Conferences help companies rip off customers without losing them

By | September 8th, 2008

If you thought airlines weren’t following a secret playbook when they dumped a truckload of new fees on you this year — if you thought all of this was just part of their corporate DNA — then you might want to think again.

It turns out there are places where travel companies go to learn this stuff. Two upcoming conferences help the travel industry invent and apply new fees and then give them the tools to convince customers that this kind of corporate behavior — and the new surcharges in particular — are good.

The first is the Ancillary Revenue in Travel conference, which is part of the Travel Distribution Summit North America conference. The meeting is designed to help travel companies understand the “challenges and opportunities of adding high margin ancillary products to boost your profits.”

How is it possible for European LLC Ryanair to squeeze an extra €7 from every customer and grow revenues by 18%? Low Cost Carriers globally have discovered the high margins that ancillary products offer, now it’s your turn to take a cut of the profits.

Ancillary revenue is on the rise and incorporating it into your business model is essential to the growth of your business. First quarter reports showed ancillary revenue profits to get excited about, second quarter reports showed you unbelievable stats that you just cannot ignore.

The conclusion is clear: ancillary revenue works! But with new regulations in Europe and the complexity of integrating partners offering it can be a minefield to offer these high margin products.

If that doesn’t make your stomach turn, this will. The Worldwide Airline Customer Relations Association, a trade group for customer-relations workers in the airline industry, is holding a conference that makes the perfect companion to the revenue-enhancing event. It helps customer-relations managers make the fees go down easier.

Among the speakers is Tom Murphy of New York’s Fordham University, who promises to help airlines achieve what he calls the “Resiliency Edge.”

His research into the impact of stress on airline employees has led him to develop a practical, hands-on program which gives front-line workers the tools to manage stress and deal with difficult situations.

Nothing against Murphy, but surely some of these “difficult” situations include passengers who are upset that they have to pay extra for anything that isn’t bolted down on the plane.

In an perfect world, no one would attend a conference that gives companies ideas on how to deceive and infuriate their customers. In a perfect world, a meeting of airline customer service managers would prominently feature a customer advocate like Kate Hanni.

Needless to say, this is isn’t a perfect world.

(Thanks to Alan for the tip.)

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