Comfortable air travel or the lowest possible price?

Posted by David Meerman Scott 05:03 AM on October 20, 2008

Like most people, I'm on hundreds of email lists. I get dozens of "marketing" emails a day from organizations I support and companies I do business with. You probably do too.

Most of the content of these "opt-in" emails are just a bunch of advertising. You know, things like:

- 10% off your entire order!
- Free shipping!
- Two for the price of one!
- Act now while supplies last!
- Available until Friday only!

Very few of the companies I do business with send me anything of value, especially the six or eight airlines I get email from. The airlines are always bugging me with "sale prices," "special offers," "vacation packages," and other crap. The airlines just don't get that someone who travels nearly 150,000 miles a year for business doesn't book travel based on price and special offers.

I was surprised and delighted last week when American Airlines actually send me some interesting information via email. I am a Platinum AA customer now and will likely go over the threshold to become the highest level, Executive Platinum, (100,000 miles) by the end of the year. That’s a lot of travel making me one of their best customers.


The email I got announced American Airlines plans to acquire 42 new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

That's actually a big deal because Boeing designed the 787 Dreamliner from the passenger perspective, thinking that people will book travel based on the plane. That's exactly what I do (and what other frequent travelers do too). When you're in the air as many hours as I am (about 300 hours a year) comfort is the most important thing -- more important than price, special deals, and other things.

Boeing photo

The American Airlines email said:
"Boeing's Dreamliner aircraft offers a new level of comfort for our passengers. It features improved air and water purification systems, as well as new humidification techniques and lower cabin pressure, which are expected to reduce passenger fatigue. In addition, the 787 advanced engine design provides a quieter operation, with an expected noise footprint 60 percent smaller than other aircraft of similar size, benefiting those in the air as well as those on the ground. The plane's lower overall weight and improved design means we also will reduce our impact on the environment by burning less fuel. The 787 aircraft also has the largest overhead bins in the industry – approximately 30 percent larger than comparable aircraft bins. The large 19-inch windows are designed to make the cabin feel more spacious."

I'm amazed at how often companies send press releases to the media but fail to inform their customers of important news. In this example, American Airlines did send a press release about the new aircraft, but they were also smart enough to alert their frequent travelers.

Yes, the airline industry has problems. But if the marketers focus on buyer personas, such as business travelers, create products that we want to buy, and communicate intelligently, then they will make it through these tough times.

How are you using your permission marketing assets? Are you using it to advertise in a lame attempt to drum up sales?

Or are you sending valuable and welcome information to your customers?

David Meerman Scott

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