Successful airlines are likely to be those which anticipate change and are ready for it when it occurs. Unsuccessful carriers tend to be those which wait for change to happen and then try to catch up with it.
It emphasizes that marketing decisions cannot be made in isolation. Instead, all decisions are linked, with the ability to make tradeoffs between them in order to optimize the overall result for the firm an absolutely crucial skill.
They make their existence clear by reporting for flights and their requirements and preferences can be analyzed using questionnaires . They are therefore usually given a great deal of attention by those responsible for Marketing in the airline business.
Example 1: executives might present a case to their boss that a business trip should be undertaken, only to find that the necessary expenditure is not sanctioned. Instead, they are told to use, say, the phone, email or video-conferencing as a way of conducting the business in question. In such a situation the true “Customer” for the airlines might be the firm’s CEO or VP-Finance.
Example 2: For leisure travelers, the impact of surface transport competition is likely to be great. Besides competition on service quality, surface operators will be able to challenge airlines on price, with both train and bus services likely to become increasingly significant. The “Customer” in such a situation might be the family member who has most influence in travel decisions.
In order to maximize the amount of high yielding traffic available to them, carriers will have to target those who make decisions about Corporate Travel policies. They will, in particular, have to persuade these people that the benefits of buying travel in the premium cabins of the aircraft – for example, that these cabins allow better opportunities for sleep or work – outweigh the very substantially higher prices that are charged for access to them.
The objective of a firm’s marketing policies should be to meet the needs of its Customers, at a profit . We now have to deal with the problem that in one very real sense, this ideal objective is often unobtainable .
In Europe for example, still over 80% of business travelers are men, whilst the average age of those who travel on business is in the early forties.
In Europe and North America, though, radical change is beginning to occur. Women are becoming much more important in business travel, with forecasts suggesting that by the year 2010 perhaps 25-30% of all business travel will be undertaken by women.