18 June 2011

The Flip Side of LBS - Cyber Stalking.

Al Franken - Comedian no more - at least not for the next 18 months - is a Senator in the USA.

He is also very liberal. He is sponsoring a bill essentially to prevent Cyber stalking using Location Based Services in your mobile phone.

You can read about the details in the following article.

The bottom line to this is at a combination of Apple and Google's over-reaching use of LBS systems, and some pretty sloppy coding by Android developers has resulted in not just potential by actual abuse. People forget Newton's second law.

Let this be a lesson


12 June 2011

DoT Toughening Up on Online Advertising

The US Dept of Transportation is increasing both its surveillance of online advertising for Airline related businesses.

Indeed there is quite a lot of legal constraints on what you can and cannot do/say.

The DoT has just fined Frontier Airlines for a transgression.

Last month several online websites were fined.

And don't forget that the cash strapped US States are also getting into the act.

you have been warned. Comply with the letter and the spirit of the law


Ever Wanted To Know The REAL Seattle?

Then here is a way to learn it all in about 2 hours.

This week's A Prairie Home Companion came from Chateau Ste Michelle Winery in Woodenville just outside Seattle and near where I live. So along with a few friends and probably most of the local NPR Station's listeners (KUOW) I went along to listen to Garrison Keeler. It was a great show.

To listen to it (from Monday June 13th) go to the PHC website and down load the archive.



Are US Travelers Stupid?

For a long time the value of brand has been that you can persuade someone to do something that they might not do otherwise.

In today's online - "just a click away" culture - the assumption is that the consumer is now better informed and will therefore make a better decision.

So what about fact?

Are the brand values we know and respond to actually meaningful and correct? Indeed do the brands match up to the expected value that consumers have for them?

In reality often times they don't. Case in point Southwest Airlines.

In 2000, my team did an assessment of Southwest and found that in most cases for the top 25 US based markets southwest did not have the lowest fare in all classifications. In reading Scott McCartney's analysis in the Wall Street Journal last week this trend is really showing. With the end of WN's legendary fuel hedging advantage - WN is well just like any other airline.

Indeed domestically WN is the largest airline in the USA market.

With the merger of AirTran that number has indeed grown.

According to the US DoT WN's average ticket price has skyrocketed 39% in the past five years, while the average ticket price for domestic trips for the industry was up 10%, and much of that is driven by the changes in WN's model.

But you also have to watch for some of the Gotchas. WN used to let you standby for an earlier flight at no cost. Not any more. They used to check a bag no matter what. Not any more - there is a weight and size limit that is typically lower than that of the average bags. They used to treat everyone the same. Not any more you can pay for a premium package with 2 levels of business class fare. You used to be forced to get to the airport early if you wanted a reasonable seat. Not any more - you can buy an earlier boarding pass.

So WN is no longer a discount carrier. It has old planes. It has older employees. It makes money from Ancillary Revenues. It participates in the GDSs. It charges more than 1000 dollars for a ticket.

Yup that makes them a full service airline. But they still like to poke their noses at others. And they still like to accentuate beautiful females to appeal to the male travellers. It will be interesting to see if they ever put a guy on the side of the plane....