Cranky on the Web (January 6 – 10)

Higher Fees Actually Do Mean Lower Fares, At Least For One AirlineConde Nast Daily Traveler
There is nothing that showers the power of fees like looking at Spirit’s fares over time. It shows how fees are beneficial to at least some people.

In the Trenches: How to Sell OurselvesIntuit Small Business Blog
Sometimes we discourage people from signing up for our service, and I’m not always sure it’s the right thing to do.

Canceled Flight? Stranded at an Airport? Try These Tips to Get HomeConde Nast Daily Traveler
It was a rare double Conde Nast week. I put together some of the tips we use in helping stranded travelers in the business with the hope that it could help others.

Cancelled Flight for LAX’s Iconic Encounter RestaurantKCRW Which Way, LA?
Encounter, the restaurant in the Theme Building at LAX, has closed, and I was on our local NPR station to talk about what it means and whether something will replace it. My part starts at 15:45.


5 Responses to Cranky on the Web (January 6 – 10)

  1. Dan says:

    Brett,

    I think you were right to turn that business away. The other thing you could have done was to take the business and tell the client that if you can’t help them then you will refund their money.

    The thing you have to remember is that you likely have more experience at this than your customers do (I think you wrote a piece on customer segmentation already, I’d have to refer back to it.) They come to you because they trust your advice. The minute they think you’re in it to take their money at all costs, even when you know you can’t help them, is the minute you start losing credibility. And with that goes your business.

    Over time, when people know that you will only take their money when you feel you can deliver added value, you will be able to increase the fees for your service. In this way, both you and your customers are happy.

    • CF says:

      Dan – Thanks for your thoughts on this. We’ve thought about the “don’t pay unless we succeed” model and I’ve dismissed it. We’ll get a lot more people signing up because there’s no risk, but our margins are too low to make that work. I think the only way to do that kind of model is to jack up our rates to cover the work we take on but can’t help with. We have enough people willing to pay now that it wouldn’t make sense. Though it does bug me when people decide not to sign up even though i think we could help them.

  2. David SF eastbay says:

    “How to sell ourselves”

    That’s a tough one to work out. While you can offer someone a rock bottom price to help with something simple, it could wind up taking a lot of time which could take you away from helping someone paying for a higher priced service that doesn’t take up a lot of time. But anyone you turn away even if it’s better for them, could lead them to not turning to your again because “they didn’t help me” before or using word of mouth to tell friends and family “they were no help” which could loose you business down the road.

    At least as a small business you are more flexible to make a deal with each person. Either just doing something free for good will or saying if you can help them with one call in less then 15 minutes you won’t charge them, but if it takes longer you’ll charge them $X amount.

    • CF says:

      David SF – We definitely talk to people a lot before making them sign up for both award travel and urgent assistance (our two highest-dollar services). So it is sort of an interview process for them, and if I have advice that doesn’t require us doing work, I’m happy to give it. I’ve suggested websites or other resources that might help if I don’t think the person is the right fit for our service.

      I’ve also thought about the hourly model – pay for the services you use. I think it gets too complex and open-ended though. People don’t care how much time you spend. They just want the end result.

  3. Sean S. says:

    The problem with fee’s is you still haven’t seen the absolute rock bottom prices that you see in the uncoupled market of the EU. Part of this might be labor costs, and the shuffle that EU airlines use to skirt their own national labor protections, but I think the truth is there hasn’t been a great push to use low cost, alternative airports. Not anyways until the strategy that is coming out of Frontier. Frontier is clearly banking on flying into airports that either have little or absolutely no service in an attempt to skirt expensive landing fee’s, and it’ll be interesting to see what sort of pressure that puts on many of the hub airports to address their cost structure and desire for inflated projects.

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