When was the last time you had a great experience flying? It's almost a laughable question, like asking when the last time you had a blast at the dentist. But what about the last time you had a great stay at a hotel? Probably not that long ago, even if you stay at relatively cheap places. Hotels tend to be perceived as welcoming, accommodating, and comfortable. Airlines, on the other hand, are uncaring, unforgiving, and even openly hostile. Why?
You might argue that airlines face a host of challenges - like Federal Aviation Administration requirements, weather delays, and volatile gas prices - and you would be absolutely right. But that's just tough, and I find the our industry is too difficult to not suck at what we do argument to be unpersuasive.
Strip away the excuses and you're left with the fact that airlines focus exclusively on their bottom line while hotels focus on creating champions for their brand and earning their customers' loyalty by delivering a great experience with every visit.
The good news for the airlines is that the bar is set so low that travelers are going to notice any significant improvement in the experience and service they receive. As in any industry, the first step in that process must be to tune in to their customers and listen to what they have to say.
So, is your company a hotel or an airline?