I did 310,000 miles last year. Hotels and airports are just a blur. People ask if I’m like George Clooney in “Up In the Air”. I tell them I trust his travel tips as much as I’d trust his medical advice.
The reality of business travel is that it’s tough — a ton of mindless details. And that’s where you need a Fancy Hands. You’ll thank me later.
So I lost my luggage on the way to an important business meeting. I sent an email to Fancy Hands and within 5 minutes, they were already on it — calling the airline and the airport, wading through the voicemail mazes, and getting everything arranged.
I’ve done other bonehead things. I left my cell phone at a restaurant that gives you 5% off your bill if you hand it to them (smart move, I think, to keep the place quiet). But I forgot to ask for it back, nor did they remember. I had one of our guys call and he said it wasn’t there. But Fancy Hands did — calling repeatedly to get the manager and got it squared away.
I had a nightmare experience at a hotel (if you travel enough, you know what I’m talking about). Fancy Hands made a series of phone calls and took care of every detail. I even got a night comped for it.
I have a bunch of meetings in New York to set up. I give Fancy Hands a list of them and they not only schedule it, but put it in my calendar, making sure to account for the right time zones. And when I meet the clients, they say, “Your assistant called to reconfirm the meeting.”
The online meetings they go into our WebEx and schedule all the details. They call the client to let them know if I’m running late.
I smile at these things.
It’s $50 for 15 requests a month. I’m on the premier plan of 50 requests for $150 a month. Either way, just one or two saves pays for itself.
In the last 3 months, they’ve made 168 phone calls on my behalf, logging 536 minutes. That’s a couple days back of my life so I can do laundry and scout out the best wings in each city.
No, wait — they have arranged for my laundry to be done on the road and made recommendations for the best wings, too. It’s all done for me.
We do have a couple virtual assistants. For those folks who don’t know, you can hire staff from the Philippines for a buck or two an hour to do similar sorts of things. However, the Fancy Hands folks are in the US, well-educated, witty (you’ll see what I mean later and how important that is in problem solving skills), and super reliable.
So you could “save” a few dollars with a part-time VA (virtual assistant), but in the end, you’ll regret the headache of having to train them to know that, for example, there are 3 major airports in the San Francisco bay area — and one might have the direct flight you’re looking for. Their professionalism and courtesy is the same you’d expect from an executive assistant to someone in a publicly traded company.
In other words, no need to “manage” them.
I’m wondering how Ted Roden, the founder, does it. Maybe he’s secretly doing all this himself, enslaved an army of extra-terrestrials that work via a time-warp portal, or found a way to recruit intelligent, cheerful housemoms. I’m guessing it’s the latter, though I have seen one guy respond. Ted has replied a couple times to my messages — so we know he’s watching. Maybe he’ll leave a comment here!
I’m not going to repeat everything on their website — the features of their system, clever examples of how FH can give you time back, or how successful their company is by delivering service so WOW that I have to write about it here. But others gladly write about them, too.
- You can kick back and relax — they can handle any task that doesn’t require physically being there. For example, they posted an ad to Craigslist to help me find a maid. Then they followed up on the references to make sure they were legit.
- It pays for itself in one use. Just one emergency, one business trip saved, or an embarrassing moment avoided.
- They integrate with basecamp. I still prefer just sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, which automatically recognizes me.
- They are super reliable. Not sure how their internals work in assigning tasks to agents, but they normally reply within 30 minutes. Unlike contractors, they won’t flake out on you.
- They are super clever and cheerful. Once they conference called me in with Hotwire to get a booking changed. I was surprised and delighted. I heard they wrote a poem for someone else, bringing that person to tears (in a good way). I wonder if there’s a way to send a gift to the assistant that does the most amazing work.
- They can’t handle your credit card info. But that doesn’t mean they can’t book flights, hotels, etc. You just give them your logins. They can’t handle Verizon, since Verizon won’t talk to anyone except who is on the account.
- You can’t specify which assistant you want. At first, I thought this would be a big deal, since learning the nuances of travel planning isn’t easy. But their agents are surprisingly competent. Only once or twice did they not find the best fare– and international bookings are MUCH harder, as you know.
- There’s no unlimited plan anymore. I upgraded to the 50 request per month plan and am probably using 15 a month. I have the 50 just in case, I guess.
- The tasks are supposed to take no more than 15 minutes each. Very reasonable limit, of course. Once I asked FH to make a list of the top 20 publicly traded companies in Louisville, Kentucky with their websites and Facebook pages. Great work! Then I decided to press my luck and ask them to assemble a list of every beer, liquor, and alcoholic beverage on the planet. They declined that, of course, but suggested we break it into multiple tasks. Good idea!
Are you still reading this? Have you not signed up yet? Click here to sign up and I’ll get $5 off my next bill. But that’s not why I took the time to write this. I’m in love with your service, Ted!
Dear reader, tell me what you think or how it’s working for you in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you think.