Archive for June 18th, 2010:
- You may not wear any portion of your uniform into a bar.
- You may not consume alcohol in public while wearing your uniform.
- The company does not co-sponsor events with breweries, distilleries, or distributors of alcoholic products.
- The company does not sponsor events where people are likley to be injured, i.e. rodeos.
- Agents’ fingernails must be manicured.
- Agents may wear no more than one ring on each hand and no more than one earring in each ear.
- Female agents’ lipstick should be visible from across the room. (not kidding)
These were some of the ways that AMR protected its brand when I was working for the company. As you can see, the company was very mindful how employee behavior and event sponsorship affected public perception of the company as a whole. Clearly, they didn’t want passengers associating the airline with alcohol or injury, and they required agents to look clean, neat and professional. At the time, I thought it was a little funny that of the three things the airline required agents to do, i.e. 1. report to work on time; 2. wear the uniform correctly; and, 3. be nice, job competency didn’t make the list. In a recent Adweek column, Tony Hsieh says, “[if] you ask most people what the “brand” of the airline industry as a whole is, they’ll usually say something about bad customer service or bad customer experience.” So, it appears that #3 seems to have fallen off the list, as well.
In that June 8 column, Hsieh suggests that your company culture is your brand – something AMR taught all customer service agents years ago. The company culture was “seamless service from the first point of contact.” If you’ve flown nearly any airline recently, you’re rolling your eyes right now because you know that it’s not that way anymore. And that’s a shame for them.
However, it could be a boon for business aviation. As airline capacity decreases, traveler frustration increases at an inversely proportional rate. The worse air mass-transit experiences become, the more likely business travelers are to find alternatives. According to the New York Times, passengers are opting to drive or take the train between close city-pairs. Citing the OAG, the Times says that counting only passengers whose trip was from one city to another, “traffic between Atlanta and Jacksonville, Fla., was down 41 percent from 2000 through 2009… It was down 47.4 percent between Pittsburgh and Washington and 58.1 percent between Chicago and Cleveland… Traffic between New York and Washington fell by 53.4 percent, and between New York and Boston 48.8 percent.” Where available, Amtrak is already capitalizing on airline dissatisfaction and has captured more of the market.
Trains and cars are workable alternatives, but history demonstrates that travelers in those markets would rather fly, and therein lies the opportunity for BizAv.
We offer a clearly superior product (fast, comfortable transportation) without the drawbacks of air mass-transit (wasted time, security hassles, unpleasant surroundings). Our challenge is to take the distorted BizAv brand as define by the Mainstream Media and rebrand our industry using our real strengths. Like never before, we have the opportunity to define our industry through our concierge customer service, door-to-door travel options, gourmet cuisine, reliability, safety, and expediency. It is time for us to increase and introduce our value proposition to the weary business traveler.
It’s time for us to take our brand back.