11 September 2010

Is Your Brand Better or Worse Off in a Social World?

Project Wander had a very interesting piece on a Twitter driven attack on Flight Centre.

Flight Centre fends off social media attacks

What is interesting is that there was little substance to the attack except for the use of an image of a tourist on an elephant. In that case then the same folks are likely to go after Meghan McCain (yes John’s daughter) for her book Dirty Sexy Politics

As Graham points out the Flight Centre social media team were on the case very quickly to thwart the attack.

So how do companies in general feel about the value or threat to their brands in a Social World? A good piece in eMarketer this week covered the issue nicely.

So be careful out there. The emergence of non-brands and the social based brands can have a profound effect on traditional and product based brands.

Yes you have been warned – you both need to think AND act on this one.


This week’s …. A Few Thoughts - Voyeurism

This week the professor has started a round of rather long and extensive road trips that is going to keep me busy from now till Turkey Day (That’s Thanksgiving to those who are not familiar with American Pagan customs.) My thoughts have been turning to the amount of distraction. I am not sure if its just me but I am having a hard time engaging after the summer. Even though I have been back at full time work since the end of July – my work schedule generally becomes gets pretty busy come September rolls around. This year is no exception.

What seems to catch my eye is that I am eye distracted. I am not sure if I what is going on but I find my eyes wandering to everywhere except where they need to be.

I call this problem - Voyeurism – staring at the screen and all its distractions. So I have been just examining screens and come to the conclusion the efforts to monetize every inch of screen real estate is causing me ADD. I can imagine that it could be worse for other regular folks…

What do you think?

Photo Courtesy of Mr Pant

10 September 2010

Boeing Goes Safe, Airbus goes...? Let's Ask Pratt And Whitney

Pratt & Whitney (US) President David Hess says Airbus and Boeing could make different decisions on whether or not to re-engine A320 and B737 respectively. This comes today when news reports are surfacing that Boeing is mulling 737NG+ instead of a 737RE. And this cuts to the heart of the difference between the aircraft designs. The 737 struggled to get the wide fans onboard. The newer A320 design already came with the wider chord engines as a baseline. So now for Boeing to RE with say one of P&Ws Power products then we are looking at a significant investment for the Chicago based planemaker.

So it just looks like the A320 which has been outselling its rival in recent years has greater legs.

I really feel that there is a great opportunity that Boeing has to drive a next gen solution rather than an upgrade.

Will they do it?

Nahhhhhhhhh they don't listen to me. So we are condemned to a lesser solution for another 10 years.


08 September 2010

Google Launches Instant To Combat Charge Of Being Anti Green

The whisper campagn against Google's green credentials started a few years ago when a researcher doing his thesis stumbled on the idea of trying to figure out how much carbon is used in a Google search.

The Times of London and many other journals picked up the story and it went "viral" round the web last year. So there were some great headlines such as this one:

"Physicist Alex Wissner-Gross says that performing two Google searches uses up as much energy as boiling the kettle for a cup of tea"

However the Times was forced to post a correction on the exact nature of this story.

However ever since I read the story - it has fascinated me as to perhaps asking this fundamental question.

Is the use of the web actually good for the planet?

So with today's launch of Google Instant - perhaps we now know that Google wants to provide more information faster and its really quite impressive. We now get our crap results and junk faster.

Too bad the crap is still crap.

If only they would do something about the quality... then it would be a much more interesting debate.


Farewell DC9s (at least the series 30)

So off they go into that great boneyard in the sky.

Delta is retiring its last DC9-30 series. The same size as the famous Flying Bunny.

Personally I hated them as being small and cramped... of course that was till I started flying on RJs....

Cheers old timer

"Dr Walsh? - Some Sick Patients to See You"

"Dr Walsh you have a Mr Gil Phaire, a Ms Mexi Cana and a rather regal looking Indian gentleman called Mr isher.

Which one would you like to see first?"

.... "Oh sorry - I didnt realize you were still on the phone... I will have them stand in the corner and wait - but its getting crowded in here. There is a very tall Swedish gentleman also outside - he says he desperately needs to talk to you first. I have to say he looks very thin

Cherio.... "

07 September 2010

Hello! BA Here: We Want to Buy You...

"We don't have any money but we think you look attractive so lower your drawers and let us take you because we want to be the world's biggest airline and you should be pleased to become part of BA.




(Dial tone - fade to black....)

A Plea Deal for Bad Hair Day FA Slater? - Hell No Throw The Book At Him

OK so I am not normally motivated to write such things. But I read today that Steve Chute/Shoot Slater the jetBlue Flight Attendant who decided to have a bad hair day and risk life and limb of his co-workers is discussing a plea deal.

Hell NO - He Needs to have the book thrown at him.

Quote, Daniel Horwitz, Slater's attorney said "Mr. Slater wants to get on with his life, and that's why he resigned from his job voluntarily."

Damn it he committed multiple crimes and endangered life and he gets a plea deal?

What does that say about anyone else who has the same urge.

Bad - VERY bad

Direct or Not?

A really nice editorial on Travel Weekly this week from contributing editor Richard Turen. Well worth a read.

Its good to remember why some people do things.In the direct and fees battle its always good to remember that there are some people who really do good - for good's sake.

And FYI the company he pointed out but didn't identify was Best Western - their contractor was Unicor.

Long may that be the case.


Image courtesy of JELF.

06 September 2010

Are You REALLY Mad About Airline Fees?

I like to think I am a balanced person. And here is a chance (on Labour Day when I am working) for me to show you how balanced I can be.

A new coalition of those who despise Airline Fees has a new website out. And they having a "Mad As Hell Day" September 23rd.

So far they are being less than subtle about it. Drafting dubious questionnaires in support of their position. However it is their right to do it and I am going to publicize their petition.

I would draw your attention to their privacy policy...

Privacy Policy

"Any information you provide on this page will be used to register your concerns regarding hidden airline fees with elected officials and government agencies. We will never use your e-mail address to send you advertisements or other marketing mails, nor will we sell your e-mail to any outside organizations. We may, at times, use your e-mail to deliver information to you on the issue of hidden fees or on other timely policy matters of interest to travelers. If you do not wish to receive those occasional e-mails, you may unsubscribe at any time via a link on the mail. If you submit a hidden fee story, we will not use your full name or contact information in connection with that story unless you authorize us to do so. We may, however, use any stories submitted on this site on an anonymous (first name and location only) basis to promote this issue in the media, on the web site, in advertisements or through governmental submissions."

Actually this is not correct and they are telling a rather large fib. Because there is no place to register my individual concerns about the issue. Further I am still not happy about the very biased questionnaire that the same team has put up. I wrote about this a few weeks ago. Have a look at my post on the subject.

While I support the right of the individual to protest - they should do it fairly.

I don't actually like airline fees. There I said it... however I firmly believe that Airline Ancillary Service Fees are the appropriate way to allow address the way an airline can offer me a personalized product. I feel empowered by the way its covered and I can now decide what I want and wish to pay for ... AND those I don't want.

So what do you think? If you want to go and register your opinion you can do so directly. The formal rule making proposal document can be downloaded from the DoT here.

For those of you from Georgia (the State not the Country) who farm peanuts - you might want to pay close attention to page 2 where the following statement is made:

In addition, the Department is considering several
measures, including banning the serving of peanuts on commercial airlines, to provide greater
access to air travel for the significant number of individuals with peanut allergies.

If you have a specific complaint then file it appropriately directly here.

Just tell them the Professor Sabena sent you.


With acknowledgement to MGM for the image of the cast of one of the best movies ever made.

Amadeus Retreating From Competing With Its Customers - Bye Bye Opodo?

Hot on the heels of a story I did last month on Sabre pulling out of non-core businesses and ending the practice of competing with its customers now comes word that Amadeus is doing something akin.

So either Amadeus is finally giving up on its poor orphan child that it inherited from its some times owners (big EU airlines) or its decided that Opodo needs a new home. At the least Amadeus might start to look more attractive to the big OTAs. It has recently beefed up its search offerings (Masterpricer et al).

Reports have been circulating for a few weeks of a "major OTA" on the block. Actually Opodo doesn't quite fit those shoes. Since the story is now out - I can comment on it.

Opodo has never quite lived up to its hype. It's books were made to look pretty good (ie that they were not losing money) in recent years - but it is not a business that will set the world on fire. Rather like its counterpart in Asia - Zuji that is a little more successful comparatively speaking.

The US based similar business - Orbitz - burst on the scene and became a monster success initially. It was hived off by the airlines (who started it under the code name of T2 after a popular Consulting firm of a similar name - or a movie that came out around that time with a then future Governor as its lead actor). It landed in the Blackstone stable of businesses. It seems to be getting a little more healthy under new CEO (and ex-Expedia man) Barney Harford.

Now that Amadeus has to submit to the discipline of the markets - it is taking a hard look at its stable of disparate businesses and clearly deciding that some of them belong elsewhere.

So probably time to put this dog out the door. Will Travelport now be looking to do the same on their side and dump their holding in Orbitz and some other products/services.

Hey this new found religion might actually be good for the market.


Death By Personalization and Bad Cookies

For some unknown reason - I am now trapped in Spokane.

I have not been to GEG in many years - it is hope to Gonzaga University and is probably a nice place (except in the peak of winter).

But now I have been trying to test some new websites and many of them think I am in Spokane.

So to everyone who thinks I am in Spokane... I am not.

Thanks - you are now free to go about your business

Chill Out Everyone on Ryanair's FA/Pilot Idea...

OK so read on...

There is a huge hue and cry over the proposal from Mr O'Leary on replacing the second pilot in a 737.

So let's analyze the issue and be sure we all understand it.

Let's deal with the current regulations. Cockpit distraction is a problem. So there is indeed a regulation that covers this. In 1981 the FAA enacted FAR 121.542 and FAR 135.100 to help curb the number of accidents related to cockpit distraction or interference. Commonly known as the "sterile cockpit rule," these regulations specifically prohibit crew member performance of non-essential duties or activities while the aircraft is involved in taxi, takeoff, landing, and all other flight operations conducted below 10,000 feet MSL, except cruise flight. NASA has some interesting details on this.

The issue of cockpit distraction achieved a lot of attention after the two Northwest Pilots overflew their destination which chatting about non-flying issues. In the past few years other examples of distraction of a different sort has emerged with a video of 2 pilots on board a French Airliner interacting with a Stewardess. If you want to find it - go look at the Sun UK news paper.

The Ryanair's CEO perspective is that on short flights the need for the second pilot is not great and during the critical moments when a second pilot is required a flight attendant can perform that function.

In all hoopla people have not dealt with the issue which is that there is nothing to prevent this. IF.... the Flight Attendant is a fully qualified person to engage in cockpit activity and then is able to fulfill other functions - why not?

Of course it is a little silly as which pilot qualified and current rated person would ever want to be hired as a FA? However stranger things have happened, Just this past June such an incident happened when a pilot on board an AA flight became incapacitated. Just by chance a pilot trained (but not current) Flight Attendant was among the crew. 61 year old Patti De Luna assisted in the process of landing an AA 767 in Chicago O'Hare - not one of the easiest airports in the world.

The simplest an easiest way to view it - is that as long as safety is not compromised then there should be no commercial reason as to why this could not be the case.

But since that is neither practical nor commercially viable - the idea is not going anywhere. So people - just chill out!


05 September 2010

A Few Moments....The Worst Way To Fly?

I am going to start an occasional series on the Professor's blog. It will be entitled a Few Moments....

I will write about a number of things - mostly in a moment of whimsy.

I hope you will enjoy them. Feel free to contribute ideas for me to write on. Today's first one is about airline safety. As regular readers note I fly a lot. So this is a matter very close and dear to me.

According to data presented the worst case is if you fly on Aeroflot in August between the USA and Russia on a DC9. Since there has never been such a flight this makes the chances pretty remote. But what about survivability.

I love information. Data is also up there. I love looking for themes and trends in data sets.

I have been reading through some of the work of David McCandless.

So here is an interesting view of where the safest place is to sit on a plane based on survivor statistics.

Personally I always chose somewhere near the wingbox and hopefully where the fuselage is strongest. But if your time is up - its up!

I love this stuff....


Here is the license terms location for the display of this image.

JetBlue to Slater - Later Dude....

Jetblue has confirmed that "Chute/Shoot" Slater is no longer employed with the airline. The "seperation" was completed last week, he had been taken off flying duty immediately after the incident and placed on what the Brits call "Gardening Leave".

Slater has pleaded not guilty to charges the charges filed so far of reckless endangerment and criminal mischief -- both felonies -- and criminal trespass. If convicted, he could face a maximum of seven years in prison. Slater has a court appearance scheduled for Tuesday.

He could still be charged with various offences under the jurisdiction of Homeland Security.

Search: Garbage In = Garbage Out Squared.

Do you ever wonder if the results you get from a Google Search or good or bad? I am probably very frustrated as a user and no different from others in that the way I get my results makes me have to work very hard to get to that nugget of data I am searching.

Anti "Gaming" the system for some is considered sport and a natural human behaviour, except it becomes necessary to do it to avoid getting junk results - or at the very least reducing the junk results to a manageable number. I long ago gave up trying to get great results. All of which takes up some of the most precious commodity I have available to me - namely time.

Since Google (and indeed others) who are engaged in search result delivery don't hold themselves up to a standard of providing the best possible results, we get what we pay for. IE we don't pay for it so we get garbage.

Google's results as well as the others - appear to be "good enough". For the billions of users.

However I come from a background of market research where you had to go and do a LOT of researching to get the right nugget of information. IE I am classically trained in research. This helps me get better results. What concerns me is that the newer users on the web have no such background. Probably can't use a classical reference book. Have no idea how to use a library etc etc.

And this is my point. Garbage in Garbage Squared out. Lord Help us if we have to use such a tool base for complex stuff like lowest fares.


So How Do You Feel About Google Verizon Proposal?

I posted the poll a few weeks ago and the results were as expected given my audience.

Most people 83% who responded to the poll said they were against the Google Verizon, only a small group said they had no clue…

People are clearly pretty upset about it. As no one voted for either "Benign" or "Haven't got a clue", as options.