Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Collapse Of An Industry 

It is not overstatement to say the airline industry has collapsed. It is hard to think of what more could go wrong other than an increase in accidents. Fuel costs, ticket prices, over-booking, bad seating, lousy service, huge losses, unhappy employees, late departures and arrivals, the industry has it all.

So, what are the industry's public relations? For most carriers, the goal is survival -- i.e. keeping enough customers satisfied that the businesses can continue. For other carriers, the goal is combination because they have given up hope of making it on their own. There is little one can say in circumstances like this.

The first goal of PR should be to provide decent service -- something many carriers cannot do. In fact, they have deliberately lowered expectations by charging for food, charging for more comfortable seating in coach, charging for extra baggage, monetizing everything they can touch. There is little left of passenger accommodation other than departing and arriving at a destination. Third World carriers do as much.

It must be difficult to work in PR at an airline. Some problems the industry has brought onto itself. Others like fuel costs have been imposed. Airline executives can be forgiven in thinking there is no way out of the mess they are in. Their customers are justified in expressing dark thoughts about the treatment they are getting. I'm not sure what a PR person could write about the industry at the moment. Acknowledging the mess is not the first step in fixing it because it isn't going to be fixed in present marketplace circumstances. Perhaps the best PR can say is that we understand what is happening to customers, but customers are going to have to learn to endure. Not much of a message, is it?

See "How to make Lemonade from Lemons", airlines.

It should be interesting to see the creativity behind the struggling industry and the respective companies therein in trying to lure back trust.

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