21 April 2011

Dr Who Community Mourns The Passing Of Elizabeth Sladen

I learned yesterday that Elizabeth Sladen had died. Here is a great tribute include the video of her exit from the show.

She was the archetypal Dr Who girl. The naive look of shock she managed to exhibit in episode after episode was always a source of amusement and perhaps a hankering for innocence.

Farewell Sarah.

And Delta Makes 6 - Impact on OTAs

I was playing with the stock of the big 3 public OTAs and the 4 largest airlines to compare their stock performance over the past 6 months.

In the wake of the decision by Delta Airlines to use the Farelogix distribution system, it is clear that the US market for distribution has now been clearly redefined. The big 5 US traditional model airlines - US Airways, American Airlines, Delta and Continental/United have now all signed up for the service. Technically Southwest may have too as they are consuming Air Tran who is also signed up with Farelogix. (So that is how I got to 6)

If the market as determined by the stock prices represents the wisdom of the crowd then I think we can clearly see that Orbitz is being spanked.

Click on the image to see a clearer image of the lines.

The Stock symbols are:

PCLN= Priceline
OWW = Orbitz
EXPE = Expedia
AMR = American Airlines
DAL = Delta Airlines
UAL = United Continental
LUV = Southwest Airlines

The recovery of Expedia since the change of direction is beginning to show.

I think we just witnessed a seismic shift in distribution balance.


20 April 2011

The Like Button as a Proxy for Consumer Opinion

Many people are looking at Facebook as if it is the second (or 3rd) coming. But when you get to the real metrics you have to strip away some of the hype.

Let me give you an example of the hype that I believe is detrimental to the objective analysis of the value of Facebook vs Google.

Check out the Aussie website devoted to advertising trade. Ad News.

The discussion revolved around the head of the IGN - The News Corp site for Gamers. Chambers is head of IGN. He stated this...

Chambers said the average number of Facebook friends per user globally was about 130. The Dead Island trailer, he said, generated about 150,000 “Likes” .

“So 150,000 times 130 is a big number [19.5 million] and that was the potential traffic that was delivered back to wherever it was viewed - most of it came back to IGN,” Chambers said. “It then opens up the question: is a ‘like’ more important than the [search] ‘link’?”

Asked if it was, Chambers said: “Personally, I would rather discover something from a social circle of people who know me rather than an algorithm that doesn’t.”

Now it is the last statement that gives me most pause for thought.

This is where the opengraph and the use of the like button really breaks down. Drawing the analogy that the Like Button = proxy for my social friends recommendations is FAR TOO SIMPLISTIC.

This bothers me greatly.

The like Button which we all know is often clicked in a Pavlovian response of an expectation of a Gimme type gift therefore is also being gamed.

So you have to decide how much do you think this is going to be relevant. Don't dismiss it but give its context.


19 April 2011

Low Fare Airlines to Dominate But....

An interesting report from the ELFAA and York Aviation titled European Low Fares Airline Association: Forecasting the Market Share of Low Fares Airlines in Europe.

its only 15 pages and well worth the read. But I will challenge the presumed results.

What the report fails to acknowledge is the maturity of the Southwest Model. Also it fails to consider that there will be a capacity constraint problem in Europe. It also doesn't give any allowance for the opening of the European market to non-EU based carriers.

With Stansted Airport - Europe's largest Low Fare airport experiencing traffic declines - these numbers may be hard to sustain. But in my view this discounts entirely the hyrbidization of the airlines - particularly Easyjet and Norwegian. I predict that by 2020 Easyjet will be a legacy looking carrier with full service amenities just like jetBlue and to some extent Southwest have become in the USA. Norwegian will have also LONG HAUL flights as it has purchased at least 2 787s.

Further I believe that Ryanair cannot continue to expand using secondary airports and therefore must adopt some full service ancillary service capability. Indeed just like Southwest has experienced in the USA market.

I believe that we will have had a total breakdown of the legacy GDS model and a replacement of so many options of distribution that there will be a whole new class of Air Find services. More implicit than explicit type interfaces.

Finally I predict that the long shadow of Emirates and to a lesser extent the other Gulf carriers and the removal of competitive barriers will mean a great deal of additional competition of different characteristics. We can look to the EK Trans Tasman flight extensions as a model for increased competition inside Europe. Of course this assumes that the legacy EU carriers are not successful in bringing barriers to entry through regulation.

Food for thought.


18 April 2011

While Banners Show Surprising Strength CPM continues its decline

The numbers are in for 2010. Here is the analysis from eMarketer.

Online banner ads did surprisingly well. But looking below the numbers and you get a picture of the ultimate change in the profile of advertising.

CPM based or impressions based metric'd media is clearly on the way out replaced by performance based models for online.

With the likely investigation and restriction (in the USA) of targeting - this is likely to be the definitive model for some time to come.


Boeing's X737 Dilemma. Increment Or Radical?

If you go on eBay and type "Sonic Cruiser" you will find a number of models of the ill fated Boeing Sonic Cruiser. Probably one of the sexiest planes designed. A modern day XB70 which in my view was the most beautiful aircraft ever flown.

Boeing faces a significant dilemma on what it does next. Does it go a Sonic Cruiser approach or a conventional approach? As it tries to figure out what is most important and the relative priorities of the X737 replacement for the world's best selling jet transport.

Fuel economy, Noise, passenger comfort, safety, cost to build, cost to operate, the environment, competitive... the list is extensive.

But the most important factor of all is the one that bedevils Boeing's decision processes. That factor?


The excitement around Boeing announcing the X737 at the 2011 Paris Air Show is beginning to dim as more more "leaks" from Chicago and Renton come into the general consciousness.

Boeing looks like it will make the decision to go with a new aircraft. I think that is now fairly obvious especially with the probability of a production commitment date of 2014-1015. But its ability to deliver a new aircraft before 2020 in volume product seems remote. That is going to give A320NEO a 4 year lead. With the first year's NEO production rapidly filling up with commitments Boeing is caught in the time box.

So this is the Professor's prognostication.

1. Boeing will announce some enhancements to the current production models. this will result in about a 1% increase in overall efficiency. Look also for the almost "full" 787 cockpit to be placed onto the current product. I suspect that there will be some pricing adjustments to take advantage of the short term price advantage that the aircraft may have.

2. Repositioning and aggressive marketing of the current -900ER as a 757ER replacement for thin transoceanic routes. Many of the current 757 ERs are reaching end of life and few were original build ER aircraft. Look for some cabin amenities to be improved - particularly in the seating configurations. A stretch is unlikely and unnecessary at this point.

3. As the short body 787 is not making much headway - there is a possibility that a revised 767 maybe introduced now that Boeing has the 767 with a 787 cockpit (courtesy of the Tanker program - which Boeing needs to make money on) and a short body and will continue to be produced in Everett.

4. Boeing will announce a commitment to the new plane with a 2012 in service delivery date.

Let's see what happens. At this point a GTF product on the current 737NG is a non-starter.


17 April 2011

Inspiration on Human Speech From Roger Ebert @TED.com

I think you all know that I love TED.com and its speech.

I have been fascinated by the abilities of people to overcome limitations of our bodies. Those who cant see. Those who are missing limbs. Those who cannot hear. Those who cannot speak.

Roger Ebert a well known US Film commentators for many many years. Due to a lost battle with a form of cancer - he can no longer speak.

Watch this and be thankful for the abilities we have and take for granted. Then marvel at the way this articulate and brave man has used Technology to overcome his obstacles and resume life as a contributing member of society.

Check this out and once you do - go to the rest of TED.com for more inspiration.

Thanks for reading

So What Is Your Expert Opinion?

Many consultants are called on to provide expert testimony and subject matter expertise. I have been called on frequently to do this as an "expert".

I am a member of at least one Expert Network. And I am happy to do that work.

The issues of using a machine to provide the same level of service comes into question. Could Watson do this?

There is a great article here.

Have a read - highly recommended for you no matter who or where you are in the Knowledge Food Chain


Web Navigation - THINK First

Most web navigation is a set of compromises of many different flavours. The days of simple Nav have long since gone. Our products and services - especially in Travel - are very complex. Compound this with the fact that most Travel products are dynamic in nature.

As a result we have crapola Nav on so many websites.

However that is no excuse for not trying to do a better job of getting it right.

Gerry McGovern's post
this week tackles the poor state of web navigation and gives some perspective.

In my view two sites that do a reasonable job are BBC and Amazon. However despite the attempts - I still find both maddeningly complex and really lacking in context.

In many cases because I don't trust the Nav to do a good job I frequently re-trace my steps and go down paths from the top of the tree rather than expecting to use the links to cross to other pages deep along the branches. So in my view if you are not able to do a good job - then have structured and consistent Nav. having explained this a squillion times to web designers here are my rules for Navigation.

Fixed Nav MUST NOT CHANGE and sits on the Nav bar - or LHS/RHS Nav metaphor you are using. Ditto the stuff on the bottom and on the Site Map.

For Dynamic Nav - do this via links on the respective pages.


...But US Online Up in 2010. Now What?

The latest missive from PhocusWright's view of the Online market for Travel shows continuing growth but clear maturity.

The number of US consumers researching and booking travel online is still growing. More than 114 million people will research travel online this year, and 93.9 million will book it.

As the market matures - there is one looming issue. Is the US web user bored and tired with the current explicit nature of search for Travel?

In my view the answer is yes. This should give a lot of encouragement to the likes of Hipmunk and all the others beavering away in Garages and Backrooms trying to improve the search experience.

And along comes the Google Borg. They will change search for Travel.


Mobile Travel: Research yes, book - not necessarily

The trends towards usage of a Smart Mobile device (as opposed to a pure phone and as also opposed to a dumb mobile device) is increasing. However be careful with the hype.

The issue is that the metric is a very broad one. Accessed a mobile search once a year.

However I do believe that the adoption curve will be fast and furious as people get used to using Smart Mobile devices.

If you want to have a little quiet giggle to your self. Next time you fly on a plane with a seat back video system. Watch how people interact with it. Those who have smart mobile devices will use gestures and will swipe a button on the touch screen. Those who dont will be trying to disturb the people in front of them


UK Travel Online Not Quite So Healthy

While the whole UK market for products sold via the web had a healthy boost in March and continued its move upwards, Travel took a stumble last month in the market.

As reported in etid, The latest figures released by the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index have registered falling online travel sales for the first time in a year

In the UK, during March a year-on-year increase of 14%, also meant overall the first quarter grew by 18%, the largest first quarter growth since 2008.

However, the trend was not mirrored by the travel industry which saw a year-on-year fall of 2% in online sales as well as a 15% drop on February’s sales.

This is likely driven by the late Easter and the general UK economic conditions which have continued to show travel sales falling in what was once Europe's largest market for Travel.

As Chris Nixon, managing director at Kelkoo Travel, said 'With online travel bookings across Europe set to account for 35% of the total travel market in 2011 and predicted to be worth £73.7bn, the internet is an essential way of searching for the best prices across both low cost and traditional airlines.’

UK is going to continue to struggle for some time. And yes there will be more casualties with the market resembling a lot of walking wounded.