By Dennis A. Marzella
Where have all the comfortable seats gone, long time passing. Where has all the service gone, long time ago. Where has all the quality in food and beverage gone, gone to graveyards every one, when will the airlines learn. When will they eev...ver learn?
It will probably take innovative competition or business travelers substituting high-technology communications instead of enduring the torture of airline dysfunctional seating. It's no wonder the Florida Spine Institute in sunny Clearwater, Florida advertises in some of the in-flight magazines.
But, at least one of the major airlines United is rumored to be addressing the consumer comfort factors and service issues in their new strategic plans. If they do, and pay attention to a few other consumer needs, it will undoubtedly be a strategic advantage that has the potential of being a big winner.
Although service perception is still in a state of decline, there has been some improvement on select experience dimensions. Nonetheless, the industry still has a long way to go. Sooo...many problems, sooo...little time, but recently more profits! (Say "thank you" revenue management and perky demand.) Perhaps now is the time to honor thy consumers.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Delta Airlines Board of Directors wants the company to recapture the high level of service that it once was known for while simultaneously holding down costs.
Furthermore, the Journal reports that while Delta is in a strong financial position, it has been struggling with a sharp decline in customer service since implementing a service cost-cutting program.
The YP&B/Yankelovich Partners 1997 National Business Travel MONITOR reveals that air travelers' perception of airlines improving the quality of service declined significantly between 1995 and 1996. In other words, a lower proportion said service was improving. Although some positive change in seat comfort was acknowledged over last year and in that sense there are more survivors nearly seven in ten air travelers still say airline seats are uncomfortable except for first-class. What industry, what progressive company can chart a course for the future with such a high magnitude of potential users saying a fundamental product feature is "uncomfortable"? Add to this the fact that about six in ten think airline food is generally poor (again acknowledging there was some improvement over last year).
It is probably not surprising that our trends reveal these negative perceptions toward airline travel is more pronounced among frequent business travelers (10+ trips per year) and upscale travelers (you pick the definition, it doesn't matter). Color them masochistic.
If the airline industry does not respond to these needs, consumers are at least predisposed to be inclined to say "thank you but no thank you" to business travel in the future...six in ten say that new technology will probably reduce business travel in the future.
While this attitude has diminished some since last year, the magnitude of the measure still suggests that the consumer satisfaction issue is worth paying attention to with meaningful change. For the airlines, to do otherwise is "death wish" marketing.
Where have all the airlines gone, gone to graveyards every one. When will they ever learn, when will they eev...ver learn?