There Is An Airline Doing It Right!

PorterThis post is in praise of airline customer service and an overall EXCELLENT air travel experience.  Yes, really.  A positive one.

A few weeks ago my husband and I were looking for an easy, seamless ski vacation that didn’t involve driving 8 hours to Vermont or flying out west and battling the altitude, the time change and a cross-country flight.  We decided on the ski resort Mont Tremblant which looked to be just the right fit for us, but what sealed the deal was that a small Canadian airline called Porter flew direct between Newark and the local Tremblant International airport.  I liked their tagline, “Flying Refined,” and the price was comparable to other commercial airlines, so we pulled the trigger.

I have never had a more pleasurable flying experience.

Porter flights don’t have a business or first-class section, which means no priority boarding (unless you are infirm or travelling with small kids) and their in-airport customer lounges are open to all customers.  Here you can relax with FREE wifi, a bottle of water, some yummy snacks and even make yourself a coffee, cappuccino or espresso – in a real cup.  Like in Italy.  My husband and I slugged two each before hopping on board.

Once airborne, we had a very short flight to Tremblant (1:10), except that we had to take three approaches to land in what looked like a shoveled driveway in the middle of the snowy wilderness.  (Pretty standard for the more remote airports in Quebec, or so I’ve been told.)  After each of two failed attempts to land, there was a brief announcement from the pilot about visibility and then the stewardess came down the aisle with additional information, including a contingency plan to go to another airport should visibility not improve.  We all felt informed and even the nervous fliers on board weren’t alarmed because we knew exactly what was going on.  Very civilized.

Fortunately, the third time was the charm and we landed easily on our final approach, hopped a shuttle to the resort and had a great vacation.  But then, another inevitable polar vortex of weather was threatening to hit Newark airport on Sunday, so we made the decision to try and get on an earlier flight home, just in case.

When placing the call early Sunday morning, I steeled myself for a long wait, inevitable extra charges and possibly a flat out “no.”  I mean, this was a small airline with limited flights.  After approximately 8 minutes we were booked on a new flight with a short layover in Toronto – no extra charges, no drama.  The nice Canadian lady even apologized that our trip would be cut short by a few hours.  (Really?)

I’m not a fan of layovers, but Porter flies out of Billy Bishop International Airport in downtown Toronto (with regular shuttles to downtown Toronto, which is just a few hundred yards across the water) and is the only airline to use that airport, making international transfers as easy as walking down the hallway.  This also means that the whole airport is actually a Porter lounge, including a huge business center with computers, free wifi and an even nicer snack spread than Newark.  Porter is currently petitioning to have an ultra-quiet jet approved for landing at Billy Bishop (they currently fly only prop planes), which would allow the airline to fly to further destinations, including the Caribbean.  My fingers are crossed that this will go through – and that they will stop in Newark along the way…

I know it may seem silly that I was so floored by Porter’s cute lounges, good customer service and seamless flying experience.  I’m also not alone in recognizing that Porter is kicking butt in the airline space – they were awarded best small airline in the world according to Condé Nast Traveler’s 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards.

The thing is, flying has become torture for all of us in recent years, so when things go RIGHT, it feels like being given a gift.  This is a sad state of affairs, but it’s also an opportunity for airlines – should they deign to care about their silly customers – to set themselves apart from the pack with small, yet very important details.  Porter has certainly done that in spades.

Oh – and onboard snacks and wine were free…  What’s better than that?

internet-birthdayWhile the world took some time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web this week, I spent a few minutes speaking with some of Peppercomm’s finest digital minds: Charlie SouthwellSam FordJeff Simpson and Richard Ouyang. My goal: to reflect on the past and look to the future…

Be sure to check out their thoughts on The Innovation Mill!

Talenti-Gelato-Group-Shot

No matter the weather outside, i.e. a polar vortex, I love ice cream. Since moving to New York City, from New Jersey, I don’t purchase it as often because a pint is upwards of $6.00 in most grocery stores. The other day, I happened to pop into Gristedes to pick up a few things and saw that my favorite gelato, Telenti, was on sale for a steal at $4.00. I promptly picked out a pint of Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip.

Later that night, I scooped out a cup of ice cream and took the first bite. It was awful; it had a sandy texture without the crunch that usually accompanies it when you accidentally get some in your mouth at the beach. I decided to let Telenti know that something was wrong with the product. I hunted around the website for a phone number or email address but came up with nothing but a comment box. I hate filling those out; you know that your comment is probably one of two hundred that they receive on a daily basis, getting lost in oblivion. I did it anyway.

The next day, to my surprise, I received an email within less than 24 hours of submitting my comment. The rep asked me for the date and time stamp on the bottom of the pint and promised to look into the issue with the manufacturing department. She also asked for my address so she could mail me out complimentary coupons for another pint.

Marketers rely on brand loyalty, but it goes both ways. Consumers want to know we can trust in an organization when something goes awry. Although it wasn’t the best ice cream experience, because Telenti handled the situation the way they did, I am definitely still a fan. I was more than pleased with Telenti’s prompt reply, and eagerness to make sure that I was satisfied .This is the type of customer service consumers, look for and expect, when dealing with companies.

climbingWhat does mountain climbing have to do with leadership skills? Catharine discusses in her latest Innovation Mill Post:

Climbing the Corporate Ladder

 

Seriously Google, well done.  As a fan of a teaser campaign and someone always looking for new brand experiences, let alone an ultra-cool floating venue, I have been watching the mystery of the Bay Area Barge unfold.  Its amazing how well played this “stunt” was. cn-image-google-barge And,as marketers we know it could have gone so wrong.  Think about the planted light boxes in the Boston tunnels a few years back…oops.

Want to hear more, check out the following Inc. column written by Steve Cody that speaks to the good, bad and ugly of the marketing tease.

Cracking the PR Code of the Google Mystery Barge 

 

Late last week, news broke that a partner from the law firm Clifford Chance circulated a memo titled “Presentation Tips for Women” to the firm’s female associates. What’s that you ask? Why wouldn’t men and women find presentation tips helpful? Maybe because the majority weren’t actually presentation tips at all, such as “Wear a suit, not your party outfit.”  Check out this Repman post by Peppercommer Erin Howard for a female’s perspective.

The CEO Wears Prada (actually, YSL)What is one thing that Anna Wintour and Marissa Mayer DON’T have in common? The infamous Vogue editor-in-chief and The Devil Wears Prada inspiration does not like to be photographed in her magazine.

There has been much controversy over Marissa Mayer’s recent Vogue spread. Some critics say it was a narcissistic PR move that made her seem out of touch with her employees and played into the stereotype that women move up in corporate America solely because of their “assets.” Others say that the criticism shows a double standard and that women can be powerful and beautiful.

As the CEO of Yahoo, however, she is the face of the company and her public appearance should be cultivated with that in mind. This photo shoot may have been a great ego boost and earned points for her personal branding campaign, but it did little to benefit the tech giant.

Let’s look at some numbers. Earlier this year, Yahoo acquired Tumblr and has expanded advertising efforts to update its image to reach a younger demographic, specifically those between the ages of 18 and 34. According to Vogue’s media kit, the median age for its readers is 37.9. While a chunk of the readers still fall within Yahoo’s target age range, most of them do not.

But what about the other side of the coin? What about Vogue’s image? Fashion magazines, especially those of the high-fashion caliber of Vogue, are known for featuring skeletal models in couture ensembles and one-on-one “intimate” interviews with celebrities that coincide with the timing of their latest box office hit or album. Despite the criticism of Mayer for agreeing to such a superfluous media engagement, I think it was a smart move on the publication’s part.

As someone who originally thought her career was going down the road of civil engineering, I like to see that women can be science-savvy, fashionable, successful in business instead of entertainment—and thus Vogue-worthy. There were certainly less provocative poses that the photographers (and Mayer) could have agreed to, but after all it IS Vogue.

Mayer’s interview may have confirmed much of what we’ve heard about her personality and lack of humility, but we have to give her credit for her ambition and drive. Most importantly, we should give Vogue credit for an unconventional focus and underlying message to its readers that you can be smart and sexy.

When Folk Meets Funny

I have officially converted, thanks to Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, Will Forte and Jason Bateman. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that I am referring to the “Hopeless Wanderer” music video. I was never a huge Mumford & Sons fan, but that all changed when my favorite funny men took the barnyard stage to impersonate the band members in their latest music video. I may not have been initially drawn in by the band’s music, but their sense of humor definitely got me.

Aside from the goofy dancing and over-the-top rock star destruction antics, what made this performance so hilarious and share-worthy? The top comedians will tell you that the best punch lines are those that are unexpected—and that certainly explains this video. For a band that has built its brand on a laid-back, folksy demeanor, being impersonated by four comedians is definitely out of character. And it is SO entertaining.

I have watched the video and heard the song so many times, that I now know most all of the words and have even branched into listening to a few of the band’s other songs. And I’m not the only one. This video has been posted, reposted, shared, liked, and tweeted with the caption, “Whether you are a fan or not, you must check this out.”

This was a brilliant marketing move for Mumford & Sons. Not only does it appeal to their existing fans, but it gave many skeptics (like me, admittedly), a reason to sit down and immerse ourselves in the music. Now the question remains – what will they do for their next video?

Creative marketing and PR is all about putting a creative spin on something that already exists. Take NYC’s new Citi Bikes, for instance. Comedian Fabrizio Goldstein, known to the comedy world as The Fat Jew, is helping to build his own brand by literally spinning the docked  bicycles along the street for impromptu SoulCycle sessions. His antics have been featured on the Huffington Post, New York Magazine and The New York Daily News. Find out more about how Goldstein is making an impact in my blog, “The New Spin on SoulCycle” on StandupExecutive.com.

girl-reading-with-pug-charles-barber1

Most 20 somethings are addicted to technology.  When commuting on any subway or train, nine times out of ten you’ll see millennials glued to their e-readers, iPads or iPhones.  Not me.  Find out what differentiates me from my peers by checking out my blog, “FYI to My Fellow Millennials: Print is cool,” on Repmanblog.com.