Every year Eye For Travel organizes its annual Travel Distribution Summit to discuss leading trends and practices within the travel industry. This years distinguished list of speakers and their subject matters included:
Monica Sullivan, VP Advertising, Caesars Entertainment
Understanding emerging trends and opportunities in the online travel sector
Beth Murphy, VP Global Product, Travelocity
Location aware experiences seen as a “game-changing” phenomenon in the travel sector
Edward Perry, Senior Director, E-Commerce, Worldhotels
Creating an Internal Social Media Strategy That Works
Robert Dawson, VP Internet Marketing & Web Development, Sabre Hospitality Solutions
What will be the ‘Next Big Thing’ in mobile for the travel industry?
Doug Miller, SVP New Business Initiatives, LivingSocial
Assessing the latest trends in the social buying category
Gareth Gaston, SVP Global eCommerce, Wyndham Hotel Group
Integrating e-commerce into a hotel’s overall business strategy
Observation: With such a distinguished list of industry leaders one would expect their strategic focus might be in alignment with what the traveler (buyer) wants, needs and desires. Obviously the subject matters were strategic to the supplier but were they systemicly important to the customer experience of “travel”?
Note that most of the speakers subjects represented “hotels, deals and social media” with no real representation from the airline industry. After all the entire travel experience starts with getting somewhere to experience that somewhere.
Travel is a system. If getting somewhere and back is a miserable experience then it reduces the joy of having fun being and staying somewhere different. Just my opinion.
What About The Airline Customer?
The same week that the Eye for Travel event was being held the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “Flight of Fantasy: For Vacation, Some Fliers Play Airline”. A summary of the article is below.
Topping the frequent-flier wish list was space—more legroom, an empty middle seat and affordable upgrades to first class. They want priority check-in and security lines, early boarding so they have overhead bin space for bags, waivers for baggage fees and plentiful opportunities for upgrades.
Road warriors often know more about airline service and policies than airline executives themselves. United’s managing director of customer solutions, Scott O’Leary, flew with the group on part of its trip. “Watching them be very innovative in how they sell seats is extremely interesting,” Mr. O’Leary says.
Both J.D. Power and Associates and Michigan’s American Consumer Satisfaction Index show that airlines rank near the bottom of U.S. industries in terms of customer satisfaction. Baggage fees are a major complaint. Other factors affect satisfaction—uncomfortable seating, unfriendly employees, delays, cancellations and long lines. Business travelers are less satisfied than leisure travelers, both surveys found.
The very reason we choose to create Social Flights was to go beyond the travelers expectation and create an alternative way to fly that brings “social” to a higher level. While our “system” is being developed our vision remains the same, air travel without all the hassles.