Grace Under Pressure

I arrived at the Salt Lake City Airport last week to catch my outbound flight.  As soon as I walked in, I noticed the minimal “emergency” type lighting.  Jokingly I asked a staff member, “Did someone forget to pay the electric bill?”  With a chuckle, I was told the power had been off for about a half-hour.

It’s an odd feeling to be in an airport without power.  The escalators and moving sidewalks do not work, only a few of the screens giving flight information are operating and the stores and restaurants are dark.  The generators were keeping the luggage ex-ray and metal detectors operating which allowed the airport to continue to operate.

My first stop once I clear security is always to Starbucks to get an iced tea for the trip.  I looked over and saw a line of customers in the very dark Starbucks so I joined them.  Staff told customers that due to the lack of power, they were limited to iced drinks; 3 varieties of iced teas, tea/lemonade blends and iced coffee.  They also had all the pre-made baked goods, fruit, waters and sandwiches but they could not process credit cards.

The Starbucks team were filling orders (including my Venti Black Iced Tea shaken with 2 Sweet ‘n Lows) for a continuous line of grateful customers.  People were snapping up the waters, fruit and sandwiches in anticipation of delays the power outage might cause.

Operating with a flashlight and a hand-written list of all the items prices and a small hand calculator, they continued to do business.  They kept a running list of items sold so they could later key in the data once power was restored. Pretty impressive!

It became even more impressive as I made my way out to my gate at the end of the concourse. I walked by several stores that were dark and staff members stationed out by the entrance with arms crossed sending customers away.   Really?  Was there no way to do at least SOME business?  The Starbucks was darker than any of the stores I passed yet they continued to operate and wowed customers in the process.

What about your business?  Do you have a plan in place for disruptions such as power outages?  Does your team have the tools they need even if that is a flashlight and calculator?

We “WOW” customers when we do things they do not expect and this wow factor creates tremendous loyalty.  Be sure your business is trained and prepared to demonstrate the grace under pressure of the awesome team of the Starbucks at the Salt Lake City Airport.

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2 Responses to “Grace Under Pressure”

  1. Melody Says:

    Hi Sunny! What an amazing story. Airports are licensed stores, but it’s great to see a team in green aprons delivering the Starbucks experience no matter what the circumstances, and whether licensed or not. Congrats to the Salt Lake City Airport team! It would have been far easier to give up and say, “We’ll just wait until we have some power”.


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