Market research... or Marketing?

Old Apr 30, 05, 3:23 am
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Market research... or Marketing?

First, my apologies for the delay in my response. Sometimes work interferes with my real life.

Second, my apologies to anyone offended by my recent use of the word "compliant." It was not my intention to affix that label to anyone, but only to suggest that AC would have preferences in dealing with some people rather than others. More particularly, someone less "troublesome" than me. Perhaps it would have been better had I used that word instead. Nevertheless, on to the subject at hand.

I read with interest Shareholder's recent thread about Drug companies free travel scams exposed in NATIONAL POST series with some interest and intrigue. There seemed to be some debate about whether it was proper or not, particularly with regard to government officials and those in the medical profession. But it seemed generally accepted that though not commonplace, it was not unusual for businesses to attempt to curry favour with potential customers or persons of influence (i.e. the doctor who can recommend one treatment over another, or the government official who might vote for one supplier over another). They might do that any number of ways... from hockey or basketball tickets, free trips, meals, golf or other amusements, and so on.

My own take is that in most cases this is perfectly acceptable, and indeed, good practice, in promoting your business or product. Like others, I have some concerns where the target might be someone who doesn't have a direct interest, but may affect the interests of others. A doctor that prescribes less than the best product for his patient, the government official that gives a contract to a firm that offered some benefit, or maybe a financial advisor who recommends a questionable product because they themselves have a financial interest. All of these situations, and perhaps others, might make one think twice about it. But in most business to business or even business to customer transactions the practice is perfectly acceptable. I might even pick up 20K Hilton HHonors points by simply attending a "presentation" here at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Same deal. You give me a freebie, and maybe I think more positively about giving you USD $17K for a time-share in Honolulu. So generally, like most people in that other thread, I don't have a problem with it.

So I guess it shouldn't be a surprise if Air Canada engaged in similar activities. In fact, one might make the case that they would be remiss if they didn't use this type of marketing technique. Perhaps they could offer a free meal, some simulator/adventure time, or maybe even a free pair of headphones. And to top it off, they could even offer personal access to some significant and interesting people -- maybe the senior execs at an airline, who profoundly shape they way they travel.

I'm guessing this is starting to sound at least a little familiar. Seems to me events just like this have recently occurred, and are likely to occur again in the near future. With FlyerTalkers even.

And why would that matter? Because FlyerTalkers are people of influence. Their opinions are sought out, and often the affect the actions of others. Don't believe me?

When Doug or Keith MacArthur needed the scoop on a breaking air travel story, where did they turn to for first hand info? Or how 'bout Susan Pigg of the much disparaged Toronto Star, when she wanted to get the scoop on a breaking story. And how many threads have been started by reporters looking for someone with some travel info. (Geez, now that I think about it, I even got published in the G&M.)

And when friends, family, relatives and co-workers of FlyerTalkers, particularly SEs and the like, who do they first turn to for information and advice?

Clearly, the opinions of FlyerTalkers carry a lot more weight than your average bear, even if that bear is seated in Business Class. And if you can influence those opinion leaders to have a more positive or more charitable outlook about your business, or airline, then why not?

Clearly, looking at the responses to past AC hosted/supported "do"s, the opinions were virtually unanimous and generous, complimentary, and to AC's benefit and credit. Everyone lauded them.

Even me, though I might not have posted such... but for much different reasons. Certainly allowing your customers access to senior decision-makers is commendable. But I also laud them for their savvy marketing practices. Just like the drug companies that started this debate in another thread, AC is offering perks, free perks, to influence the feelings and opinions of opinion leaders. As they should.

So in that light, would it be unreasonable for them to want to concentrate their limited resources in areas and on people where the effect could best be had? Certainly not, in my view. To do otherwise would be a waste of time and money both, valuable resources in short supply.

Those who've been around FT for awhile know that I've been a pretty regular critic of AC. Incessant almost, though I maintain they deserved every criticism I've pointed at them. But clearly I have a reputation. And I have no doubt that reputation is known by people at AC.

So if I were running the AC do's, would I invite a prick like me? Not a chance! While I might make an interesting challenge, offering me perks such as those previously tendered in the hopes that I might recant and make an overnight transformation would be the proverbial "throwing good money after bad."

Have no doubt, I can certainly be influenced. But I already eat enough airline meals, and I already have a good pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones. I'd just as soon AC gave them to someone else more appreciative of them. As for simulator time... well, I already lead a pretty interesting, and at times, exciting, life. I've done many things that most people only ever see on TV or in the movies. So yeah, some simulator time would be fun. But even that, I would prefer be given to someone who would enjoy it and value it more than I.

So should it be a surprise that AC might prefer another attendee other than me? Moreover, should I be surprised if that was the case? Nope. Not at all.

Having said that, it would appear that my "application" got lost in cyberspace (to use the phrase of another FTer) and had nothing to do with AC's "selection" process. But perhaps you can understand now why I might ask if AC would prefer a more compliant, er... scratch that, a less troublesome attendee.

What I crave is access to, and hopefully influence upon, those who can make my travel life more or less enjoyable, acceptable, tolerable. That's the real reason I might like to attend a do. Even then, having access that influences is a long shot.

But long shots are my forte.
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Old Apr 30, 05, 6:25 am
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[QUOTE=Ken hAAmer]
Second, my apologies to anyone offended by my recent use of the word "compliant."
It was quite offensive, so apology accepted.

It was not my intention to affix that label to anyone, but only to suggest that AC would have preferences in dealing with some people rather than others. More particularly, someone less "troublesome" than me.
Wrong, the preferences were never enunciated or demanded;space quickly became an issue and even more so when AC double checked the space they have available for the Q&A session. They forgot to add their own people when calculatiing the space they have available. As for being troublesome we had some of those types at previous events and DO's and I felt AC were adult enough to handle them professionally. You are not unique in that area as there are those who prefer to ***** rather than be proactive in suggesting that AC can do things better. It takes all types to make a world.

But it seemed generally accepted, that, though not commonplace, it was not unusual for businesses to attempt to curry favour with potential customers or persons of influence
Ah, but in this case it is the customer who has volunteered to attend a function, at significant dollar cost to some, and while there give their feedback and to ride a simulator as a gift from AC. Is AC currying favour with these good customers. Of course they are, but it is a quid per pro and we as FT'ers are stimulating a FT DO by adding a feature to it. There was a similar CO FT DO just recently. The airline, with one security exception, has not picked the attendees but has obvious interest in more seasoned travellers who can provide them with open and honest feedback while the FT members get to suggest better ways of being served or find out why their pet peeve is not acted upon. Good Give and take IMO. Remember most people are quite passionate about their airline of choice and in this case we have, in effect, our national carrier who we(at least I would) would like to be proud of.


Clearly, looking at the responses to past AC hosted/supported "DO"s, the opinions were virtually unanimous and generous, complimentary, and to AC's benefit and credit. Everyone lauded them.
There were some negative responses attached to each "DO" by some attendees and no one is being muffled. At each previous DO I invited some non FT'ers in the hope that they would shed some fresh opinions on things and get to hear about FT as well. This did not work well at the YYZ DO as the Q&A was dominated by a very few people who effectively shut out the rest of us from asking our questions or proclaiming our differences with AC. We have decided to moderate(a terrible word in these parts ) this DO so that everyone gets a good opportunity to speak about their pet peeves or likes with AC. I have invited one of AC's top five fliers who is not an FT'er but is now going to lurk and possibly join in the circus. Again, the purpose is to promote, and hopefully "freshen up" the opinions we give here.



So if I were running the AC do's, would I invite a prick like me?
Maybe the consensus of several FT'ers as to your presence is the likely scenario. Some would think you might be too vocal and not give everyone else a fair chance to give their opinions. AC certainly did not try and influence who comes, other than asking to have real travellers, but you are clearly well known to them .


So should it be a surprise that AC might prefer another attendee other than me? Moreover, should I be surprised if that was the case? Nope. Not at all.
True, but not the case in fact.

Having said that, it would appear that my "application" got lost in cyberspace (to use the phrase of another FTer) and had nothing to do with AC's "selection" process. But perhaps you can understand now why I might ask if AC would prefer a more compliant, er... scratch that, a less troublesome attendee.
Again I say BS. For one thing you did apply while I was on an unvolunteered vacation from FT due to some incessant complaining about my ability to express my opinions openly and honestly.(The over zealous use of mods by the owner of the board board comes to mind along with some whiners.) Secondly, both the member,who admits to having had some email problems, you sent your request to and myself who was in India with a faulty hard drive clearly did not communicate thouroughly enough. I did,somehow, manage to lose several dozen emails during this sojourn with HD hell. Add to that the fact I'm not your favorite poster and on your ignore list, for which I thank you BTW, and, voila we had a problem. Therefore,since you clearly dislike my posts here, should I really have gone out of my way to ensure you got a place. Human nature does enter into situations and while I like to think of myself as very very opinionated and vocal about those opinions, I also like to think I'm not prejudiced or bigoted. Some will again disagree but I digress. I do these things only and simply because I like what FT has done for my travel experience and the fact I have met some truly dedicated senior AC people (and very interesting FT'ERs) who want to improve that experience even further. I also have the time, since I do not commute to work, to dedicate to the organization of these DO's. I clearly enjoy the interactive meetings of people who travel a lot as I have done for well over 30 years.
Once the list had filled up you were on a waiting list that has not materialized due to the further space limitations placed on us by AC. We are down to 26 people from the planned 30 originally.

What I crave is access to, and hopefully influence upon, those who can make my travel life more or less enjoyable, acceptable, tolerable. That's the real reason I might like to attend a do. Even then, having access that influences is a long shot.
We all crave access to a certain degree but to take that craving to an incessant level can deprive others, in a public forum, of the ability to achieve their goals and have their voices added to the multitude of opinions we get to hear and experience.

But long shots are my forte
Then do as I did and buy ACE shares

The dinner DO following the AC event is open to all FT'ers BTW and I clearly hope you'll choose to show up for that.......but please make those plans known in advance to LEE CARNEY so we can put you on another wait list.......JUST KIDDING

Last edited by parnel; Apr 30, 05 at 6:44 am
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Old Apr 30, 05, 8:41 am
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There are many levels and 'issues' here but I think AC is simply getting better at the business of business. When its executives are willing to transact directly with the 'uncontrolled internet mass' they risk some messiness but nothing like the disaster they ran into a few years ago when they used heavy-handed methodologies to try to shut down "errorplan.com" Here, marketing and market research connect in real time dialogue and debate (and some stupidity)

I'm working on a scambusting project on another, totally unrelated, forum. The motivation for my involvement there is a combination of satisfaction of giving the scammers a real run for their money AND developing my business through very inexpensive advertising. The point is that many things can be happening at the same time -- and businesses are getting smarter at linking their internet presence with real client connections and marketing. AC may simply be getting it right.
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Old Apr 30, 05, 8:58 am
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Originally Posted by Ken hAAmer

Having said that, it would appear that my "application" got lost in cyberspace (to use the phrase of another FTer) and had nothing to do with AC's "selection" process.
Ken, I am not sure of you are referring to me here. I remember mentioning "cyberspace" but not "application". "Application" has a connatation I do not like in these circumstances, it maybe semantics, but I would like to think that people were not applying for anything here.

I am not a particularly techno savvy person, I was having email troubles, I changed email servers, and managed to lose some info along the way. That, coupled with Parnel sentence and loss of emails as well caused you to fall through the cracks, which in itself should be difficult given your self description
I offer you my apology for my part in your not coming to the AC event, I do hope that you make it to the dinner. It would be nice to meet you, I am sure that the other FTers who have not met you, would like to put a person to the name of a good author.
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Old Apr 30, 05, 9:44 am
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Originally Posted by marbuck
The point is that many things can be happening at the same time -- and businesses are getting smarter at linking their internet presence with real client connections and marketing. AC may simply be getting it right.
My exact point for attempting these DO's. The open and mostly "ad lib" interaction is good for both customer and service provider simply because its getting very difficult for any management to hide under a rock these days.

The management team we've met at AC are certainly up for the challenge and very eager to sop up their customers opinions and give their feedback to us. I think "Tango plus" is the outcome of such feedback. And I know of other projects that are underway at AC based on live feedback from FT members. The amount of staff time and effort they are putting in to meet with us certainly makes a believer out of me. I don't really think most of us here are fully aware of their efforts to interact with this community.

Management are doing their part as well to ensure that AC employees are able to put themselves in the customer's shoes and that is,for me anyway, the best way for them to provide a quality service oriented airline and make money at the same time. I would even like to see more of these DO's where front line staff like concierges and FA's are present, or joint meetings with Airport authorities, government, AC and ourselves and I think that day may hopefully come sooner than later.

FT'ers are targetted because we simply know a lot,expect a lot, and are not afraid or shy about our positions which are "mostly" constructive and logical.

AC has,for their part, been open and willing to explain their business case for doing or not certain things that we as customers want.....or don't want.

Even though a "FT DO" is open to all the AC event part of a "DO" is better done with a smaller number of people that come from this community at large on a more or less random basis. The feedback gets well reported here for all to read and we solicit opinions from those not attending to bring with us to the event. There is no intent to make these "elitist" as I've been accused of doing.
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Old Apr 30, 05, 10:25 am
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Originally Posted by Ken hAAmer
Second, my apologies to anyone offended by my recent use of the word "compliant." It was not my intention to affix that label to anyone, but only to suggest that AC would have preferences in dealing with some people rather than others. More particularly, someone less "troublesome" than me. Perhaps it would have been better had I used that word instead.
I think that would have been commendable.

However, do you view yourself as significantly more ...troublesome than PunishedEdmontonian and why fly ?

Heck, I even risked my life in a simulator with PE (and of note, the rear seat was not secured so I rolled back and hit the rear wall as he took off!)

Simon
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Old Apr 30, 05, 10:57 am
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Originally Posted by Ken hAAmer
Those who've been around FT for awhile know that I've been a pretty regular critic of AC. Incessant almost, though I maintain they deserved every criticism I've pointed at them. But clearly I have a reputation. And I have no doubt that reputation is known by people at AC.

So if I were running the AC do's, would I invite a prick like me? Not a chance! While I might make an interesting challenge, offering me perks such as those previously tendered in the hopes that I might recant and make an overnight transformation would be the proverbial "throwing good money after bad."
Point one: When something is obviously wrong, it is right to speak out. If AC doesn't like it, then they should do something to correct the matter, other than using heavy-handed techniques to silence the voice of dissent.
Point two: AC most likely is 100 percent aware of who you are, and your position on things. However, from what I have seen re certain other FT posters, they are scared sh*tless of you. Amazing how thier spines turn into over-cooked noodles when they are dealing with high-profile (not level... I have seen many quieter sorts get treated like crap) frequent fliers, while kicking Joe Q Public in the head with impunity.
Point three: They sure as hell would not want a critic anywhere near one of their public gatherings, not so much as punishment to the individual, but for fear of public embarassment. You should have seen how the manager of my division came running to a mandatory meeting with one VP at top speed when she realized that I would be attending it (2nd session, mandatory attendance), and sat there throughout the whole thing, basically keeping me under guard. No embarassing questions were to get through! Actually, did manage to make the VP look a little stupid, but not on the hot topic they were so frightened about. At that time, I was just starting to unearth things, and it hadn't yet crossed my mind as to what sort of a golden oportunity was right in front of my face. Later on, trust me, all senior VPs etc... were kept far away from me.
The basic point, my friend, is: speak your mind freely, and if the folks at AC don't like it, it's becuase they know full well that you have a point. If they are hiding from you, it's because they are chicken-sh*t. Don't take it personally.
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Old Apr 30, 05, 11:19 am
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Originally Posted by the happy booker
Point one: When something is obviously wrong, it is right to speak out. If AC doesn't like it, then they should do something to correct the matter, other than using heavy-handed techniques to silence the voice of dissent.
Point two: AC most likely is 100 percent aware of who you are, and your position on things. However, from what I have seen re certain other FT posters, they are scared sh*tless of you. Amazing how thier spines turn into over-cooked noodles when they are dealing with high-profile (not level... I have seen many quieter sorts get treated like crap) frequent fliers, while kicking Joe Q Public in the head with impunity.
Point three: They sure as hell would not want a critic anywhere near one of their public gatherings, not so much as punishment to the individual, but for fear of public embarassment. You should have seen how the manager of my division came running to a mandatory meeting with one VP at top speed when she realized that I would be attending it (2nd session, mandatory attendance), and sat there throughout the whole thing, basically keeping me under guard. No embarassing questions were to get through! Actually, did manage to make the VP look a little stupid, but not on the hot topic they were so frightened about. At that time, I was just starting to unearth things, and it hadn't yet crossed my mind as to what sort of a golden oportunity was right in front of my face. Later on, trust me, all senior VPs etc... were kept far away from me.
The basic point, my friend, is: speak your mind freely, and if the folks at AC don't like it, it's becuase they know full well that you have a point. If they are hiding from you, it's because they are chicken-sh*t. Don't take it personally.

Bet you don't have the balls to ever show up at A FT event
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Old Apr 30, 05, 1:54 pm
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Originally Posted by Simon
I think that would have been commendable.

However, do you view yourself as significantly more ...troublesome than PunishedEdmontonian and why fly ?

Simon
Oh ouch! Interesting how someone becomes troublesome by pointing out alternatives... Some people are frightened by change, or competition.
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Old Apr 30, 05, 3:21 pm
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Originally Posted by parnel
...Management are doing their part as well to ensure that AC employees are able to put themselves in the customer's shoes ..
This is a very important point for me. I have had that exact same experience since leaving the airline.

During my career at Air Canada I was closer to the customer than just about everybody in the HQ building due to my time as a front line employee at an airport and my extensive time spent riding on airplanes and sitting in hold rooms through out the system.

However, since becoming a FF by buying my tickets and sopping up the knowledge here on FT I have realized that as an airline employee one is insulated from the real world and one does not truly appreciate the troubles of the frequent customer. An airline employee never uses AC.com to buy a ticket, doesn't ever use AE.com to try and redeem an award, has no idea what goes on when we need to change a return flight, does not experience the novelty of being able to choose among airlines for our next purchase.

These get togethers are invaluable for FF and AC insiders to meet and share ideas.

Now, as to getting new blood into these meetings.
What would AC gain by meeting with certain individuals again??? We all know the views of some people on this board, the vociferous ones. What would they contribute??? Would it not be the same old song playing all over again??? At each event it is time to hear the views of the ones that don't just **** and moan about the same detail every time they get the chance. To those people, 'You have shot your wad', now it is time for some of the rest of us.

Last edited by exAC; Apr 30, 05 at 3:24 pm
 
Old Apr 30, 05, 3:58 pm
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Originally Posted by why fly
Oh ouch! Interesting how someone becomes troublesome by pointing out alternatives... Some people are frightened by change, or competition.
To be clear, that wasn't a slam. Just pointing out that you're hardly compliant nor untroublesome
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Old Apr 30, 05, 4:34 pm
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Originally Posted by Ken hAAmer

Those who've been around FT for awhile know that I've been a pretty regular critic of AC. Incessant almost, though I maintain they deserved every criticism I've pointed at them. But clearly I have a reputation. And I have no doubt that reputation is known by people at AC.
You like to believe you're important don't you? I'm sure RM and RD must spent long hours watching what you're writing here and then sending memos to their staffers to make sure that you are never allowed to any AC event. I'm even sure they are considering banning you from their flights

If you like AA so much, just stop flying AC instead of building your SE status whithout advertising it, fly AA and stop coming here to complaint.
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Old Apr 30, 05, 5:16 pm
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Originally Posted by Super Larry
You like to believe you're important don't you? I'm sure RM and RD must spent long hours watching what you're writing here and then sending memos to their staffers to make sure that you are never allowed to any AC event. I'm even sure they are considering banning you from their flights

If you like AA so much, just stop flying AC instead of building your SE status whithout advertising it, fly AA and stop coming here to complaint.
SL: I'm not wanting to get in the middle of a nice flaming, but I really don't think that comments directly insulting a fellow FTer add anything useful to the debate.
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Old Apr 30, 05, 5:32 pm
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Originally Posted by Tractor Boy
SL: I'm not wanting to get in the middle of a nice flaming, but I really don't think that comments directly insulting a fellow FTer add anything useful to the debate.
You're probably right, but it's good getting it out, after reading posts after posts after posts after posts of complaints. I'm still waiting to read more than two consecutive posts with good comments about AC from this fellow FT'er. They are not perfect, but they do try hard (in most cases), but I guess for some it's not enough and never will.

Unfortunately we don't live in a perfect world but it seems that this very concept is not understood by some...

The issues related to this fellow FT'er about the YVR Do have been discussed at length in another thread, but I guess it wasn't enough. He needed to have his own little thread where he could complain again and make sure that everybody knows how badly AC has treated him again...
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Old May 1, 05, 11:37 am
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Super Larry Have you not just switched to AC...? How much do you fly? just to put some of your comments in context... about knowledge of AC.
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