22 March 2007

New Ryanair deal with Expedia

A bloody nose for Travelport/Gullivers/Octupus Travel

A good deal probably for Expedia and another GREAT deal for Ryanair

For the past 2 weeks the website "Ryanairhotels.com" has been displaying random corporate information. Today its very different...

Yes folks Octopus is out and Expedia WWTE is in. I would definitely say its a coup.

Now can the Bellevue boys deliver? That is to be seen



Troogle... 2nd Opinion

Troogle... 2nd Opinion
I want to reiterate that I do not believe that Troogle is real – in the near term. However lets just continue the speculation of “How” they could do it.

For sometime now the battle in conventional space for improving the seller and the buyer experience has been – well frankly definitely a 1.0 product. However recently as saturation and maturation of the market as progressed – we see new capabilities emerge. I am a huge fan of the Google Checkout product/service. Google has now added better integration on the conventional retail side so that Google Base, Comparison shopping tools and overall integration makes the search function more valuable and the experience better for the consumer. Foogle in its current implementation is clearly demonstrating this in certain product categories as it continues to battle head to head with eBay and Amazon for the hearts and minds of the shoppers.

Clearly it is not a leap to move from there to “Troogle” or Froogle for Travel.

So I would not be jumping too quickly to follow the current hysteria around Troogle, but clearly the capabilities are there.

On a related note, as an ex-Microsoftie (yes the electrodes are now almost all out) you have to wonder about Google’s “integration”. If you think about it. Which is more of a monopoly; Microsoft and a bundled browser or Google Base search and an integrated financial fulfillment system. Now is the time to consider this impact. Can anyone say DoJ Investigation???



21 March 2007

Troogle- will Google be stupid and arrogant?

There are all these nasty vicious rumours floating around that Google is getting into the travel business.


As good Google watchers know the formula is pretty simple. Offer consumer tools for free in the category then subsume the supply chain in that category. IE Troogle would be on point for Google. BUT consider this…

I have no current insider knowledge on the subject . However I do consider Google to have been pretty smart in Travel so far. They make BOATLOADS of money. An insider told me about a year ago how much and it is mind boggling. Profit margins that are unheard of and gross numbers which are simply staggering. In fact I nominated Jane Butler (head of Google Travel) as Industry person of the year. She certainly wields a hefty amount of influence.

Google is making fine amounts of money already and really doesn’t need to do this at least not yet.

So speculation time… what if they did create a Travel Search tool? Frankly we all know that Travel Product/Content/Technology all share one common attribute – they are very messy and defy simplification. This creates a challenge for Google should it want to. More importantly going into business against your customers will galvanize the entire industry to consider ways other than Google’s tool. We are on a collision course with a trend. Just taking the escalating price of key words (aka scarce internet real estate) this has already priced itself out of the reach of the common players and even the big spenders have a hard time with it. The consumer is also getting jaded with the practice of paid search. I see studies that show the effectiveness of paid keywords is diminishing.

Conclusion. I don’t think they are going to do it… not just yet. The technology is not there and the cost of delivery would be high to do it properly including the need for PEOPLE!!!! But should they do it… I would quietly dump any involvement in Meta Searches and the OTAs. Supply chain owners however would become very valuable. I just dont think Google is that stupid to do it now.


Another BA post... this time a nice one - BA's new Club Class Seat

Well Done BA – a much better product. You are now officially… still not quite there... but it’s a very good effort. This impression is based on a window 747 upper deck seat DXB-LHR BA 106 19 March.

What’s new and what’s good?

The seat itself is much better. Same width(who said it was wider?) it looks like the extra padding really does make it feel better. No more boarding school back when you reach your destination. The controls are better and simpler. The mechanism for reclining seems also to be a lot smoother and more robust. I suspect that this one will last longer too. The new head firmer thingie seems to be pretty useless. The armrests rise and fall well and are pretty good design. I am not sure how robust they are. Perhaps the nice people from IKEA should send their test engineers on the job.

The access is much better but still uses the head to toe rather than the herringbone pattern offered by other airlines. And while it’s a bit better for ingress egress it’s still a tussle.

The bins are still there on the upper deck (thank god BA didn’t remove them). Although I still have to wonder what the zipper bag lining every now and then is for.

The electric powered divider is pretty darn good. Gone is that crappy fan affair.

110 Volt power US and EU – very good and in a reasonable place as well.

AND THE STUPID GLASS tablette is gone – YEAH!!!!

What’s not so good….

A much better footrest. But WHY oh WHY does it have to be not a seat? Other airlines have figured this out. So now we have an even bigger boat anchor than the other one. On my particular seat the mechanism was not working fully and took 3 crew members (oh yes then my superior approach!!!) to resolve it. I had accidently taken the wrong seat. The guy who I usurped got really mad and wanted his seat back when he couldn’t figure it out. We nearly had an international incident. I believe this is going to cause problems later and not just because the crew was unfamiliar with it.

I actually like the LH and QF seat massagers. Well we cant have everything.

IFE system – much better. VOD works a heck of a lot better but the UI/UE engineering is still somewhat quirky and stupid. For example you cannot navigate backwards through the list. You have to go back to the beginning each time you cancel the selected choice. Noise cancelling phones are good. Still it’s not quite state of the art. Cathay’s new system (shhhhh) is way better. QF and SQ’s systems also much better. I believe a software upgrade will be in order before the roll out goes much further. They didn’t change the design of the control keypad. I am surprised at this. Simple changes would have been smart. The light switch didn’t do anything on mine. Why do they persist with a 2 prong headset jack is one of life’s mysteries.

Subtle lights are a very good implementation. I am quite impressed with that part. BUT I would like to have one big light. This is going to annoy people who like to work during the night in their seats.

The new table – great design poor execution. Like almost every other folding table it just won’t go 180 degrees. This is also an area where BA’s engineers and the seat designer should spend some time.

The hard sidewinders protecting your head could do with padding. It’s just not very nice in the full upright position.

Overall impression.

A simple and good design but not category leading. SQ and EK’s new J class seats are easily better in almost every category. (just make sure you don’t fly EK’s old and stupid Z configured seat still extant on the A340-500s. The new lie flat on the 777s is way better. (Worth going via Hamburg rather than the nonstops at this point). VS of course is still the all time champ if you count it as a J seat rather than F/P. The seat and facilities put BA behind the leaders and I suspect will continue not to be the best across the board. In the current generation BA is ahead of the European carriers (like LH and AF) but behind the class leaders – SQ, EK and VS – well ahead of the current Americans. It will be interesting to see how it stacks up against the New DL seat.

I rate this a B+

I do hope BA's plan B is not this one... or how to blame your customer

Read on if you are a Frequent Flyer and feel like some times your airline doesn’t like to support you.

Recent press reports are hinting that if BA looses its campaign to derail the new EU Open Skies agreement then it has a nifty Plan B up its sleeve. Well this is something you might want to think about as regards BA's legendary customer service or lack thereof.

I am a BA Sliver – down from Gold (you might wonder why I even maintain any status). I fly a lot and often choose BA for schedule reasons and my family is based in the UK. Like many business folk – I have to quickly change my schedule. Paying full fare is the benefit of doing this.

Well BA now you have me… and several of my fellow travelers on the flight BA 951 March 21, 2007 MUC-LHR. There were 12 passengers in the A319 Club class section. Hardly a full load for a capacity of 24. However of the 12 passengers – 5 of us got the same speech from the flight attendant and presumably at check in when I got mine. “Due to YOUR late reservation – you are likely to be denied a meal.” OK 2 hours prior to departure maybe but not the day before… As it turns out 3 of the 5 had made changes to their reservations 24 hours prior to departure. So BA’s official definition of a “Late” reservation is now 24 hours. You might want to think then that BA doesn’t want high revenue full fare last minute flyers. I certainly do.

In my experience with BA there are a number of fundamental areas that bug me. These range from deliberate lying to bad technology to forcing its passengers through many unnecessary hoops. The awful bag situation which is nothing but laughable. But this situation of blaming your customer for your own mistake must be one of the best/worst i have ever encountered.

My flight is part of a round the world ticket I purchase on BA adding up even more to the overall revenue I have generated to BA which now much total more than high 6 figures.

BA will get a complaint letter from me. Clearly I am a second class citizen – well at least I get to share that with nearly 50% of my fellow passengers who I am sure all paid a premium price for their ticket.

So BA if this is your plan B to entice consumers not to abandon the airline when Heathrow is forced to open up under Open Skies… perhaps then I will have to chose another airline. And yes… Heathrow is the airport that best exemplifies a third world country. DE STERN was right. The UK and its institutions do adopt the attributes of a 3rd world country, but my experiences at LHR are subject for another day.