Dutch airline KLM is currently developing an innovative tool that will allow passengers to choose who they sit next to on flights in 2012. The passengers will be able to do this by accessing other passengers’ profiles, who have opt-ed in for this service on Facebook or LinkedIn.
The service is aptly named “Meet and Seat”. It will allow passengers to pick whom they will seat next to on an airline flight based on interests, professions, or even looks. However, the program might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Imagine a fellow business traveler picks another business traveler thinking that they will have a quiet and peaceful flight, but it turns out the fellow business passenger gives them a non-stop sales pitch throughout the entire flight. Or for a single person looking to meet another single person, the situation could turn into an awkward experience that neither person can escape from for the rest of the flight. The question is will the service resonate and succeed with passengers?
AirTroductions, an online dating service for frequent fliers, offered a similar service to meet fellow travelers back in 2006. However, the service appeared to never really take off and they rebranded their name to TripLife. TripLife is the same concept, but they have now expanded the scope past just the airplane and the airport. TripLife members can meet someone at any point before and during travel, such as at a hotel bar or restaurant.
However, this is likely just the beginning for social media innovation in the blue skies. For example, Malaysia Airlines released a service on Facebook to see if friends are visiting a similar destination or if friends are taking the same flight at the same time. Some airlines, like Virgin America, even offer a seat-to-seat text chat service through their in-flight entertainment system.
Will any of these services take off and will customers want to use the service? One never knows. However, other companies, like airline Virgin Atlantic, have expressed interest in the idea. One could easily envision a Virgin Atlantic flyer meeting another passenger at the bar in-flight on the plane. As social media continues to grow, I imagine that we will see more of this type of innovation and marketing from other travel companies. I believe this service will be a big hit with young, single people. Other travel industries, for example cruise ships, could also offer similar services. I know I will not be requesting to sit with another passenger anytime soon since the only person I want to request to sit next to is my wife.
I’ve banked with my bank for 14 years. It’s a significant chunk of my life – somewhat less than half but more than a quarter. Together we’ve navigated the excitement and work of four mergers – three acquisitions on their part and one marriage on my part. In that time, my husband and I have also welcomed our first dog (and said goodbye), bought a house, had three children, refinanced our mortgage a couple of times, changed jobs six or seven times, gotten a new credit card (or ten), bought and sold six cars, said good-bye to three grandparents, finally got serious about a 401K plan, established an IRA rollover account to deal with 401Ks from pervious employers, set-up a brokerage account, set-up college savings accounts…
Life goes on, right? Our story isn’t much different than many other peoples’ stories.
And frankly my bank’s story isn’t that much different from other banks’ stories. They’ve merged, expanded their online banking and mobile services, done away with free checking, and struggled with earnings. And no, they haven’t started charging a monthly fee for a debit card, but they’re thinking about it.
So, at the end of the day, we’re just an average customer and an average bank doing business together. But to be honest, I feel like I’ve changed more than they have. My bank pretty much handles my day-to-day banking transactions as it always has. Granted, the ability to deposit a check with my phone is a revolutionary change from my point of view, but I’m not sure that anything else about my bank has gone through a revolution.
Oh, I know all sorts of things have changed on the backend. I know this, because literally one second after I deposited a check with my phone, I got an email that they received the deposit request. And another second after that it popped up in my online banking statement.
But from a customer standpoint, my bank handles my business the same way it did when I first opened my account with them 14 years ago.
I’m writing about this because I’m working on a Webinar about lifecycle marketing. I don’t get many offers from my bank. Of course we get a few. Most recently they asked us to set up automatic mortgage payments made directly from our checking account. Since my husband doesn’t believe in online banking, we won’t be signing up for the service anytime soon. Not even for the $25 they are offering us. The offer promises to “make your life easier.” It won’t really though. Because if I brought it up with my husband he’d say “no.” And then I might be unable to refrain from muttering something about a “technology laggard.” And then he might be tempted to say something along the lines of “you’re not as cool as you think you are.” And then we’d be in a quagmire. Which is really the complete opposite of making my life easier.
But back to the lifecycle of our relationship with our bank…We often get offers encouraging us to open a savings account. Uh…did they not notice that we already have four savings accounts? Throughout our “relationship” I’m sure we’ve gotten numerous offers. And from the banks’ perspective they are probably exactly where they want to be in their relationship with us…two checking accounts, one jumbo mortgage, one credit line, three credit cards, four savings accounts. Much of that growth has happened with little effort on their part. They inherited the mortgage, the line of credit and two credit card accounts through merger activity.
Truth be told, they haven’t done the best job of knowing what’s going on with me. If they truly knew me, they would be trying to sign me up for a 529 Account (3 kids, remember?) Or better yet, offer me a wedding savings account so that I can save for when those same 3 kids eventually decide to tie the knot. Or a car loan. One car has 130K miles on it, the other has 99K miles on it. A new car is in our near future….I wonder if my bank realizes that?
AT&T just announced plans for a soft launch of its new 4G network across Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and San Antonio this summer. According to AT&T and cnn.com, this upgrade to LTE (Long Term Evolution) service will be available to 70 million Americans by the end of 2011. LTE is old news to some consumers – it’s the same technology behind Verizon’s network, which it’s been promoting since late last year.
Doesn’t AT&T already promote a 4G broadband network you ask? The answer is yes. AT&T has already been offering 4G phones and touting its 4G-branded network since January of this year, however it was among the last of the major carriers to promote “4G.” In direct mail campaigns observed by Comperemedia, AT&T has been advertising phones such as the Motorola Atrix 4G and the HTC Inspire 4G. AT&T has also been claiming that it “is getting faster with 4G.” Whether this means that AT&T was actually claiming that it operates at 4G speeds (the marketing term “4G”) or if it was just getting consumers excited about the transition is still a little unclear. The current “4G” network that AT&T operates on uses HSPA+, which is technically the 3G standard, but has been shown to reach speeds equivalent to or even faster than the newer 4G LTE (although this is a rare occurrence) because of upgrades to existing HSPA networks. Unlike HSPA+, LTE is actually a 4G technology. It is supposedly capable of delivering speeds up to 73 megabits per second, but a more reasonable estimate of its typical speed seems to be around 28 megabits per second for downloads, which is still more than twice as fast as your basic cable modem. These speed estimates are just that – estimates, because once they are launched and consumers begin to clog up the network, it’s likely that they will slow down considerably.
According to an article on cnn.com, a spokesman for AT&T claims that the transition to LTE won’t be as confusing for AT&T customers as it seems. In areas where LTE is not available, customers will continue to use HSPA+ which still has very fast speeds, unlike other wireless providers whose customers get a much more dramatic decrease in speed when they get knocked down from 4G to 3G. So how is AT&T going to differentiate its new 4G from the old one? Well using the LTE name will be a start, but there is going to have to be some fancy footwork by AT&T marketing execs to come up with creative branding to re-position AT&T’s newest 4G network.
Recently in this blog, I mentioned I was in the market for an auto insurance product that features a ”pay as you drive” premium rating factor. With the buzz circulating in California around “pay as your drive” auto insurance, I thought that this would be an easy task…I thought wrong. It turns out that paying for insurance based on driving usage and habits is fairly new to the marketplace and is only available in a handful of states by a handful of insurance providers.
On Thursday 12/02/10, State Farm was approved for pay as you drive auto coverage in California. Other companies are expected to launch verified mileage based insurance programs throughout the state within the next 12 months. One minor detail is that I don’t live in Cali or plan on moving to the west coast anytime in the near future. It is nice to see that insurance companies are willing to assess the risk of such programs in a state as large as California, but for the short term this doesn’t help my situation.
Upon further digging, outside of the state of California, only GMAC, Progressive, and a new insurance company called MileMeter provide discounts and/or coverage based on mileage driven and driving habits. So I called all three companies to inquire further.
Progressive offers a coverage called Snapshot, which obtains information on your driving habits through an on-board telemetric device (small device you plug into your car). Kind of weird that my insurance company would be able to see my every move, but if it can lower my insurance cost, I’d be willing to give it a try. Illinois does not have this program available, but it is currently available in Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Maryland, New Jersey and Oregon. Strike One! See Lily’s blog for more information on Snapshot: http://www.comperemedia.com/blog/2011/01/take-a-drive-with-flo/
GMAC offers a program called Pay As You Go, which is an opt-in program available for OnStar subscribers that can save customers up to 54% on auto insurance. 54% off has a nice ring to it. Driving habits and scenarios are tracked via OnStar, but therein lies the problem…my Jeep is not equipped with OnStar. Strike Two!
Mile-Meter, launched in 2007, offers Pay-By-The-Mile auto insurance, but is only available in Texas. Strike Three!