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Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

aruba innovation2Last month my girlfriend and I were in Aruba. 5 days of bliss at the Marriott there. We were scheduled to fly home on a Friday. But when we woke up Thursday morning, we realized we were not ready to leave. We loved the island and wanted more!

Fortunately we didn’t have plans for the weekend and our airline tickets were flexible and could be changed.

It was time to extend our stay in Aruba.

First I checked flights. Wow, the non-stop JetBlue flight (the only direct flight) was twice the original price I paid. I guess that’s the downside of last minute changes. But at least there were seats.

I then hopped onto the Marriott website to check availability for the weekend. Nada.

I then scoured the online travel agencies like Expedia and Travelocity to see if by some slim chance they had inventory reserved. Although several of the sites “teased” me saying they had availability, when I went to confirm the reservation, I was told there were not rooms.

At that point we resigned ourselves to flying home on Friday. We were bummed.

And then I realized I was not taking my own medicine.

One of my important innovation messages is that the questions we ask (consciously or subconsciously) determine the answers we receive. If I changed my question, I might get a different solution.

My implied question: “How can we extend our stay at the Marriott for the weekend, for a reasonable cost, flying back on a direct flight?”

We could have looked for a room in a different hotel, but for us that was a deal breaker. We really liked the Marriott.

I then realized that when searching for rooms, I put in a date range checking in on Friday and checking out Sunday (the weekend). But what if I looked for room availability for Friday night only? Even one extra day would be great. Voila! There were rooms for Friday night, just not Saturday night.

I then realized that for one extra night, the changes in airfare would be WAY too expensive (almost $1000 more for two tickets). But did we really need a non-stop flight? No. I looked and found a United flight that had a short connection for about the same price we originally paid. I cancelled the JetBlue flight (no penalty) and rebooked us on United.

Changing the questions changed the outcome. The new question I asked: “How can we extend our stay at the Marriott for the weekend, for a reasonable cost, flying back on a direct flight?”

We enjoyed an extra day in paradise. We didn’t change hotels. In fact we didn’t change rooms. We were upgraded to first class on United (bonus!). And the total cost worked out to be about the same. All because we changed the question.

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