Warm Hearts, Business Smarts, or Both?

Sometimes I think people look too hard and too deep for the solution to a problem or challenge. More often than not, the resolution lies right in front of us … as evident as the nose on our face. Here’s another example taken from the headlines of today’s paper.

We all know that the airline industry is trying to cope with constant challenge and chaos from every direction. So how do they cope with this constant onslaught? They increase prices, under the guise of a bag fee, on an already heavily burdened customer base. They file for bankruptcy. They accept bailout money. They merge. They take away our pillows and peanuts. None of these ignorant strategies have come even close to a successful outcome.

However, every once in a while, you’ll find an organization that does something that seems very obvious, but apparently isn’t, which costs little or nothing, and results in indisputable success. We saw this with Southwest when it refused to charge a bag fee and enjoyed an increase in its share of the domestic market this past year by about 1%, which equated to about $100 MILLION dollars. Its competitors that introduced the aggressive bag fee lost money, market share and customer loyalty.

Now Air Tran joins Southwest in the execution of a very secretive strategy known by many as “uncommon sense.” What it did was:

  1. Very simple.
  2. Very thoughtful.
  3. Cost nothing.
  4. Brought happiness and a lasting memory to two people, their families and friends.
  5. Garnered incalculable publicity, exposure, and good will.

Take a look at the video link provided at the end of this article and you’ll see a very short, heart-warming story about a lovely couple who now have a fond airport memory they’ll never forget. Few can make that statement.

John Kilpatrick of Duluth, Georgia, knew his girlfriend was flying home to Dallas for the holidays. Unbeknownst to Erin, John slyly booked a flight which departed just prior to hers allowing him to arrive in time to be at her gate when she landed. He planned a simple, “drop-to-one-knee” proposal. To make certain all went smoothly, John confided in and requested assistance from the Air Tran ticket agent. Before he knew it, the agent had enlisted the help of the pilot and flight attendant on Erin’s flight.

On landing in Dallas, the pilot used the plane’s PA to request that Erin remain in her seat as the rest of the plane departed into the terminal. As soon as the plane emptied, John entered, walked to Erin’s seat, knelt and proposed … obviously stunning Erin as she thought he was still back in Georgia. Erin quickly accepted John’s proposal, and they left the plane and entered the terminal where all her fellow passengers were waiting and applauding!

How thoughtful of Air Tran! No cost, little effort, great outcome! Frosting on that wedding cake for Air Tran. Great publicity all over the Internet at no cost to them whatsoever … a little polish to that image in an industry that certainly needs it … and great memories for many who will continue to talk about that experience for years to come.

Why can’t other organizations use a little “uncommon sense” from time to time? It’s not really that difficult and the results are positive for everyone involved.

Watch this video clip and you’ll see what I mean!

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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