02 October 2010

Would the Real Low Cost Carrier Please Stand Up

The model for LCC airlines has changed over the past few years. At last week's World Low Cost Airline Congress, that question kept popping up.

Ralf Anker of Anna.Aero does a good job of keeping things in perspective. I really like the website and recommend people who are interested in the model to read it on a regular basis.

He gave a spirited presentation last week on the subject comparing the top real LCCs. The interesting thing is that he has so far not taken into consideration the GCC carriers such as Fly Dubai. Nor does he rate Vueling as a LCC - which is understandable as they have become more like a full service airline.

The emergence also of long haul airlines is beginning to show. Feel Air CEO Kai Holmberg was on one of the panels.

Clearly across the board the adoption of some of the successful LCC characteristics are paying off. You see the unbundling of the product occurring in almost all instances. At the same time you also see the hybridization by the LCCs of things like - offering a frequent flyer program, participating in the GDS and moving to regular airports. But the core principles seem to stick. Focus on costs and simplicity of product.

As was said several times during the conference - the big boys are coming to the LCC model. Few are going the other way.


Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

New data from the US TIA shows that those long wilting violets - the US traveller has finally woken up and started travelling outside of the USA again.

With good numbers showing 11% growth in June - we could think that there is a mini-boomlet going on.

Not so fast.

The market characteristics are showing a high degree of fragility.

The bright spots are Latam (Mexico exempted though in this report they are showing good numbers - but this was before Mexicana tanked). The astonishing growth is coming going to the Middle East.

Here are the hightlights:

• Overseas markets increased 11 percent in June and increased four percent year to date.
• Europe increased 11 percent for the month but decreased one percent for the year.
• Asia grew 14 percent for the month and was up ten percent year to date.
• Canada increased nine percent for the month and grew six percent for the year.
• The Caribbean increased six percent in June and increased four percent year to date.
• For the month, air traffic to Mexico increased 15 percent. For the year, air traffic to Mexico increased eight percent.
• South America was up five percent for the month and grew one percent year to date.
• Central America increased five percent for the month but was down three percent year to date.
• The Middle East was up 24 percent in June and up 30 percent for the year.
• Oceania increased 34 percent for the month and grew 18 percent year to date.
• Africa increased 20 percent for the month and increased 17 percent for the year.

For the latest stats go here:



Rich Folk Don't Have Time To Shop....

I always thought the concept of a personal shopper was complete BS. But it seems that there are quite a few of these people out there. Real professional shoppers who use OPM to do the dirty deed.

I find that I spend less and less time in a store. About the only time I visit a real Retail Outlet is at airports. Especially as I seem to spend so much of my time there. Indeed I was trying to think when was the last time I actually was in a shopping mall. I can't honestly remember.

But I do shop online. I also when I have a moment do go to a particular store to look at some things. For example I am looking to acquire a new PC so will likely go to the real store and buy or examine there and then buy online.

I don't consider myself by any stretch of imagination to be an affluent person. I would describe myself as "comfortable" but like just about everyone else I am a working stiff. Probably more so than I should be at my advanced years. They say that teaching doesn't pay very well and I can attest to that fact.

One thing I find just abysmal in shopping both online and offline is customer service. The ultimate oxymoron in my view. In the retail stores - the amount of useless sales people who dont know their products is legendary. I am however very happily surprised when I come across an individual who does know his product and is prepared to help address my questions and interact with me accordingly. For that I have time and respect.

So what of the affluent. How are they handled and what is their value? eMarketer did a nice piece on this.

I once visited a well known travel attorney who had this poster on his office wall. I thought that a little tacky. I wonder if its still there.

One critical factor for anyone dealing with servicing these folks is the ability to be 100% comprehensive. In my view that is essential and so my advice is to offer live chat and/or telephone support right there. Otherwise these people will not wait and will go elsewhere.

Enjoy that glass of champers

Corporate Bloggers Off Point - Me Too?

As a blogger - I sometimes wonder if I am doing the right thing or bad thing for the world. Am I contributing for the benefit of the travel community or simply spouting a load of BS that no one is interested in?

Well wonder no more Professor has some answer.

Firstly I guess I have to answer my own charge. There are quite a few unique visitors to the blog every day. Counting the RSS and the email subscribers we are looking at more than 1000 per week. So that is a reasonable number in my view. The make up is interesting but also is how they come. Consistently over one third arrive from google searches. So I thank you for reading and am humbled by your attention to this little blog.

As I am not a corporate blogger and (well most of the time) do not use the blog to promote my company or my clients I find it interesting to read other people's blogs. In general Corporate Blogs fulfill a useful purpose of getting a story out. By definition they are self serving as one would expect. I think everyone is fine with that. Not if however a private blog is used to push a corporate agenda.

eMarketer just did a report on the subject. What is astonishing in my view is how off point people are on the subject of not being true to the corporate need.

In the report there is a great statement. "Distorted messages are not a new phenomenon; they have been a problem in mainstream media as well. Still, the message gap between companies and the traditional media is significantly smaller: Less than half of all messages in mainstream media failed to reflect company messages, and here the US performed above average."

So are blogs in corporates therefore mostly a personal vehicle for commentary by the blogger.

That is an interesting question

You Just GOTTA Go To This

Are you a left or a right brain person?

Most conferences are somewhat dry and focused on the functional set of industry issues.

For the past 5 years I have been going to the WIT - Web In Travel Conference in Singapore. By far it is the best conference going. What makes it different? apart from being the only real representative of what is going on in Asia, it is the context of the content that makes the difference.

If you want to stimulate your right side hemisphere and still satisfy your need for left hand side knowledge acquisition - then this is for you.

Check out their video. The talent assembled is pretty darn good.


30 September 2010

Farewell CO. No Longer Moving Its Tail

Today is the last day you can buy a Continental ticket.

The last day you will take a Continental Flight.

The end of a golden era of US Aviation history. The airline of Bob Six and (not so fondly remembered) Frank Lorenzo... it is now going to be a distant memory

I flew CO on so many occasions. International and US domestic. The Proud Bird was also my livelihood for a while too.

So let me just add my farewell


28 September 2010

Open Travel Has An Open Position

Here is a request that has come out from the Open Travel Alliance team.

Members and friends of OpenTravel,
OpenTravel is looking for a talented part-time technical resource for a Specification Coordinator position beginning ASAP as an open-ended contract. The job description is available by contacting below.

If you are interested in being considered for this position, submit a cover letter and CV/resume along with an hourly or monthly rate to positions@opentravel.org by Tuesday 12 October 2010.

Ping them if you want the job spec


Mobile OS very like GDS

If you watch the world of technology - the battle for the Operating system has been a long and interesting one. Back in the early 1980s there were some significant players who really knew about how to talk to machines.

IBM had about 7 or more ranging from big mainframes (VM, MVW and TPF) to mid range (Sys36 and Sys 38)and then the PC - OS/2 and Dos. Plus some weird ones. Now there are really only a few - zTPF, VM iSeries and of course they are big Linux fans now.

In the mobile world Symbian used to be the Amadeus of the mobile market. Now we see them losing customers and now their only major customer is Nokia - itself a company not in great shape. So the image above looks a lot different now that Sony Ericsson has pulled out.

So who are the new kids on the Block?

As we move to smart phone we have several.

Mr Closed is RIM and his enemy Mr Apple iOS
Mr Open is Android and WebOS (now HP)

So its the big 4 vs all the others. Sound familiar?