30 June 2011

Is WAYN For Real?

I am sure that Kim is very nice but I have no idea who she is and why she has anything to do with my travel.

Well WAYN seems to have a secret sauce that thinks that I as a dirty old man will like Kim. And that she (personally) has been dying to know what I think of her. As I while my time away with my head in books as opposed to living on Facebook or gawking at girls on the WAYN site, I hate to disappoint both Kim and WAYN but I am not interested.

So with all due respect to Kim and many other girls that WAYN has been sending my way for some nefarious reasons I will decline.

One day perhaps they will just stop doing it. But in the mean time - it is clear that WAYN like Florida Orange Juice - isn't just for breakfast or any other time of day for that matter.


Travelport Ends Air Malta Agreement

In a galaxy far far away....

In a former life - I worked for Worldspan. In that job - one of the things we did was to break conventional models for airlines and distribution.

My team built a solution which let an airline have the benefit of a GDS connection in their market without having an onerous GDS contracting scheme to go with it. This solution was delivered outside of all conventional wisdom at effectively zero cost to the airline and no incremental cost to the agency community. Over the years it returned a nice revenue to Worldspan and then Travelport after it.

While this was not the first time that a dual mode terminal had been delivered in a market - it was the first time and as far as I can tell the only version that enabled a cut over of seamless nature in a market at really no cost.

Today's market costs by the GDSs are very different from the agreement that lasted more than 18 years in Malta. Travelport and Air Malta have announced the end of the agreement.

So hats off to all the team who worked on this project, to the airline's management who understood the value and to an era that has long gone replaced by a higher cost structure that ultimately adds cost to the passenger's ticket.


Why I am Tired Of Working For Google...

One of my pet peeves about the development of product today is that as a user I am expected to do things over and above and beyond being - er - well - a USER!

And really I am SO TIRED of having to tell Google what is crappy about their system.

And here we have it again. Another Lite product from the Googleplex. You would think after so many failed efforts in the Social Space to replicate or combat (or both) Facebook that they would put out something that was more fully featured and well frankly not as lame as Google+.

AS we saw Google's first efforts in air - the schedule tool - is pretty darn lame to start with. And we should no longer be surpirsed. What we are seeing is that Google's output is increasingly built on a familiar formula.

V1 - TRUE beta - lame product with a lot of promise and minimal functionality.
V2 - the first real effort based on what the Googleplex drones have slaved away to develop for the hive. The drones have in most cases no idea what they are doing but the Acolytes take the overt and the covert learning and try and built a product. In the early days this used to be pretty good - but lately it has been more like a microsoft V1 product.
V3 - the first product that actually functions properly - typically delivered 2 years after V1 and the first to have the word "BETA" removed from it.

Google+ is following this very tired formula.

Yes I am tired and frustrated with Google for doing such a poor job. With all your squillions you should consider paying us rather than pocketing the cash and making us pay with our increasingly shorter leisure time.

So am I an unpaid Google worker? Yes. Because they take my data and manipulate it. And yes because they steal time from me with their less than perfect apps that make me work their way, not the best way.

Of course I could just stop using Google and its applications.

Couldn't I?

........ message terminated by order of the Googleplex.

PROFESSOR’S TRUE NOTE. As soon as I wrote the word – GOOGLEPLEX – my Blogger account started showing an error. Coincidence or are the REALLY watching.

29 June 2011

MySpace Goes For A Pittance

This is really rather sad. It also demonstrates that big media still doesn't get social media.

So now we can see how the damage works

Murdoch's NEWSCORP purchased MySpace 6 years ago for $580 Million. Now the troubled site has been sold on for less than $37 million with NewsCorp retaing 5%. Specific Media is an ad business and will likely treat MySpace as a vehicle of nefarious ad laden overhead.

Sad really

AA Changes Boarding - Interesting Take

So American Airlines is changing boarding to by the time you check in.

No big deal you say?

Actually it is. Check out the local newspaper story.

Now what is interesting is two major factors. One is to do with Carry on and the other with boarding efficiency.

With carry on there are no US flights where all the bags fit. So the airlines bag fees have resulted in different behaviour. IE people try and carry on as much as they can. For AA this has resulted in an interesting characteristic. They try and load passengers quickly but quietly offer no charge bag tagging at the gate. Clearly this practice has become widely known so the resulting potential revenue loss is not insignificant lets say $100 per flight (4 bags @$25 per bag). With AA moving more than 3400 flights per day on average this could add up.

Yup that's a cool $31 million a year.

Let's now consider the airport operations issues.

The airport boarding process is one of the least liked processes for a passenger. Right up there with TSA Screening but we are not touching that one right now.

The problem is that everyone wants to board at the same time. It is a hydraulic problem. Getting the people fluid into the vessel. However if you are a long time reader of this blog - you will find that I have examined this issue before. Random boarding beats everything but some very specifically controlled boarding. So randomly boarding people at different points on the plane was one of my suggestions based on check in number.

Seems AA is a good follower of the Professor and agrees. So this is now likely to speed traffic through the boarding gate.

How well it works - TBD.


Sabre AND Travelport Take Big Steps Outside Air with New Hubs

While Amadeus has been retreating to focus on the air business - the other guys seem to be going the other way.

Sabre announced the major acquisition of Softhotels which will beef up their Hospitality business - already a vibrant component of Sabre and a major force in hospitality.

Travelport - free of the GTA boat anchor business - has now started a new Agent based leisure service for non-air.

Both of these announcements demonstrate the need of the core business to expand. As the GDS component of the Big 3 GDS companies declines and the market moves to a more open model - we can expect this form of behaviour.

However - for those of you who watch the space carefully - will this be a worthy replacement for the standard GDS business?

Well in my view the GDS yields will be hard to find replication for Travelport unless the former sink below 20% which seems to be on the cards. For Sabre this is a complimentary business and looks to help them in their quest to edge Pegasus out of the nest as the central player in Hospitality distribution.

28 June 2011

Are Your Really A Consumer Lover?

Announcing the first Witovation Awards.

Are you a real Consumer Lover? Do they love you back?

Well enough Rhetoric. Show me

Check out the criteria for the awards here and get that presentation together. An esteemed team of judges will be joining me in determining the ultimate Customer Lover.

Go on - put your money where your mouth is.


26 June 2011

Understanding Groupon and Living Social

I am not a fan of the Groupon/Living Social Model. I fact I detest it. It just smells bad to me.

However - clearly the consumer's like it. So it has value. But this is a zero sum game which is so blatantly obvious that either I am stupid... or they are.

So have a read of the article from eMarketer. It does show some interesting dynamics of the two players.

Sadly it just approaches things from the consumer end not the supplier end.

But worth a read anyway


Why I Hate The Manipulation Of Search

Hands up those who think that Search is ALL of the following:

Consumer Friendly

Right - all you Google Acolytes can put your hands down now.

I thoroughly dislike the manipulation of search. I hate that SEO has become synonymous with all that is dirty and ugly on the web. Back when the web was young and Google was but a glint in someone's eye, we used to worry that because the web was like the Universe - limitless. Therefore making money on the web was going to be hard as you could never own a piece of real estate long enough for it to have any value. Web Homesteading meant any person could put out his shingle and start selling stuff. The downside was that we could hardly find anything. The upside was that this was the purest. It removed the barriers so that the little guy could compete with the big guy. It was going to be the great leveller.

Today - we have the massive gatekeepers like Google (OK so the Googleplex IS the gatekeeper). Which in turn means we have to play games in order to get any presence. And this means we have to resort to - I can think of no other way to express it - but to call it cheating. In order to Optimize your abilities - you have to get on the Hamster Wheel and run that mad just to stay in place.

The different tricks that people get up to are indeed all over the map. And we are spiraling down to more and more extreme forms of cheating.

Let me just put up a few examples:

Unscrupulous SEO advisers, digital agencies and even individual companies some of whom are quite reputable (normally) engage in these practices.

1. Put keywords that include brand names of your competitors. While largely stamped out this practice remains prominent

1. Freelance blog for money commentators who are usually factory farming people writing from home or in low cost countries who mascarade as real bloggers or commentators. These people are trained in techniques that they can use to commentate. They are literally nothing more than robots. ( would hazard a guess that some indeed are machines now). I have been getting quite a few of these appearing on my blogs.

2. Fake people. a 19 year old professional "faker" masquerading as a 35 year old housewife from Stockport replete with fake name, normal sounding email and other persona credentials.

3. Compensation mechanisms which are tied to the latest version of Google's algorithms. (EG Panda v1 and v2).

For a great list and discussion on this topic go to InfoWorld here.

And who is to blame? We all are.

However I think there are ways to do something about it. Firstly the consumer is tired of this and HE/SHE KNOWS YOU ARE CHEATING. So anyone who thinks you can do this and get away with it - you might gain some short term advantage.

For my part - I believe that one of the drivers of Social Media is that the Trust of the peers - are helping to raise the stakes. But now we have "Fake Social" peers who are attempting to become arbiters of this Trust. I have about the average number of "Friends" in Facebook and a larger number of Linked in contacts. I routinely weed people out and only accept people I know personally. However fakers still slip in.

All of us have the responsibility to route out these fakers and cheaters.

So think about this today - go into your Facebook and Linked in Accounts and remove people who are not personally known to you.