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We printed maps to our hotel and hit the road, bound for a family vacation in Washington, DC. We hadn’t planned where to go or what to see, we just figured we’d figure it out when we got there. Frustrated with our lack of preparation, our 13-year old daughter took charge. She found restaurants and restrooms and GPS apps on our cell phones we didn’t know existed. She picked up travel brochures and talked to the front desk clerk. She determined where we should go first based on their closing times and locations, and she decided which day we should do the monuments versus the museums based on the weather forecast.

Not surprising, this is the same child who would ask from her car seat, “Where are you taking me?”

Traveling unfamiliar territory can be a white-knuckle ride. Ms. Jones has the same question when she shops in your store. Sometimes she comes in sure of her destination, with a map in her hand. Other times, she has a vague idea of where she’d like to go but has no idea how to get there.

Are you her GPS? The first thing the GPS has to know is, “Where do you want to go?” What kinds of questions can you ask to determine Ms. Jones’ final destination? Does she want the scenic route, the pedestrian route or public transportation? Do you give turn-by-turn instructions, always telling her what’s going to happen next?

Our daughter has also planned trips to Gatlinburg, Florida and Disneyland. Generally, by the second day of a vacation she’s got an itinerary posted. We don’t leave home without her!

Are you an indispensable tour guide for Ms. Jones?

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