Have you overheard the latest? The government might allow cell phone use during airline flights!
Yikes! Can you imagine? What an incredibly bad idea. What used to be fun is now drudgery at best, and now the authorities are thinking about allowing greedy airlines another way to make a little money at the expense of the customers paying the freight. This is like drooling in the hand that feeds you. Now when you book your seat – if they even let you choose your seat – you might be presented with a choice of ‘talk’ or ‘non-talking seats’. ‘Problem is, the talking, compounded by the yakking of the others all around you would result in a mind-splitting cacophony that would drive even the meekest bean counter berserk. ‘Remember that movie with Michael Douglas where he’s a straight-shooter who always plays by the rules? But they fire him for no clear reason, and he just snaps? On board this babble-infected cigar tube, it will be like a slowly burning fuse, then…Bamm! ‘Lawsuit City. Please immediately divert to the nearest landing field where the 82nd Airborne are waiting to clear the plane upon landing.
However, this is a glorious opportunity for an enterprising airline that wants to stand up and yell: “No, we will NOT allow anyone to use a cell phone on our flights. It’s just like smoking, they can’t do that either. ” This truly is differentiating yourself…preemptively, the heart of marketing’s Unique Selling Proposition.
Other industries are seeing that often it’s advantageous to offer the obverse side of the coin to a market segment that will be magnetically attracted to this clear choice. Air Canada, then Delta were the very first to outlaw smoking in their planes. They attracted lots of media attention and much extra business too. Soon the rest followed. Hotel chains are starting to ban smoking altogether in all their guest rooms, public spaces, even by the pool. ‘If you don’t like it, or just have to smoke, go stay (or fly) somewhere else.
Marketing is about choices. This too, is a choice. It is a concept whose time might have come. Imagine a slogan: “the quiet airline”. Or perhaps: “you can actually hear yourself think!” or “finally a chance for some quiet thinking, or having a snooze. ” Consider the plight of the poor flight attendants. They would have to listen to this psycho-babble for eight or more hours a day, full time! The airlines that did not allow cell phones would quickly acquire the very best onboard employees from the others. Flight attendants would vote with their feet.
The airlines that do decide to permit cell phones will be faced with extra air marshal costs for each of their flights, because “air rage” will soon break out and the fist fights in the aisle (although, perhaps free entertainment for some) will be frequently dangerous to others. I know that if some discourteous bozo sat next to me and started yakking away into one of those little machines during the flight, I would want to crown him with it upside his head. Or, as they say in Texas, I might want to introduce him to an “attitude adjustment”. Then the donnybrook would ensue and I’ll need you to bail me out. Imagine if enough disgruntled passengers started seizing them from their ignoramus-users, throwing them down the length of the aisle. You would have to bring your own goalie mask to make it safely ‘cross country. People would get hurt, lawsuits would pile up. It is astounding to even think that any government or airline employee in his or her right mind would even consider such a cockamamie request.
It’s to be hoped that it never comes to this, but if it does, change your flight plans. Pick those airlines who really know and understand what business they're in: pleasing the majority of the paying guests/passengers/customers. . . at a profit. This doesn’t mean you couldn’t have offshoot airlines for cell phone users. There might be United We Talk, Chalk Talk, Continental Cross Talk, Air Parlez, Luft Talk or even Tic Talk. The fact of the matter is, it’s a very bad idea; and someone in charge needs to do some market and consumer research – right now – to quantify just how bad an idea this really is.
©Copyright, Roy W. MacNaughton, 2006
Roy MacNaughton is a niche marketing coach and business writer. He’s a seasoned marketer, with more than 30 years of international marketing experience, including nine years online. His new e-book, (Marketing Yours), teaches solo practitioners, entrepreneurs and professionals how to market their most important product. Learn more at his blog: http://www.UmarketingU.com