Monday, February 20, 2006

CBS Report On Manners Tries A Little Too Hard To Please

Not That We Want To Be Mean About It Or Anything
In an otherwise-absorbing report on CBS Sunday Morning about manners, or the lack thereof, Martha Teichner showed how being nice could be nice for the bottom line by pointing to Southwest Airlines as a paragon of corporate courtesy.
True, the airline is known for generally friendly employees, whose default position is a smile. You may not get everything you want, but at least they'll be nice about it.
Teichner asked rhetorically whether this corporate culture was resonating, to which she answered how Southwest was the only major airline to make a profit last year. While that's correct, it was a leap to assert that employees happy, peppy and bursting with love for their passengers was the reason.
I'm sure that doesn't hurt, but also consider:

--Southwest has an uncomplicated fare structure, with fare prices and frequent departures throughout the country.
--It keeps costs down by only having one type of airplane -- a 737 -- to service.
--It bought fuel hedges, which limited the airline's exposure to runaway gas prices, at least through 2008.
--Southwest has all-coach service, and limits refreshments to drinks and a bag of pretzels or nuts, no matter how long the flight.
--Because it prides itself on a quick turnaround for its planes, Southwest keeps its fleet in the air longer each day. More flights, more money.

And yes, having a pleasant experience while aboard, definitely motivates passengers to book flights. But that it is only a small part of the equation, if it is a part at all.

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