Decommoditising Air Travel
Low cost airlines did a great thing for all of us: they applied a strong downward pressure on prices, and you benefit from it even if you never fly Ryanair.
But, on the other hand, some may say they somehow commodified the airline industry. Deviating from the cost leaders in terms of service may be a risky strategy when it is not clear whether customers are ready to pay more.
After all, many passengers look, first and foremost, at price when considering flying options. Other considerations may be factored in later.
It does not help differentiation that all airlines fly but a handful of aircraft models and, technologically speaking, the choices are limited.
Yet, there are airlines trying to sell a differentiated product...the question for those is: when this happens, are there appropriate channels in place to communicate this differentiation to the customers?
Some information is available if you know how to look for it, but, let's say that most digital sales channels provide very little info when it comes to airline product attributes (type of seats, inflight amenities, etc.)
This is something that RouteHappy, Airbus and four large airlines that take pride in their service excellence, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, want to change.
RouteHappy collects qualitative information about airline's products and services and has developed its own rating system to value the level of service on different flights and airlines. It has been doing this for years and, while until now this was quite a niche segment of the market, there is a chance this partnership would make it more mainstream.
It will find a competitor of sorts in Tripadvisor, the travel review company is expanding also into the airline market - wonder why it took them so long!. Will see whether it is as successful as it has been in the hotel market.
In any case, airlines better be nice to passengers!