My Australian readers know the topic well, others will know similar companies.
Qantas is in a vortex of trouble and blaming everything from taxes, to exchange rates and unions.
They have never blamed themselves for their malaise. Sound familiar?
I am a loyal frequent flyer, but…...
Although I understand there are limitations on budgets which affect the ability to provide new aircraft and so forth, the following measures would cost next to nothing.
I'm a Gold Frequent Flyer so I get treated a little differently, but I'm also one of their prized frequent travellers.
1. Penthouse to the Doghouse
I get treated like a rock star at the airport with express lines and premium boarding, but once I get on board the ‘specialness’ disappears. On a recent flight from Singapore I had free Martini’s in the lounge but then could not get a drink on-board (more on that later).
Don’t pick customers up and then dump them down.
2. Be precise with pricing
When I make a booking you charge me $7 dollars per passenger for a credit card transaction. We all know the credit card fee is a fixed percentage of cost, usually 2%. On a $350 fare it works out the same. On a more expensive fare the airline misses out, and on a cheaper fare the customer overpays. To the customer it always feels like they are being gouged. So Qantas is potentially ripping itself off, and making the customers feel ripped off.
Look out for Lose-Lose scenarios.
3. Technology - Do it well or not at all
Their phone app is terrible and all it seems to do is sell other services. It’s become unusable.
Either do your technology with customer utility in mind or don’t do it.
Don’t turn technology into an excuse for an ad.
4. Keep up with the Jones’s
The facilities in competitor lounges is simply better, especially things like segregated checkin at Virgin Sydney (and Qantas strangely has it in Auckland and Singapore but not Australia).
Customers notice what the competition is doing and are easily tempted.
5. Don’t bore me
The first time you go to the lounge it’s awesome. The second time OK, then after years of travelling, when you see the same food every day, you stop using the lounge and start heading into the food hall. The special stuff has to stay special.
Don’t confuse consistency with boring.
6. I’m always important
As a frequent flyer, the lounge and boarding experience make me feel special. Sometimes on an international flight I will get greeted as a Gold flyer. When this happens (as it usually does with their partners like Emirates) I feel a little warm glow from being special. But the problem is that it happens rarely on Qantas. Once it happens, I expect it all the time.
When it doesn’t happen (usually), I feel a little less than ordinary, rather than special.
The same happens with express customs clearance cards. Sometimes frequent flyers receive them, but most times not. They will provide one if asked, but that’s not the point.
Once a customer is made to feel extra special, you have to keep it up.
7. The free extras should not be rubbish
Most free things are terrible. On Qantas, the food is not free. I pay handsomely for food with my ticket. So I don’t appreciate receiving something with the same quality as free. If you have ever flown into Sydney at 6am and greeted with the oily tasteless concrete Danish served with orange juice, then you will know.
8. Either you are premium or you are cheap
There is no in-between.
It’s well known now that to get a drink on Qantas is almost impossible. There is one alcoholic drink with the meal and then just water. Again, I paid for full service and expect at least to be asked. Don’t make me feel like Oliver Twist. On a recent flight I pushed the call buzzer for a wine after dinner and had to wait 21 minutes for someone to answer the call, after which all I got was huff and puff from the staff member. (Yes I timed it because I run a Mystery Shopping company)
9. Give a massively valuable FREE freebie
I used to get upgrades. Now - never.
Here's a big tip Qantas. Occasionally upgrade your frequent-flyers to business class. It costs nothing and generates a mass of goodwill. It also won't affect your business class bookings. It’s such a wonderful surprise, and usually gets spread on social media in seconds (there’s nothing like posting a Business Class seat photo).
Apparently policy is to upgrade only if Economy is full. Well Economy is rarely full anymore because you dropped the ball on all the things above.
All businesses should look for massively valuable goodies which cost next to nothing.
10. Zero Cost is not zero impact
Just because these measures don't cost money, does not mean they will not have an impact. I now fly Emirates planes when I book on Qantas. Thanks to their codeshare I fly an awesome airline and it costs me no more, though I'm sure it costs Qantas a lot. These free fixes matter. Just don't get too complicated and you'll be fine dear Qantas.
My disclaimer is that I don’t run an airline, I run a Mystery Shopping company. What I know from doing over 30,000 evaluations per year is that customers crave consistency, but the companies who need my services most are the ones who don’t use them. I wonder if that's why they keep bouncing around like a plane in a storm?
Love you Qantas, loyally yours… for now.