Miami nice: A salute to Juan

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

I may just have been served by one of the nicest sales people I have ever encountered in a duty free store.

The encounter happened at Miami International Airport Concourse B, just beforeI took a Virgin Atlantic Airways flight to London Heathrow.

As always I decided to peruse the duty free shops, all run here by Duty Free Americas. At the airside store near check-in, I bought a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, my eye having been caught by the beekeeper display pictured below (I could describe how I made a beeline for the promotion; how it was creating a buzz; how the shop was a hive of activity; how travellers were swarming into the store; how I combed the store for bargains; how I knew I wouldn’t be stung in a duty free shop; how the sales woman said ‘How can I help honey?’; how I bumbled trying to find the right change; and how I know Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey is full of Vitamin Bee – but readers of this Blog will know I do not indulge in bad puns).

I then took a look around the bigger, post-security store, where I decided to do some serious Christmas shopping. As soon as I entered the shop, a shop assistant (whose name badge said Juan Cedeno) approached me and asked me with a wide smile if there was something in particular I was looking for. Not a token “Can I help?” but a warm and genuine indication of interest.

I said I wanted a good bottle of US wine. First, respecting the LAGs restrictions, he rightly confirmed that London was my final port of call. He then showed me to a (small) selection of American wines, suggesting a nice 2009 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon (a good recommendation, I know the winery well).

I duly made the purchase but as I did, some other items caught my eye. I won’t reveal the details (it’s my Christmas list after all). Juan noticed me looking at one of the items, which was under lock and key.

“Let me show you,” he said, quick as a flash. “It’s a very nice item.”

Indeed it was. And indeed within moments Juan was duly gift wrapping it with infinite care. And then another. I must have just raised Duty Free Americas average transaction value significantly but, as with all good shopping experiences, I felt better for having done so.

Juan didn’t stop at the ‘sell’. He kept chatting, reassuring me that gate delivery is fail-safe (with my track record of losing around 14 phones, 4 blackberries and 6 cameras over the past decade I have earned the right to be nervous) and that my goods would indeed fly with me to London.

I never took his picture. But I hope Duty Free Americas does. For such individuals, out on what we call ‘The Front Line’ (our weekly series featuring travel retail sales staff around the world), make such a difference to the success and reputation of our industry. Juan was clearly well-trained, he knew his product, he knew the regulations, but most of all he knew how to treat people. And in retail that is a trait that matters more than any other.

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