Posted January 16, 2009 by Nicki Krawczyk
As they themselves will readily admit, American Airlines is getting personal. But not in the “What’s your sign, baby?” kind of way; more in the “Hey, you live in Boston? Fella, have I got some Boston deals fuh you!” And, despite how I make it sound, that turns out to be pretty darn helpful.
Good old American has begun personalizing their emails to, among other things, offer subscribers more relevant deals, highlighting great prices on flights from the subscriber’s hometown or cities near that hometown. This should help to significantly cut down on post-click disappointment (“$4 flights???” Click. “Oh, $4 if you’re flying from Estonia”). And, to do my full service to you, I should mention that they’re also running something called the Travel Brain Sweepstakes, featuring a grand prize of 250,000 AAdvantage Miles, a trip for two to a deluxe resort, and $5,000 cash. Why “Travel Brain,” you ask? No idea. None at all. It kind of sounds like a game, don’t you think? Or perhaps a threat to implant a microchip into your frontal lobe to track your airline preferences.
I think it’s important to applaud American Airlines for making their emails more personal (read: useful) for us. I think it’s also important to take a step further and supply/inundate them with other personalization opportunities, because many, oh many, exist.
For example, I live in perpetual fear of being caught somewhere with nothing to read, so I prepare for any flight by packing at least three books and three magazines, just on the not-so-off chance that a two-hour flight will turn into 12 hours on the tarmac. The downside is that I suffer from having to carry these books and magazines along with my laptop and other travel necessities. Could an airline, instead, offer to tuck a book and magazine of my choice into the seat pocket of my seat before I board for the price of the book (discount Amazon price) and a $1 fee? Sure. Would I pay it? Probably. Do any airlines do this? Nope.
My other fear is that I’ll be trapped somewhere with nothing to eat. I may have lived through a famine in a past life because the very idea of being stuck somewhere, hungry, with no access to food makes me want to scream and cry and shake and moan. Out of consideration for my fellow passengers, I aim not to let this occur by packing a whooooooole bunch of protein bars, snack crackers, nut mixes, etc. Instead, perhaps an airline could offer the option to choose and purchase a snack ahead of time and have it delivered to me during the flight. Again, I’d pay a 50-cent fee. Who am I kidding—for food? I’d give up my firstborn.
And for those airplanes that have a built-in TV screen in the seat in front of you? How about letting you choose from any number of movies? They could set up a deal with Netflix to pull something from your queue or even a proprietary deal with film studios to see movies during regular release. Would I pay for that? You mean, would I pay to avoid having to choose between that latest slapstick box-office bomb and teenie-bopper romance flick? Yes. Yes, please. Yes. Yes.
This is just the beginning. I can see a whole realm of personalization options just waiting to be explored. Heck, if Starbucks can call me by name for a $4 latte, an airline can call me by name for a $400 seat. You want to get personal with me, American Airlines? OK! Start with personalizing my emails, progress with personalizing my experience.
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