Tag Archives: business

Skiplagged Sends Airlines to Hell

This week seems to be all about airlines and flight industry.

From Skiplagged website:

Update: Dec 30, Skiplagged is facing significantly higher than normal traffic. Please try again later if you encounter any issues–you will be amazed. Thanks.

The odds that you had heard about Skiplagged before Orbitz & United Airlines sued them last November are quite slim. After that, their visitor count has skyrocketed through the roof. Sometimes all publicity is good publicity.

Lesson #1: Getting sued is a great way for free promotion

Skiplagged effectively helps you to find cheap flights by using “hidden city ticketing”. The direct flight from Singapore to Helsinki can be more expensive than the flight from Singapore to Paris with stopover in Helsinki. Then you just hop over in Helsinki and just don´t use the last flight. This is only recommend to one-way flights because usually your ticket is cancelled afterwards. I have not (yet) tried out hidden-city ticketing, but I have done throwaway ticketing once. It just feels completely odd that if you want to travel one-way you have to pay double the price of return ticket. Actually when I did it, I did not even know that it was not approved. Aktarer Zaman, the founder of Skiplagged explains:

When you are searching for tickets, your market is just to go from this city to this city to this city. And you are shown a price. You are buying this flight when you are buying a ticket. So this is a service you are buying in. Consumers should have the right to partially use the services they buy.

I agree to most extend with the sentiment in here: when you buy something you should also decide not to use it. Not to mention that sometimes you are forced to not use the flights. There are certain arguments that using these loopholes in large scale might increase the costs of airline travel. It might also hurt smaller airline destinations as well. Eventually I feel it is quite fair game though. Airlines try to maximize the money out of us; meanwhile we are doing the opposite. In the bigger picture I think they are in better position to screw us over.

Lesson #2: Digital makes your business model eventually more transparent

Doing different airline booking ploys has been around longer than Skiplagged, but it naturally has done it faster and more effective. Exploiting these loopholes is definitely not illegal, but in can result in losing your loyalty program points. Based on the increased interest to Skiplagged and rising popularity of budget airlines this does not seem to be the a big concern for the majority of users. Consumers are not essentially stupid and millions of loyalty programs and cards have just led to more disloyalty. Also it has lead to increased focus on price especially with airlines.

I was just talking with one friend who mentioned that even with their corporate discounts with major commercial airline, it is still cheaper for the company to fly short-haul with budget airlines. And so they are doing. Consumers are doing the same. Flying has become so commoditized that you do not really care what airline you are flying if is deemed relatively safe.

Lesson #3: Price trumps the loyalty for the majority of consumers

After the lawsuit, Aktarer Zaman put up a crowdfunding-site up to cover up the upcoming legal bills. He has already raised over 60k. The response has been overwhelmingly positive for Skiplagged and quite vicious towards the airlines. One person donated $666 dollars and commented: “send them to hell”.

Lesson #4: People hate airlines

It is interesting to see how this will pan out, but again this a manifestation that no business is “safe” from digitalization. If there is a market fault, it is just easier and faster to point it out and also solve it digitally. That might create a totally new business as well. In the case of Skiplagged, it will be a zero-sum game. Either one will win. Time will tell will the Skiplagged send airlines to hell or will they sue Skiplagged to death.

Lesson #5: Always keep evolving

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What is Stand-up Strategy?

First of all, I am quite sure that I have not come with the term myself. I must have heard it somewhere. Do not remember whom, so I just stole it as a name for my blog. If you are offended, then poor luck. This is advertising after all.

Stand-up strategy does not mean that it is necessarily funny, although you have to have certain kind of humor to be in this business.

Instead for me stand-up strategy is about these five things:

1. Standing up instead of sitting down.

Marketing strategists and planners have got themselves in trap.

We, as a profession, have been on a road to just become poor man´s management consultants. We have tried to complicate things, instead of simplifying them. We have estimated our value of the number of slides we have made or how thorough creative brief we have done. Those things do not matter.Only thing that matters is the quality of the work and the bottom line of the company.

We have to get out from the computer to meet the people, find the insights and understand the behavior of the people who might someday be the customers.

So get of your seat and start doing things.

2. Intuition and point-of-view is what separates you from others.

Google has replaced the average planners.

There was a time when information was scarce and planner could make himself worthwhile by just having the access to information. Those days are long gone. Information is abundant and nearly everyone has the access to the same information channels.

That is why the Planner has to stand up and tell also what he feels and what is his point-of-view.  Not saying that there is a shortcut for digesting all the information. We have to do our homework more than ever.

Read blogs, magazines, books.Watch movies, tv & documentaries. Talk with colleagues, peers, consumers & influenceres.

But those are just starting point. Having the information is only about competitiveness of today´s planner. Competitive advantage comes from your point-of-view. That is the biggest asset you have and you have to cultivate it.

After careful evaluation of all the information & data, act on your gut-feeling.

3. Planning is translating business to creativity.

Planning is a service function. You provide the springboard for creatives for the creative leap. You help account executives to sell more. Only thing tangible what is left from our work is well-performing company financially and creatively. People can live with incomplete creative brief, but they cannot leave with incomplete creative product.

Good planner is a bipolar person. He gots kicks out of creativity. He also gots kick out the business side of things. Usually he has had a hand on both of these crafts. Planning is the most rewarding but the least-respected craft in advertising. Are you ready to take on the task?

Do not trust planner who has not sold a project or not done an ad. 

4. Combining insight & behavior is the key to the success.

How many fresh new insights have there been in beer category lately?

It is still crucial to find the soul of the brand and go as deep to the customer´s head as possible. However, you cannot just push your message nowadays and hope to spark some kind of emotion. You have to lure your brand to everyday life of the people. I do not understand the separation between traditional and digital planners. If planner does not understand digital channels nowadays, he or she should be out of job. And same goes to otherwise, knowing all the latest social media channels is worthless if you do not have the knowledge of the good old art of persuasion. Even though technology has evolved we as a people are driven by quite simple things. Such things as sex, greed & jealousy.

You have to know how customer feels and how he behaves.

5.We have to reinvent this whole ad agency stuff.

I hate silos. That is why this whole departmental thinking of account-creative-planning is quite absurd for me. Our business is quite simple if you think about. We are on the quest of finding the emotional connection of the brand and consumer, which on the long run will concretize in the cash register.

Lee Clow put it great:

“We’re supposed to be a creative business, but I think we have been probably the least creative industry in the history of the world in terms of figuring out how to get paid.”

We have to think about deeper how we operate and how we make profit in the future. The collaborator who works closest with the brand, will be succeeding in the future. Will it be an advertising agency is left to be seen?

Learn the history, to know all the rules you are going to break.

These are my rules and if you do not like them I have some others as well.

From this standpoint I will be writing my observation from the industry and the future of planning and advertising as well. Welcome aboard.

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