Every modern year, 4.5 billion people take to the skies. While huge numbers of people enjoy flying – making it the sixth largest industry in the world – air travel in developed countries has become repetitive and unaffordable for almost all but the richest or most sophisticated customers. Airlines therefore increasingly find themselves forced to find new ways to fill up their aircraft, such as selling on-board seats to the highest bidder. Taking this approach, Martin Schwenker, CEO of Amsterdam-based regional airline Freedom Tours, found that his American clientele were far more comfortable being flown by a woman than a man. “They just said, if we had a choice of seeing a girl or a boy in the airplane, it would make a tremendous difference for us. It’s almost like they have gender and sexual preferences,” Schwenker says.
This coincided with a shift toward more intensive product options in which that gender distinction was at least implied. Think of the snazzy First Class seating in Virgin Atlantic Airways or Virgin Australia, with its kind of pale pink bathrooms. Only the wealthiest, most affluent of passengers would ever be able to afford premium fares and most people would get a tour of the luxury as a perk. Privately owned airlines in the U.S. are starting to implement an idea proposed by Schwenker and called the Single Agent model, which would eliminate the traditional hierarchy of ticketing and prompt the passenger to use a single agent to deal with their entire flight, instead of having to go through several different agents, as it currently stands.
Passengers buy tickets online (or at kiosks) and a single agent checks them in at the boarding gate. Other agents assume the passenger is already pre-sold into a particular cabin, be it a Premium Economy seat or a business class seat. “We are closing all the holes,” says
Schwenker and Vieux-sur-Airport are also working on developing a new kind of travel booking experience, called G2K , where individual travel agents or shops (depending on the airline), could offer bespoke journeys for their customers, starting with one or two flight options and then adding in upgrades or a given dining option. But G2K would not be a purely transport related idea, but a travel theme involving two or more places at one time (ie, “tourism”). “We are going to start with a launch theme — for example, a theme of creativity,” says Vieuux-sur-Airport.
Read the full story at Bloomberg
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