lounge Access (not sure which is first out of the two). Both of these features will have gatekeepers.
Additionally, it is quite likely that the Departure Lounge doesn’t mention that I’m allowed in, and that the staff will try to roadblock that, as they have been briefed to deny entry to those who don’t have the proper boarding pass.
My first line of attack here will simply be that I’m ‘entitled’ to the lounge and will talk my way in. That is pretty high percentage in and of itself, but if it does hit a roadblock, I’d pull up Asana on my phone. It will allow me to access the list of perks plus some hyperlinks to the Celebrity website stored in one file. This ‘Project Based’ approach to the transaction allows me to store more things than relying on memory alone.
Additionally, when juggling a toddler and a bunch of luggage, there is a fair chance that I will forget about the little perks, so I tie in a reminder. Here I’m using Asana’s inbuilt project due date, set to the day of the cruise. I’m a big fan of using due dates, or location based reminders to pull up this data, and for a more important event, I might look at using IFTTT or Zapier to trigger location based alerts via SMS or other tools as extra ‘nudges’.
The data is being sent to me on the day I need it, so I can review quickly, load it into short term memory, get the benefits I want, and move on. I also included the hyperlinks to Celebrity website in the case that I really hit a wall, and I pull up the data real time for an irritating employee.
As mentioned previously, I do that last, as it is smoother and easier to just walk into the conversation preloaded with what you need, and if I find that I really can’t ‘win’ then I can rely on some supporting data.
Why not data first?
Sometimes I would lead with data. If there is little to no upside, I might just show the phone to someone right away and say get out of the way… but that creates problems:
You risk becoming a jerk, which makes you and others look and feel awkward. Once you’ve done that, you can also entrench the other party into giving you what is on that list, but not a penny more, and given reluctantly. If you’re trying to set up a great experience at check in, the last thing you want is an annoyed team that you are relying on to help get you on your way.
You risk losing double ups. Quite often, when there are expected benefits that you haven’t received yet, they do come, but perhaps a little later than the transaction itself. An example of the double up applies to the drinks perk on Celebrity.
The mLife perk is 10 drink vouchers for Platinum. If I walk into the casino and use some social skills to say hi, and to then ask about vouchers in passing, there is a chance that the host will give me them there and then. There’s also a chance that they are being delivered by another channel to my stateroom, so I get 20.
If I’m the jerk that they remember who demanded things using my phone as proof, they’re more likely to remember and to perhaps say something to me later on about this. If I’m a nice guy, there’s more chance that I’ll get double, and they’ll let it slide.
Strong Negotiation with the tough cookies
I have found that you occasionally encounter an obtuse person when trying to claim benefits or get upside. Very likely they’ve just been dealing with a jerk and don’t need another one. Here is where it is good to have calm, but solid data points where necessary. Knowing your data helps build a confident demeanor. This is why I include screenshots in Asana – it saves me having to pull up websites (which may have changed) and gives me fast and accurate refreshers. I might even check my phone without sharing the data during the conversation, because a quick glance is innocent enough, and helps refresh the memory.
Know your place at the table
The best part of the Celebrity negotiation is that I’m in the power position. They’ve already given me a Balcony cabin for basically zero cost, and they hope that I’ll be in the casino playing. If they do push back on my perks, I just walk away. I can apply that to different issues that may arise during the cruise too. If I really cannot gain access to the lounge I can (if I want) complain about that to the host, explain that it doesn’t really make me feel appreciated, and have them compensate that. It’s a very strong position to be in.
I’m truly going into this situation with a DGAF attitude, but by grabbing some data before I do I can casually negotiate, investing as much, or as little time as I feel appropriate, and I don’t need to worry about not being able to back up my claims, or more importantly, remember any of this stuff, because my brain doesn’t need to memorize the mLife:Celebrity perks list.
The key to this is that with the right attitude, you don’t get involved in petty battles, and you have a great vacation, also, you don’t need to remember everything, just set things up in advance, and access it on demand. It makes for a powerful combination of relaxation, and high percentage success for getting what you are entitled to, or sometimes more than that.