Archive for the ‘Influencers’ Category:
Google began positioning its new flight-finding feature at the top of general search results for airline booking information earlier this month. And its new competitors in the $110 billion online travel industry aren’t happy about the search giant crashing the party, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.
Chasing The Market To The Bottom
Travel is hot for 2012 and beyond. An increasing number of people say they’ll do more leisure traveling in the coming year, and even more say they’ll fly if they can find good deals in 2012. Good deals are going to be hard to find. The airlines attempted to raise prices 22 times in 2011 (and nine of those attempts were successful).
Business travel spend is expected to have grown 6.9% in 2011 compared to 2010, hitting $250.2 billion. The forecast for 2012 is 4.3% growth in business travel spend for 2012 (or $260.9 billion).
While revenue growth in the travel sector looks promising the user experience continues to decline. Flying today is like traveling by bus with few frills and even fewer fun times. Consider some of the recent headlines:
- Airline Technology Leading to Customer Alienation
- Airlines Score Lowest In Customer Satisfaction
- 92% of Executive Unhappy With Business Travel Experiences
I could go on with an endless list but by now the picture should be obvious. Current market dynamics within air travel services is propelling a race to the bottom and Google knows this. In other words air travel suppliers have boxed themselves into competing on price and thus air travel services have become a commodity. The meaning of the term commodity is used to describe a service for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market.
Google knows that search has the greatest influence over consumer choices for travel services. 93% of people who seek information on travel services use search. Consumers seek ratings and reviews, news articles, word of mouth and blog post which in the end influences their decisions. When there is little differential in a market then price becomes the initial decision factor followed by “social influences”, i.e. quality of the experience.
As a result, the present online travel bazaar is very competitive and the margins are shrinking . The tight competition led the market to compete on price rather than experience. Google recognizes this and simply stepped in and made the shopping experience better. Google doesn’t care about the price of air service they care about providing the price to consumers seamlessly.
As fortunes are made by leveraging technology to become ever more efficient, there is yet far greater wealth to be had by unleashing the discovery of new experiences and creation of new opportunities. That is exactly why we created Social Flights.
Few people take into account the social value of air transportation. There are very few studies that can measure the impact on a community when they are immobilized due to lack of a service that had previously been available. There is no true economic category to describe such loss except as a tax on travel.
A regressive tax is taxation that takes a larger percentage from low-income people than from high-income people. A regressive tax is generally a tax that is applied uniformly. This means that it hits lower-income individuals harder. Social Flights can restore this value with a regionalized public jet charter system.
Now we can add “Travel” to the list
Sales taxes that apply to essentials are generally considered to be regressive as well because expenses for food, clothing and shelter tend to make up a higher percentage of a lower income consumer’s overall budget. In this case, even though the tax may be uniform (such as 7% sales tax), lower income consumers are more affected by it because they are less able to afford it.
The small city gets the regressive travel tax
American Eagle announced that they would reduce frequency in a few select markets, they would discontinued seasonal service from D/FW to Augusta, Ga. Eagle would also discontinued service from Chicago to Tri-Cities, Tenn as well as discontinued service between Miami and Savanna, Ga., and Miami and Fort Myers, Florida. American Eagle would also hasten the cancellation of Los Angeles-Boise, Chicago-Calgary and D/FW-Fayetteville, N.C., service from Feb. 9 to Jan. 31.
So how many people would these reduction in service decisions impact? If we just add up the populations of the smaller metropolitan area in each city pair, we can estimate economic loss of opportunity under the assumption that the larger city would have alternate options. Fair enough?
Augusta, GA: 556,877
Tri Cities, TN: 500,538
Savanna, GA: 347,611
Ft Meyers, Fl: 618,754
Boise, Id: 616,500
Fayetteville, NC: 366,383
The Creeping Costs
The total is at least 4 million who will lose one more degree of economic freedom. 4 million people will pay a regressive tax denominated in time, money, and dignity in some form or another for the benefit of stockholders in American Eagle. 4 million people will lose the economic benefit of travelers from large cities.
On closer inspection, with the exception of Calgary and Boise, all of these cities are well within 1000 miles of each other. Each of these cities is well within 1000 miles of cities just as large as those that American Eagle is diminishing service.
While a hub and spoke model may break down economically, a regionalization strategy may work quite well. It has been proven that people are willing to pay a premium for direct service (otherwise the airlines would not be dropping less profitable indirect service). It is also obvious that people place a premium on their time and hassle as demonstrated by trends in online shopping, communication, and social organization.
These ingredients simple add up to a regionalization air transportation route structure enabled by online social organization tools such as Social Flights where community airlines can form around community priorities. Social Flights can restore this value with a regionalized public jet charter system.
All of us at Social Flights extend our deepest holiday wishes to all the people who have supported us during this our Launch year. A lot has happened since February 2011. We thought we should report to you what has been accomplished and some new developments underway:
Over 13,000 people have joined Social Flights Traveler’s Network receiving unlimited access to the following services:
- Over 90 Private Charter Operators have joined the Social Flights platform.
- Over 500 aircraft are available in the Social Flights Virtual Fleet.
- Social Flights website can now deliver an instant auto quote under our “Create a Flight” option.
- Social Flights Allows you to embed our quoting feature in your website
- Social Flights Developed a full suite of Community Airline services for small cities that are losing – or never had – airline service.
- Social Flights allows members to create alerts to desired locations or invitations to join a flight formation.
- Social Flights assures privacy with our internal networking features which are never released to the public domain.
Beginning next year:
- Social Flights will expand scheduled public jet charter service through the community airline program to smaller markets and even “stranded” communities.
- Social Flights will expand one-way flight program from 100 per day to over 1000 per day
- Social Flights is building out the affinity travel and social jet charter service to include colleges, Sports, concerts, conventions, events, tourism, and family travel.
- Our Elite Travel Services division will initiate international social jet charter service between the US and China as well as Latin America.
To our Partners:
Our partner network is growing to include hotels, Concierge services, tour operators, marketing firms, Facebook page owners, event managers, and economic development agencies.
Our partner network will continue to grow to serve the traffic that we now steadily deliver hassle-free to your communities.
These are the highlights off the accomplishments this year and some insider information on what to expect next year.
If you are a traveler please invite your friends and colleagues to share a jet. If you are a community or event organizer, please keep in mind that we are here to serve you and your community travel needs. If you are a certified aircraft operator, let us help you increase utilization of your inventory. If you are a hospitality or experience service provider, please let us help you build travel packages around the freedom of flight.
Few people get on a commercial airplane to enjoy the fine food, friendly conversation and sensational view – but that may change as KLM continues to innovate in social media. Some may remember that KLM was the first to provide on-demand service from Europe to Miami booked entirely through social media.
This time, KLM is banking on the fact that people who have both an origin city and a destination city in common, would have other things in common as well. KLM observes that people share information with each other so freely on social media- so maybe they’ll share information with each other on “Social Airlines”.
Will something get lost in the translation between the virtual and the reality? Fortunately, Anne van den Berg was kind enough to provide Social Flights with a translation of her Dutch language blog, Editor Anne Daily:
You always have to wait and see who will sit next to you on an airplane. A crying kid or a smelly man, it is not always fun. Soon, this can be in the past. The Dutch airline company KLM will be offering seating suggestions based on someone’s Twitter or Facebook account. The goal, says an executive from KLM, is letting, mainly business, passengers network. I am very curious how this will work.
Well, we are asking the same questions at Social Flights. In fact we are attempting to fill small aircraft on direct flights based on a similar assumption that people of like interests would choose to share an airplane together. While the KLM starts with a full plane and sorts people by interests, Social Flights hopes to go one step further and use such data to “kickstart” scheduled “flash Charter Jet” service. So while KLM sees an important branding advantage, Social Flights sees and entirely new paradigm for air transportation – public Charter Jets.
Anne van den Berg continues with the following analysis:
- What kind of customers are you serving? I wonder, what customer are waiting for this service? Personally, I like having some conversations with my neighbour in an airplane, but, mainly when I return from a trip, I want to sleep. Nó contact. If someone will come and sit next to me with the expectation of discussing the state of the world in a highly intellectual manner, it is very probable he will be deceived.
- And what about privacy? I expect that customers will have to do an opt-in, but do you want to give everybody insight in who you are? If you put your Twitter information out there, sure that is public already, but Facebook? That is mainly meant for family and friends (although some people will stretch that definition).
KLM has since disclosed in this CNN article that mutual acceptance to use the social seating tool will be required. KLM was quick to note that the intention is not to create a dating game and they did not disclose if they would charge an extra fee for the service. Further, they they did mention adding any amenities in support of the friendship event.
This leaves me wondering what the implications of being “unfriended” in virtual space and reality space at the edge of physical space. In any case, Social Flights will be watching KLM developments actively. Thanks Anne for the tip and translation on this story – let’s share a flight sometime.
National Public Radio recently aired 2 very interesting segments on the airline industry. The first segment cited companies leaving small cities because of poor air transportation service. The second segment cited an interesting statistic; all of the airlines that existed before the deregulation act of 1978 have gone bankrupt.
But wait, wasn’t airline deregulation supposed to be good for the airlines? Wasn’t it supposed to spawn innovation and drive economies of scale? Wasn’t it supposed to increase choices for the airline passenger?
Well, at least one of these impacts is true; deregulation spawned innovation – although probably not the way it was predicted in 1978. Today, new technologies are appearing everywhere from new forms of social organization to faster and smarter aircraft systems. This article features a very interesting aircraft sector called the personal sport jet. While I do not know enough about their actual business model, it would appear that they are aiming where the airlines and major manufacturers simply cannot reach.
With an operating cost of $400 per hour instead of $1200-$2000 per hour in this class, the excel sportjet can deliver a 2 hour jet flight performance in a “regionalization” market. Social media trends show us that people are connected in shorter distances and far more diverse locations than the hub and spoke system can accomodate.
This aircraft is small, lightweight, and fast. It uses a single jet engine and flies at a lower altitude reducing pressurization forces and associated cost. The Sport Jet II carries 4 people and employs extensive use of composites in addition to simplified pilot qualification requirements.
Clayton Christensen’s book “The Innovator’s Dilemma” cites numerous now classic examples of how industries are threatened by simple upstarts that deliver what the customer wants at a price they can afford without the complexity and “over-performance” burden that mainstream players evolve into.
While the aviation business is very complicated, it is truly a pleasure to witness new products and innovations that come to market under the radar of the big players. We hope that they grow to have an impact on the industry. After all, that is what Social Flights is all about.
Bravo Sport Jet II, Bravo.