Gilliland: What Airlines Need Is A Chief Merchandising Officer

Sabre Holdings Chairman and CEO Sam Gilliland, speaking at The Beat Live in Austin Wednesday, suggested that airlines need to appoint a Chief Merchandising Officer in order to manage the continued onslaught of new fees (or revenues depending on your perspective) that the airlines themselves are developing.

We agree and think this is a great idea.  [more] To date, while airlines have been highly inventive in coming up with new fees (e.g. Delta's fee for redeeming miles on Skymiles partner airlines - even when completed online - which is thankfully going away on October 1st) there has been limited creativity in actually marketing many of these fees and add-on services online or on board. Most efforts have centered around in-seat materials or website messaging.

I believe a truly integrated (pan-airline i.e. during the booking process, after booking, at the airport, on board and maybe even after the flight) and creative (mobile anyone?) effort by the major carriers could not only take some of the sting out of these fees but could also result in further growing these revenue streams...

We'll see if the airlines can innovate beyond asking consumers for their wallets...

These insights are excerpted with permission from Tom Botts' Hudson Crossing blog.