Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dennis Schaal's Proposal for the Airline Sales Channel and A La Carte Pricing Conference

The Elliott Blog tipped me off to the upcoming Airline Sales Channel & A La Carte Pricing conference in Miami.

I am not sure whether I can attend.

But, I have some recommendations for the conference planners in how they might extract some ancillary revenue (sound familiar?) out of the event.

I see that if you register for the confab by April 10, the discounted registration fee is $1149.

That is a bargain, of course, considering all the information available about increasing the airline industry's estimated $3.5 billion annual take from such nouveau services that heretofore had been available for free.

Anyway, times are tough, so here's my plan, unsolicited of course, for conference organizers.

Charge participants that $1149 fee, but when they arrive at the event, let them know that seating in the main conference ballroom will be $350 extra. If they don't want to pay the fee, there will be plenty of standing room.

No worries.

And, if they want a front-row seat with extra legroom, or an aisle seat for easy exiting from the main lecture hall, then tack on an additional $200.

Conference delegates, of course, will be happy to pay for this extra value. Even if they only find out about it after they book their conference attendance.

Transparency? What's that?

All of this unbundling of conference pricing will be worth it because the conference promises to "guide attendees towards increasing this huge [$3.5 billion] revenue source, as well as how to sustain this revenue over the long-term."

And, if one of the conference keynote speakers gives an especially illuminating talk about the next horizon in charging for meals on jetplanes, then charge conference attendees an additional $75 for downloading the presentation.

Again, it's a bargain.

And, while they are at it, conference organizers might want to sell anonymous data about conference registrants to third-party advertisers, including credit card companies and stock brokers.

The conference attendees would appreciate being targeted as part of this new, behavioral advertising trend because the advertisers are providing their prey, I mean their customers, with valuable products and services.

After all, airlines are planning to target their passengers with such advertising when they view in-flight entertainment on their seatbacks.

And, if conference organizers feel especially altruistic after bumping up revenue from attendees, they might want to consider throwing in a few freebies, including perhaps some complimentary sodas or napkins.

There's nothing like building customer loyalty after playing the ancillary-services game.


Kevin May said...


Yen said...

LOL. They should also charge extra for wireless, coffee (NOT suggesting that the speakers & topics won't be riveting), and for ability to leave early (again, NOT suggesting that the speakers & topics won't be riveting)

Susan Black said...

I love this post…for its cleverness. Of course you and I differ about extracting incremental income from an audience. Think of it as “controlled circulation” - sort of like Travel Weekly ;). Of course, it should be permission-based (opt-in), and it should be within reason.

Now, as far as charging for preferred aisle seating, checked baggage, etc…that’s another matter. My suggestion is that airlines offer frequent travelers (above a certain mileage flown) all of these services free, (that’ll most likely be the business traveler who has a close-in booking window, and therefore pays more than a leisure traveler). For leisure travelers, they’ll likely pay a low base price for a ticket booked in advance (particularly with price assurance and its clones) – but they should have an option of “free add-ons”, like checked baggage or seat assignments, in exchange for opting into advertising or other data-driven revenue producers. The airlines have to make a buck, and we all want base prices to remain low. This may provide a compromise for each.

Dennis Schaal said...

Some good ideas, Susan. Yes, the airlines need to make some buck -- as long as they are providing some real value to consumers and are very transparent about their practices.

Martin said...

If Kevin says "Ouch' once above, I suppose I should say it twice, especially as I'm on the agenda at that one. But very amusingly written, and I suppose it is important to poke fun at oneself occassionally. In my defence I'll claim that I'm talking about technology to increase conversion rates on rental cars, hotels and destination content - but I suppose if an airline asked me nicely enough, I could use similar tools to help sell more of those dreaded pre-paid first checked bags etc. When that happens, I'll really have to run for cover from other bloggers!

Darren Cronian said...

Dennis, at first I thought oh-oh travel jargon he's going to loose me, but then I saw the direction you were going with the post.

Haha Great post.

Dennis Schaal said...

Martin: Don't run for cover. From what I can tell, you are doing some very valuable stuff and I enjoy reading the Shearwater Blog. I'm just trying to keep it real here. The airlines have to make money. Instead of charging me for a meal or to check my bag, why not offer me a discount on lounge access, some priority boarding for the non-elite, or even a good deal on some ground transportation? Anyway, good luck at the conference. You should probably keep it under your hat, so to speak, that you know me:)

Elma Krom said...

its very good projected.