Didn't overwhelming consumer outrage shoot this concept down a couple years ago? So where is the drum beat to allow airline passengers to make calls during flight coming from?
The Department of Transportation is accepting public comment on its new recommendation that in-flight calls made through the plane's Wi-Fi be allowed. What's new this time around is that permitting self-absorbed assholes to call all of their friends from the air would only be allowed if airlines tell all customers about the policy when they buy their tickets. That way, customers could make other travel arrangements if they feared sitting next to passengers that would be chatting for hours on their phones.
Other travel arrangements...like what? For many of us, flight is the only option. If it wasn't, we wouldn't be flying in the first place, given the cattle-car mentality that is so rampant in the American airline industry.
"Today's proposal will ensure that air travelers are not unwillingly exposed to voice calls, as many of them are troubled over the idea of passengers talking on cell phones in flight," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Again, if "so many are troubled" by the idea, WTF is behind this new attempt to further anger already angry travelers?
It's bad enough that Air Law 14 is so flagrently ignored in the terminal...
Luckily, most of the domestic carriers are siding with their customers and saying that, even if in-flight phoning gets the green light, they won't allow it.
Consumers don't want it. Airlines don't want it. Air Law 17 already dealt with it. I guess the folks in the Department of Transportation have nothing better to do with their time. Thus, they are obviously over staffed or poorly managed, because there are a ton of transportation issues facing this country that are significantly more important...and more likely to succeed.
Although I didn't think the Mall of America's decision to close on Thanksgiving was a "gamble" (as the Star-Tribune called it), it certainly is fun to have convention turned on its head.
Check out these results from MOA's gambit (a much better word):
• 250,000 shoppers flocked to the mall the day after Thanksgiving, the busiest day for the Mall in at least the last decade.
• Traffic was up 25 percent compared with the same day in 2015 and up 23 percent from 2014.
• More importantly, the Mall's traffic over the three days, from Friday to Sunday, was higher than its four-day traffic last year.
According to the article in the Star-Tribune: "It was the right decision, and we were glad that we made it," said Jill Renslow, the mall's senior vice president of marketing and business development. "We heard from people throughout the day — whether they were from out of town or from here in the metro — who were so supportive of the decision and wanted to support us."
Zigging when most zag? And, giving your most important asset (and your customers) a day with family?
The people that design travel experience are often the people that don't travel much.
How else can one explain an airline that automatically upgrades fliers to a middle seat in their "comfort" section when an aisle seat in steerage is the better choice?
Or, when signing in as a "elite" member of a hotel company produces fewer room choices (and higher rates) than when signing in as just a regular guy/girl?
Or, when the configuration of a hotel room is so not-consumer friendly that you hafta wonder whether the developers ever tested their design (by spending a night in it) before unleashing it on unsuspecting consumers.
It's truly mind boggling...and we see it almost every day. And, realize that most of the big travel companies aren't nearly as smart as we believe them to be.
Like so many communities impacted by Hurricane Matthew, Savannah is just coming back on line. Like so many other residents, our friends from Visit Savannah are making their way back to town. But, as they do, they'll have a little bit of inspiration thanks to the responses to a status post on Facebook.
CEO Joe Marinelli picks up the story:
"I wanted to share with you how inspired I am by .... people .... people in general. Sunday, after being "dark" the last few days, we posted a message on our social media sites from me. The numbers in just over six hours are amazing by themselves (1,200 likes and loves). But take a few minutes to read the (over 100) comments. They're incredible and a true testament to the human spirit (and, a day later, the post stood at 2,800 likes and loves).
"One of the lessons our team learned from watching our counterparts after Katrina is this: until you actually go through something like this, you can only do so much to be prepared. We were ready and our staff has handled it. And we will continue to do so over the coming days and weeks. But, I will use the commentary of our fans to inspire (yep, there's that word again) our team to rise up, even though they have been relocated from their homes for days and will come back to no electricity, destruction in their yards and neighborhoods and so much more."
While none of us wish the kind of crisis that precipitated the group hug that Savannah (and other destinations) has gotten post Matthew, it is a warm reminder that we all build amazing friends and fans by inviting people to our sensational communities through destination marketing.
The cookies, tags and pixels that marketers use to track online behavior can be a pretty sensational way to remind a potential customer that they stumbled upon (or were actively researching) your product, service or experience. We've all been served up ads from companies and destinations the day after visiting their site. Sometimes it's a welcome reminder. Sometimes not.
Etsy falls into the "not" category. Two years ago, I researched and purchased a hand-painted mailbox as a Christmas present. And, every couple of days since (for two years, now), I have received an e-mail showing me more hand-painted mailboxes.
Now...Etsy knows that I purchased a hand-painted mailbox either for myself or as a gift. And, unless Etsy believes I have a hand-painted mailbox fetish (which is less likely than me purchasing one for myself or a friend) or live in a neighborhood where mailboxes often fall prey to baseball bats and M80s, one would think that Etsy would start serving up something besides hand-painted mailboxes. N'est-ce pas?
A little information in the wrong hands, my friends, is a terrible thing to waste...as you can see from the selection I was served up the other day (click image to enlarge).
They are clearly smart enough to know I once showed an interest in a product...but not smart enough to avoid pissing me off every other day.
We always chuckle when someone opines that a particular market isn't big enough to pursue. Because, when we hear that, we instantly think of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by ski destinations and resorts on an activity in which only 4% of Americans participate.
Here's a new number: 19. That's the percent of Americans that used a Travel Agent last year. Yeah, one in five.
Just back (and I mean JUST back...like within 18 hours of check-out) from a conference, and I receive an e-mail survey from my hotel, asking about my experience. Which is great, as I love their interest in getting my reaction to the experience before I begin to forget.
But, some of the questions are just idiotic.
Have you told anybody about your experience? Who am I gonna tell in 18 hours (8 of which were just spent sleeping)? The shuttle driver? The gate agent at the airport? My seat meat on the plane? Terri?
But, that's not the dumbest question. The survey goes on to ask whether the hotel and staff exceeded my expectations on a 5 point scale with 3 being "met expectations."
This is possibly the most useless question that any business can ask because there is absolutely no frame of reference.
The hotel is clearly hoping for a "5" on all aspects of my stay. And, if I stayed in two or three hotels a year, I might given them those coveted "5s." But, I stay in a lot of hotels. And, while my stay was quite nice, thank you...it was expected. Thus, I answered the survey with "3s," which will probably make somebody at corporate nuts.
But, my "3s" are like a virgin's "5." Except, there's no way for them to know that because they didn't bother to ask a qualifying question to better understand to whom they were talking. Thus, the answers they harvest mean nothing.
It is sadly rare when someone from outside the destination marketing sector can actually see, understand and articulate what we attempt to accomplish for our respective communities each and every day.
And, like when one experiences insanely great customer service and can't wait to tell everyone they know, I'm urging everyone to read this editorial by Marshall Helmberger of the Timberjay newspapers in Northern Minnesota.
He absolutely nails why tourism is more than heads in beds, seasonal jobs and marginal wages.
If only other members of the media could possess as sophisticated a view of what really matters in our communities.
Located in Northern Wisconsin, Minocqua is a tourist town. And, while some of my favorite experiences and events "up nort" have come after the crowds have departed, this town is packed with visitors all summer long.