07 July 2007

UI/UE debate on WIWIH

Max Starkov and co are running a Hospitality website called WIWIH. http://www.wiwih.com/

Fairly typical of different hotel discussion groups. However one debate caught my eye - UI.

The topic is: WIWIH Poll - Do you think that One-Screen/Flash booking engines (e.g. iStay-iHotelier) are better than the traditional step-by-step booking engines (e.g. Expedia's, Marriott's, SynXis')? I have a passionate belief that the end of the life cycle of the current explicit User Experience is in sight. Whether of course it is adopted remains to be seen. Sadly the whole advent of Mashups and Web2.0 technologies (if you can call them that) has actually done a dis-service to the market by prolonging the lifespan of the current metaphors. IE you can get away with continuing with the same old clunky back ends because there is a few bolt on extras and some nice lipstick for the old pigs. Check out the debate. (Sorry you have to sign up)


I do hope that people are listening/reading - because this is something that is the pachyderm on the table. We do need new engines and the current UI/UE metaphor is going to go away. Of course I don’t have to pay for this - but doesn’t mean I am not going to push for it.



02 July 2007

Tear Down the Wall: IATA Block Exemption is cancelled

The EC in its infinite wisdom has chosen not to renew the Block Exemption it gave last year to the IATA Passenger Tariff Conference.

For once this is a good thing as it slowly breaks down the barriers to normal behavior by the airlines. For many years the IATA carriers (now numbering approx 250) have benefitted from operating under supra national rules. In the years before GATT and with certain strange legal mechanisms that actively worked against global trade this was understandable. With GATT and better legal frameworks for international trade, these protections are not nearly as relevant. Perhaps the biggest most telling argument is that there is now a significantly larger non-IATA component to air travel - at least regionally within each Traffic Conference. The second component of this is the alliances which means a single ticket and carrier listing even if the metal is from another airline. According to the EC now less than 5% of travel within EU (defined as EC to non-EC countries) is interlined. This therefore negates the need for the exemption.

We are encouraged by this move to make the airline world more competitive. Perhaps now IATA can go back to being an association of talkers.

01 July 2007

Man of the (half) Year 2007

Now we have 6 months under our belts - we would like to nominate the person who we believe exemplifies the best there is in the Aviation, Travel and Tourism sectors. Our nominee from a large field of possible candidates rose head and shoulders above everyone.

Gerald Grinstein deserves the title.

Successfully piloting Delta into, through and now out of Chapter 11 he managed to turn the oil tanker around without creating too much disturbance and disruption amongst the key stakeholders - Customers, Staff and the financial community.

Specifically he tried much harder than his counterparts at UAL and NWA to preserve the base before finally stepping into Chapter 11 when there was no real option but to do it. He is to be commended for trying not to destroy too much of the shareholders equity.

He managed to fend off the unwitting advances of AWA/US Airways which despite looking good on paper would have been a complete disaster. At the same time he also managed to hold off TPG's advances.

While in Chapter 11 his team reformed the airline from the inside out. Not only shedding costs but also changing business practices and processes for better customer experience at a lower cost. While the pillow removal may have galvanized a lot of attention underneath DL really did change the way it did business and has emerged much more competitive.

Finally from a personal integrity point of view while he fellow CEOs were gouging themselves in stock and cash incentives (for doing their job) Jerry took home a modest $300K for his efforts.

Time will be the ultimate judge of his legacy at Delta. As the article in the WSJ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118307487060552233-search.html?KEYWORDS=United+Airlines+UAL&COLLECTION=wsjie/6month on UAL's progress shows that it can stall pretty quickly DL has a long road ahead. We believe that UAL and NWA remain pretty sick and have many issues to contend with. DL itself has some significant customer service issues (as my forced overnight in the ATL airport last week attests). Lets hope they keep getting it right.

His long service at both Western and Delta should be recognized. We believe he is a solid example to which many of us should aspire.

To Jerry - we salute you