The first day went pretty well, but what were the highlights of the second and final day?

  1. Most entertaining part was when Steve Arsenault from IBS (they had 100 staff dedicated to iFly) got stuck into most airlines’ frequent flier systems saying they needed to switch to a newer solution like his. To back up his point he referred to this recent quote:
    Rob Friedman, president of American’s AAdvantage marketing programs division, says it took American more than a year to change software and data management systems to make it happen.
    Cara Kretz from ITA was in the room, and the quote above was like showing a red rag to a bull. She jumps in and says ITA is behind AA’s redemption software, and that it took nothing like a year to make the change to one way combinable fares. Steve didn’t want to get into a slanging match, and then said some nice things about ITA, but I’m sure that quote will be coming out again in his next customer sales pitch.
  2. Statistic of the day goes to Gianni Cataldo of Datalex claiming that 40% of Frontier customers trade up into a higher fare family. I was sitting next to a US low cost carrier employee and were were both skeptical. 

    I recall a major European airline telling me about three years ago that 60% of people buy the cheapest fare on the day, and 99% buy the cheapest fare for their preferred departure time. Admittedly their fare families were poorly differentiated, so this was a big part of the reason why it didn’t make sense for the customer to move to a higher fare. After looking at the Frontier site, I now have no reason to doubt what Gianni said. Take a look at the screenshot – you may need to click on it to enlarge it. The economy fare has no prior seat assignment, $15 for first bag, $25 for second bag and in flight entertainment at an unspecified additional fee. Pay only $20 more for your ticket by purchasing the Classic fare family, and you get all of this included, plus 25% more frequent flier points! With a deal like that, 40% of customers being “upsold” to a higher fare family is totally believable.

  3. Questions from the floor asked by Mirja Nissen of Lufthansa Consulting. Someone has to give her a moderators job at an upcoming travel conference panel session, as she was ruthless with anyone who tried to answer a different question to the one she had asked. I had a chat with her in the break and found her quite interesting. I’m sure if she was on the other side of the platform at a conference (ie. not in the audience) she could manage the most unruly of invited speakers who were straying off topic or running over their allotted time.