“Would you like to purchase a beverage?” the Frontier Airlines flight attendant asked as she rolled the cart down the aisle. Hmmm, is this a trick question?
Her word choices suggest that if you want a soda or juice, you have to pay for it. If you’re an inexperienced air traveler, then that’s exactly what you would think based on the way she asked the question, when in fact, they are still free (for now anyway). And by looking around the cabin at how many passengers had drinks, combined with the speed with which the flight attendants got through their cart service, I’d say this method of suggestive selling is working.
Less people are taking her up on her offer, and the less free drinks that are served, the less inventory they have to carry and the higher the profits for the airline.
I would guess their profit line is increased by millions of dollars just by making this one change in the way the question is framed.
But Wait, There’s More!
The p.a. is typically used for very important messages, right? Like to tell us to quickly get out of the aisle and into our seats because we’re causing a delay, or to go over safety guidelines, to give us status updates or to thank us. All of these fall within the spectrum of what we would expect as passengers.
However, half way through my flight, our entertainment and sleep were interrupted with a VERY important message — about the benefits of applying to their credit card. For a solid 3 minutes, hundreds of us were held hostage to an advertising message with absolutely no way to opt out. The flight attendant then walked up and down the aisle with a handful of applications and row by row asked if we wanted to apply today. Wait! I get it now – they are on commission sales, right?
As our plane was pulling into the gate, we were graciously ‘thanked’ for flying with Frontier and just when I thought it was over, it happened again. Without missing a beat she rolled right into promoting the credit card.
Note to airlines: When we’re in the air we don’t care about your hot, hot offer for two free tickets and 45,000 miles, if we did we would have talked to the carnival barker in the terminal at your kiosk. Please, I beg of you, focus on your core business, and the thing that we, your customers care and value the most: safety and comfort. That’s all we care about when we’re with you, so don’t over-think this relationship of ours.
If you do a good job there, then we’ll reward you with repeat business, and maybe, just maybe, opt in to your sweet offer. That’s business 101.