Posted by: prataap | January 20, 2008

CUSTOMIZATION TREND 1: Air Travel: Dating in Rows 24-37 A-K


Dating in Rows 24-37 A-K

Customer-ized Extras

Emerging Trends:

As travel reservations are made on-line more often (to survive, travel agents need to become a lot more specialized or get into innovative partnerships with other services) the possibilities for on-line customizations get easier and easier and many for no added cost. But for a price. Eh? 

Sections of a plane especially on longer flights could be designated “talking” or “do not disturb”. In the former you can customize further, ask to be seated next to someone interested in Celtics basketball and into Kundalini Yoga, so that you already know you have “center forwards and chakras” in common. And you may decide to communicate via i-phone or e-mail before your flight when you book on-line. No need for breaking the awkward ice with, “excuse my elbow.” Instead you can go; “hello Ming!  I am Prataap.”

Similar concepts could also apply to cruises, commuter trains, restaurants, and in shopping malls where pre-programmed PDA/cell phone alerts sound when you pass someone who also loves Thai food, tennis, and hiking in Tibet. You can check your personal digital assistant then look the person over and decide; stop and chat or keep walking? Forget cutting coupons, items of your preference that are on sale will appear on your PDA as you walk by, window shopping will never be the same again.

Next Opportunities:

Customizing in the airline industry has been happening but the shift is towards polarization. 

Customizations on flights are going to follow the trend of Extreme Polarization.  When in First Class on Emirates and Singapore Airlines you’ll have the luxury of a separate cabin while in the cattle car you’ll pay for everything beyond the seat. Think of the endless opportunities for extras. Extra for extra leg room (I kid you not), extra for a cell phone free section, extra for a shot of pure oxygen to reverse the effects of jet lag. Endless extras to be offered. Your opportunity to create and sell the extras!!  

Virgin airlines  pioneered the idea of everyone  flying in “upper class.” Now,in their continuing effort to make you feel special, they’ve coined the term “jetrosexuals”.  Virgin prides itself in giving everyone some extras to customize their experience. Even while airlines are cutting back, I see that as a trend that is catching on. It will not come free,  most (like showers and massages) will come at a price, others (like a hit of oxygen before landing) will become standard, part of the price.  Obvious real opportunities exist for airlines, computer programmers, and travelers alike to customize air travel all over again.

On charter flights to vacation destinations, rows 24-36 could be for those who have asked to be matched with others,based on information provided during booking, where they are staying, interests, etc. so that they can choose to meet fellow travelers en-route with similar interests to hike, sail and eat out together.  Hook up and enjoy the vacation before it starts!! And just when you thought that was wild enough, a German firm introduced “nude” flights in Germany this July!!  An all nude flight at 30,000 ft. Now that is customization!!

A number of exciting opportunities exist for those who can create low cost ways of customizing air travel such as providing 10 minute neck massages on long flights, booked in advance when they make their reservation on line. Or how about providing basic language lessons on Channel 90n during the long flights between countries. A lot can be learnt on a 20 hour flight from Chicago to Tokyo, and if you fly that route often enough you might even learn enough Japanese to muster up the courage to order fugu by the third trip.   

The possibility for customizing air travel has just begun, and when it can be done at little or no cost, the possibilities are endless.  But count on the airlines to make money off of it….or you can do an end run around them and bring your own customized meal, seat massager, DVD player ( as many do today) or be the provider to the airlines  for some of the next generation of extras for them to sell.

Let your imagination run wild.  

Create the future and smell the roses, it’s your move!

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