Question 10: Industry Changes Impacting FlyerTalk

 
Old Nov 3, 08, 9:36 am
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Question 10: Industry Changes Impacting FlyerTalk

submitted by Kiwi Flyer
With the airline industry likely to rationalise over the next few years, will FT change as well? If yes, how do you propose to reflect those changes on FT? If no, please explain why FT would not change?
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Old Nov 3, 08, 10:18 am
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speculation
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Old Nov 3, 08, 10:34 am
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I think the focus will shift a bit more away from loyalty programs and more towards maximizing the travel experience trip-by-trip. FlyerTalk has already incorporated some of these forums (Budget Travel, Travel Bidding, even TravelBuzz, Travel Technology, and some of the special interest forums) into the site and I think this will only continue as people realize that the benefits gained from sticking with one airline/hotel or alliance doesn't overcome the additional cost (time/money/effort).

So I think we should be looking for ways to provide information to make the travel experience better -- tips, discounts, etc. And TB will be at the forefront, looking at new forums and thinking of ways to give people information that will make the whole process better.

That said, I think it's important that FT keep its voice loud and heard when it comes to loyalty programs. It's one of the key parts of my platform -- TB should be leading the effort to bring formal and informal liaisons to FT and should be thinking of ways that FT members can specifically benefit from their involvement with FT with respect to the loyalty programs.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 10:40 am
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Excellent question KiwiFlyer.

I'm going to give a bit of an oblique answer to your yes/no question here.... yeas and no.

As airlines consolidate and merge there's going to be shuffles in terms of forums. LH should have a controlling stake in BD by early next year and no doubt diamond Club will be merged into Miles & More... and no doubt there's going to have to be a bit of a rejig in terms of the forums here on FT.

Equally content changes too. When airlines are looking to save money things happen that prompt threads on FT about cutbacks - witness the discussion regarding UA's Transtlantic buy-on-board. In sunnier times we get thread about real enhancements - UA introduce hot meal in Y on flights of 35 minutes or more. And with free champagne. Or not!

So why the 'no' in my 'yes and no' answer?

Basically because I don't see FT as being that complex a beast. I'm very much in the IJAFIBB camp and whilst things change, they also stay the same.

Pretty much quoting something I wrote in the TB forum a while back:

FT, as an IBB, isn't that complex an operation. The only real questions are:

1 - What servers will be used.
2 - What software will be used
3 - The look of the board
4 - What features of the software will be turned on or off.
5 - What forums will exist and how they will be organised.
6 - The rules for use
7 - How the rules of use will be policed (aka moderation).

In terms of TalkBoard '7' is off limits so that leaves the rest. 1 and 2 are pretty obscure really and whilst not technically off-limits are now I guess very much within the control of Internet brands rather than Randy.

So that leaves TB to consider 3, 4, 5 and 6.
  • Let's stick a red ribbon at the top of every page on 1st December for world aids day?
  • Let's allow pictures to be posted in all forums?
  • Let's turn off signatures?
  • Let's split the XXX forum in 3?
  • Let's create a XXX rail forum?

Now - that's just a random list of ideas. Quite possibly not very good ideas, maybe excellent ones - but the very stuff that the consideration of is the reason for TB's existance.

My biggest frustration with TB has been the tendency when an idea is presented of:
  • taking debate onto all kinds of tangents - in the MTW debacle there was extensive discussions as to whether it would be right to approve Hamas as a FT approved charity which just wasn;t the question.
  • fudging issues - in the MTW debacle when it came to vote time votes were cast with all kinds of criteria being applied - criteria that just did not tie in whith what the motion actually said.
  • playing politics - in numerous debates proposals have been scuppered by members holding generally good ideas hostage to obscure points. I recall a comment when the Charity Guidelines were first being proposed and the idea was suggested that 'a member of TB will be allocated the job of a vetting the request' - to which one Fter noted this would be a deal killer for him because as a Jew he could be asked to approve a charity with regards to an earthquake in Iran. Which is all quite valid as far as it goes - except it doesn't really go very far at all requiring as many starts to line up as it does.
  • navel gazing - process, procedures. As a casual observer it seems Tb seends more time looking at how it works rather than just doing work.

And the biggie - not voting on issues. Issues are raised, we get the debates, the tangents, the fudge, the politics, the navel is gazed at... but in terms of an actual answer to the bloody question... er, no, we don;t get that at all. To give just one example - closure of the travelling with pets forum was suggested on 7th October. Good idea? Bad idea? Well - whatever - why not just take a vote and answer the actual question.

And... erm, I think I'm heading off on my own tangent here. There will be changes on FT, but it's going to remain as a bulletin board. TB just need to stick to answering questions by applying a bit of common sense and simply thinking 'is it a good idea'. If elected I'll be happy to answer the questions and would like to see TB being more active with votes.

Last edited by phillipas; Nov 3, 08 at 10:46 am Reason: typos
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Old Nov 3, 08, 10:41 am
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I'm hoping that the collective impact of FT and FT's growth will encourage the airline industry to not do away with programs & benefits.

FT will continue to grow and focus on other aspects of travel, as RichMSN's pointed out above me. I couldn't have said it better than he did.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 10:53 am
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Question 10: Industry Changes Impacting FlyerTalk
The biggest industry change I am worried about myself is the trend to make beers stronger and doing away with girlie beer. (Lite for US drinkers)
I am not sure consolidation will effect FT too much. KLM/AF is a good example of this.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 11:53 am
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Originally Posted by phillipas View Post
Excellent question KiwiFlyer.

I'm going to give a bit of an oblique answer to your yes/no question here.... yeas and no.

.
I will agree with a lot with my fellow candidate has said. Things will change but will it be for good or better who knows, if I had a crystal ball then I would certainly be looking at this Fridays lottery numbers and not worrying about air travel.....

If/when things change then FT will have to change with it, its as simple as that. If airlines go bust the forums shutdown, sad to say. I just hope we don't see a Ryanair Transatlantic forum.............now that is one place I would not visit...
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Old Nov 3, 08, 11:56 am
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I don't forsee Flyertalk changing that much. Of course there will be forum consolidation as the airlines consolidate (coming up are DL/NW and BMI/LH if/when they actually combine the loyalty programs). Of course this will need to be revisited if un the unlikely event that the structure of the loyalty programs changes drastically (eg. if the Miles/Points become more readily interchangable / combinable etc).

The non-Miles/Points forums are addressed in another question.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 12:15 pm
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Randy Petersen View Post
submitted by Kiwi Flyer
With the airline industry likely to rationalise over the next few years, will FT change as well? If yes, how do you propose to reflect those changes on FT? If no, please explain why FT would not change?
As I posted in MilesBuzz, I believe that legacy carriers have made an error of historic proportions by devaluing their FF programs so much. Upgrades to F are much harder to obtain, and international summer award travel is almost impossible now. All but the top elite members are beginning to reconsider whether the FF game is worth the bother.

If FF programs become less important to travelers, FT discussions will naturally move toward sharing information on improving the travel experience or finding lower fares. On the Southwest forum, where the FF program is fairly boring, the majority of posts already relate to the travel experience or getting better prices on tickets.

I don't see much of a role for TalkBoard in managing this shift. It will pretty much manage itself. The shift will be so gradual that we may not even notice it. The forums will not need to be re-arranged, because they will still be separated by airline and hotel chain.

Originally Posted by phillipas View Post
And the biggie - not voting on issues. Issues are raised, we get the debates, the tangents, the fudge, the politics, the navel is gazed at... but in terms of an actual answer to the bloody question... er, no, we don;t get that at all.
I disagree. I believe that no TB member should formally offer or second a proposal that has no realistic chance of approval. I regard that as political grandstanding, playing to voters and at the same time damaging goodwill among TB members.

People who believe that the TalkBoard is a political body and should act like one will disagree with me. I understand that, although I hope I'm doing a good job of explaining the disadvantages of that point of view.

If the voters need to see a resolution other than to assume that the lack of a proposal means a lack of support for the proposal, how about this: We might modify the TB rules to allow the TB to announce tabling (deferral) of proposals that are at least temporarily dead. Such announcements could only be made by unanimous consent. One member could propose such an announcement, and any objection within a 2-week period would kill the announcement. There would be no public announcement of the failed proposed announcement, since that would make grandstanding far too tempting.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 1:25 pm
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I think this is an excellent question. There is no question that the commercial landscape is undergoing great changes ("convulsions" is probably a more accurate description). The carriers are going through another period of consolidation, travel is, again, becoming expensive, both in terms of the cost of flying and the amount of money available to passengers for this purpose. I, myself, have fallen victim to the current economic crises and, as a result, will almost certainly be flying dramatically less this year.

I don't see the roll of FlyerTalk changing. It will continue to be a forum for experienced travelers to share their knowledge and opinions. We'll all be adapting to the changing conditions in the industry -- the information we share may be different, but our reasons for coming together at FlyerTalk will remain the same. We'll still be concerned with finding the best solutions for business and leisure travel, the destinations that offer the most value, the carriers that provide the most comfortable and efficient experience, etc.

I suspect, too, that frequent flier programs will, increasingly, become an anachronism. We're seeing that already: miles are devalued, each "improvement" translates into a reduction in services provided, award seats and upgrades have become more and more scarce, and perks for all but the highest-tier elites are confined primarily to early boarding and access to preferred seating. This trend will, almost certainly, continue and, for this reason, FlyerTalk will become even more important as we try to wring every benefit and exploit every loophole available.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 3:28 pm
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I disagree with your sentiment that the airline industry is likely to rationalise. You may see some level of consolidation among big players in the western world, but the proportion of ASMs worldwide that is operated by independant players is growing on an annual basis.

Flyertalk needs to keep pace with industry trends to remain relevant, whether those trends are rationalisation or anything else. The fundamental position of my platform is that change must be informed change and must have the interests of all stakeholders appropriately represented before it can be implemented.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 3:33 pm
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The strength of Flyertalk is its ability to change and grow with way the world changes. Over the time I have been a member we have seen airlines, come, go, and merge.

Each time, based on member feedback, Flyertalk has grown with new people coming to the site and more engagement from the members and airlines leading to a richer experience for all. We have seen a change from the sharing of promo codes to sharing of travel experiences. This I am sure will continue and adds real value to the site.

There is no reason why this cannot continue.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 6:36 pm
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I have to start by saying how impressed i am with the amazing response of phillipas. I wish i would have wrote it first..

I think that the great advantage of FlyerTalk is that there will never be a shortage of aviation "nuts" who want.. no wait, need to discuss their frequent flyer programs, received information and share it and generally communicate with fellow travelers.

From a business perspective, i think FlyerTalk will only grow advertising revenue wise but that's not what we are here for... (even though i would love to get part of that revenue (wink) )

I believe that over the years more and more people will discover FT as with the economy being on a downfall pattern people will want to maximize the options available to them via their frequent flyer programs, mileage runs, status etc.
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Old Nov 3, 08, 7:17 pm
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While the pointy end of the travel business is certainly changing, I wouldn't go out to the barn and try to dig that buggy whip out of the eaves just yet.

People will still travel. And FTers will travel a lot. And we'll all still need our FT community's collective wisdom and arcane knowledge to prevent The Man from sticking it to us. Yes, you read me right: The Man.

The Man comes in many forms, from lounge dragons to TSA sniffers, from FF program administrators to ticketing agents, from FAs to hotel clerks. It is this knowledge of The Man and his convoluted ways that gives the FT community the spunk it needs to fly in the face of any industry upheaval and emerge stirred, but not shaken.

I thank you for the question.
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Old Nov 4, 08, 3:43 am
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IMHO: The mentality of the members will change in so far that we will try to squeeze all possible benefits out of the airlines. Even more than presently.

The reason is, they nickel and dime us on every corner. Phone booking fee, baggage fee, buy-on-board food, change fee etc.

The only way to fight back and keeping travelling affordable is to strike back with their own weapons. Complaining about inacceptable conditions while travelling, demanding compensations. I can imagine many scenarios that are already starting to be visible !
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