Continuous chaos on so many levels in the U.S. has resulted in a variety of reactions by both businesses and individuals. It’s interesting to observe the vast differences in strategies as this country faces the most challenging economic environment in decades.
Difficult times lead many to innovate, others to take risks never before contemplated, and still others to lay low, do nothing, and focus on hope as a strategy.
Let’s take a look at some examples of innovation, change, risk-taking, and action which are currently taking place as a result of those who have chosen not to wait until the dust settles. These examples may be very successful or may fail miserably … time will reveal their fate. However, they evolve from the hearts and minds of those who refuse to wait for others to determine their fate.
Is It a Gamble to Land at Miami International Airport?
Knowing that I fly a great deal, people often comment on how exciting it must be to travel across the country from airport to airport. Well, they’re absolutely right—for your first few months of travel. After that, it becomes boring, frustrating, and often exhausting. Although the food has improved, it’s still far from ideal. The lines are long, the delays have become customary, the waiting areas are uncomfortable, and there is little, if anything, to do while you wait. That may all soon change.
USA Today has reported that the Miami-Dade County commissioners voted 8-3 to allow slot machines at the Miami International Airport. The devices will be located beyond security checkpoints and would potentially allow the county to recoup some of the money that the airport is hemorrhaging. At present, the operating cost of the airport is $600 million and could more than double in the next six years. The slots could provide a much-needed revenue stream.
The airport will realize a new, much-needed revenue stream, passengers will have something to do waiting for the typically delayed Miami flight, and a few people may even win a few dollars. However, if you’ve ever been to Vegas, Atlantic City, or one of your local casinos, you certainly know the annoying sound of a group of slot machines mocking, in unison, the fate of the losers. Airport sound tracks are bad enough with PA announcements, screaming children, and people yelling into their cell phones. Now we can add the sweet, soothing tones of dozens of slot machines!
One last thing … if this endeavor is successful, however that may be defined, you can bet it won’t take long before every major airport in the nation will be following suit. So hunker down, make earplugs a travel staple, figure out how to get rolls of quarters through security, and adapt to another change in our chaotic lives.
Are You Ready for a McSpark?
On this blog, we’ve discussed the innovative efforts of McDonald’s to maintain its leadership in a very competitive industry. (May I Take Your Order Please?; History in the Making – “Bites or Bytes”?) We’ve discussed its order-taking technology, its revolution to the breakfast market, the addition of sofas, fireplaces, WiFi, and large screen TVs, and its addition of boutique coffee offerings. To have watched McDonald’s evolve during difficult economic times can only make one ponder what may be next. You may be surprised!
Apparently, a new North Carolina McDonald’s will include, believe it or not, electric vehicle (EV) recharging stations, part of the ChargePoint network. Now you can enjoy your Extra Value Meal and Latte Macchiato while your car battery is being recharged. Consider the cross-marketing potential … it’s endless. Current EVs take a couple of hours to recharge, so McDonald’s has a captive audience to buy meals, desserts and boutique coffee drinks while they get comfy on a sofa, work on their computer and take in a ball game in front of a cozy fireplace while they wait for their recharge. Look for discounts on fill-ups with meals. Anything’s possible at Mickey D’s. And with more than 30,000 locations worldwide, what company is better placed to establish a recharging network? Before you know it, McDonald’s will be refueling those new green vehicles that have been retrofitted to run on french fry grease. Laugh today for the day will come when you look back on the good ole days of the simplistic Happy Meal.
Flying RyanAir – Better Get in Shape!
RyanAir is a combination of court jester and Scrooge McDuck in the airline industry. It cuts corners to save dollars like nobody else and yet its ideas challenge you to take RyanAir seriously. I told you about its “no frills” philosophy in a previous article (Boo Hoo – Can’t Afford the Loo!), which included charges for food, soft drinks and even water; it hawks bingo cards and duty-free goods during its flights; its seats do not recline, there are no seat back pockets and it offers no window shades; and it is considering charging to use the bathroom.
Now RyanAir has done it again. It has announced plans to cut costs even further by getting fliers to carry all their bags and suitcases through security departure lounges and directly to the plane rather than checking them in. They can carry aboard one piece of hand luggage, but leave any other baggage beside the aircraft to be loaded into the hold. They then pick it up the same way on arrival.
RyanAir chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “You can bring unlimited bags as long as you can get them through security. What it means is no more waiting at the carousel, no more losing your bags, no more wasting your life in over-priced airport terminals.” The move—scheduled for next spring—would mean a plane would need just one baggage handler, instead of five, he said. It is expected this will save RyanAir approximately $42 million a year (American currency).
But wait … it’s far from finished! Ireland’s RyanAir, along with Spring Airlines, a four-year-old carrier that calls itself China’s first low-cost airline, is seeking permission from their government aviation regulators to reconfigure their planes to allow some stand-up seats! Standing passengers would be safely strapped to stools or railings and would, of course, pay less than their conventionally seated fellow travelers. Talk about “Standing Room Only”!
Removing seats to accommodate standing passengers could increase capacity on domestic flights up to 50%. Even if standing passengers paid lower fares, the result would be an increase in revenue per flight. It would also let airlines lower costs by allowing them to offer fewer flights and employ fewer works.