We Are The Customers Around Here!

Okay, okay. The last thing I wanted to do today was to write a blog post. I’ve been in 5 different cities, eaten at least 5 meals on airplanes, lost my iPhone in NYC this week, and now I’ve got a leak in my house. I was ready for some R&R. Then I read this blog post at The Just fantastic. Look, I know I’m sounding like a broken record here, but I’m always in favor of honest, open debate, but it’s got to be honest. For the reasons stated above, clearly I’m not it the best of moods, and maybe that’s why it’s really sticking in my craw, but I just really feel the need to respond to this one. [more]Anyway, I’m not going to rehash the article, but I thought I would introduce a dose of reality from the point of view of a very frequent business traveler. Yes, I believe I qualify as a frequent business traveler. Are we serious when we ask, “So who is the airline’s customer?” Surely we must be kidding? We all know it’s you and me. Flesh and blood travelers. And with all due respect to the infrequent leisure travelers that I see lots of this time of year (ATL airport even has a special security line for them – called the inexperienced traveler line), it’s the corporate traveler that is the bread and butter for most network airlines. Frequent travelers like you and me.And to think that the corporate travelers don’t want or need access to the many new airline products and services is simply not true. They are the ones already buying and using them today. Next time you fly on an airplane that has Wi-Fi, look to see who is using it. The family of four going to Disneyworld? Nope. It’s you and me, the corporate business travelers. And what are we doing with that Wi-Fi? Work. We’re emailing, sending last minute presentations, and contracts in advance of our arrival. The same goes for advanced boarding, lounge access, seat upgrades, and more legroom. We are using those services because they make our travel more productive. Look who is seating in those preferred seats, getting the upgrades, boarding in front of everyone else. Yep. It’s us. And we are either paying for these services ourselves or finding inventive ways to expense them. And why?I hate to interject some facts here, but let’s not forget that an Oxford Research study from 2009 concluded that every dollar invested in business travel returned $12.50 in revenue and $3.80 in profits. Business travel works, and so do business travelers… we work hard and often… yes even on airplanes. So just because travel agencies and corporate booking tools, using antiquated systems provided by the GDSs, can’t provide business travelers and their corporations with the tools and systems they need to access and manage all the services that the business travelers are already accessing by hook or by crook today is not the fault of you, me, business travelers in general, or American Airlines for that matter. And over a year later, we are still hearing from the GDSs that they can today provide the airlines with all the systems they need to get all those services that you and me want as business travelers, they can’t. Well maybe they eventually can provide a non-interactive, non-personalized, non-traveler authenticated standardized catalogue listing of all those now commoditized airlines services that might be available to me for a price anywhere from $0.00 to whatever because the GDS don’t know who I am at the time of search/shop. That just doesn’t cut it. It’s not the way you and I—the business travelers—roll. We use smartphones and tablets and social sites and we want to be known and treated as though we are special… because remember every dollar you spend on us returns $12.50 in revenue back to the company.The airlines know who their customers are…not sure the GDS do.You can read our Full Transparency Statement here.This post is republished with permission from the Farelogix 'Ask The Question' blog.