As the editor – in – chief of the International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Management in the ...IJTHMDA) I am always concerned when one of our hospitality and tourism industries is catalyst to a triggering event that causes irreversible actions, possibly damaging the reputation of all related industries. Often it is the corporate culture that is positioned in all stakeholders' minds in a particular segment or specifically to a company. With this incident, United has generated a social media discussion topic across all interconnected nations with consequences that have yet to be developed and dealt with including, in my opinion, Government regulatory intervention.         

 

  1. The airline industry is integral to the hospitality and tourism industry and therefore, anything  that negatively affects one sector will automatically affect others. That is “we are in the service industry” and it is all about pleasing people. I describe the entire industry as “the places and spaces and their means where guests/ customers can stay, use and enjoy, against a form of payment, all service and amenities and feel as little as possible separated from their traditional habits, enhanced by a positive experience during the encounter.  Obviously United Airline proved that in this instance it failed greatly making all related service industries rushing to look at their policies in order to avoid similar disastrous events.

 

  1. The consequences are severe: loss of money, damage to their brand, reputational damage beyond repair and loss of loyalty among existing customers.

The airline industry, like all other hospitality industries/ segments are businesses based on perishable inventory. This means that if a flight has X empty seats, those seats cannot be sold again, they are gone, just as hotel bedrooms or even seats in a movie theater.   Most importantly, the hospitality and tourism industries are immediately impacted by any negative event that triggers customers to act/ react as a result of the perception of being personally affected by the cause of such triggering event.

In sum, this is not the best representation of “Customer Service Experience” we like to see in our industries. United has a lot of work ahead to heal this self-inflicted wound.  

Angelo Camillo, PhD

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