time & $ & feelings

originally published here:  https://medium.com/@kathl2en_/time-feelings-36106a031e4c

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This trade group’s study claims that travelers’ frustration around possible delays/cancellations and constant & excessive airline fees (bag fee/boarding fee/breathing clean air fee) resulted in 38 million avoided domestic flights in 2013, to the tune of nearly 36B in total loss to the economy.

I don’t know how they arrived at that number or what their survey methodology looked like (since it is not included, which is silly). I am also generally skeptical of consumer surveys (not as skeptical as Henry Ford or Steve Jobs was), but I appreciate the attempt to quantify the feelings customers have about travel.

The part I absolutely buy is this: “About nine out of 10 travelers said that in the past year, air travel has become either more of a hassle or stayed about the same.” Let’s not talk about the sloppy sentence but focus on the idea.

My time and money feel worthless to the airlines and everyone in the airport when I fly, as I did this week. I’m prepared to pay forever more for declining quality (even wrt coffee — airport Starbucks are more expensive and always seem to taste even more burnt than my last visit). And I get more transparency and information about how my time will be spent fromthird party services scraping data than from the airline I booked with.

This personal dissatisfaction on a large scale = opportunity, which is part of the reason people start travel businesses like mine.

The other part?

Yesterday I read a reflection from Leslie Jamison about self-promotion and loved the way she concluded her thoughts. Why do we make things, then suffer discomfort to get those things out into the world? Simply put: so that people consuming our things react to them personally.

Don’t get me wrong — I get excited when an important person tells us they like our market and our team is deep (I know, they are *everything*).

I am so proud when my old boss sends me a short email exclaiming that our site is ‘beautiful!’

But what brings me to the brink of tears is genuine hugs from customers that were strangers a few months ago. Short emails tapped out while taxiing.

Those customer bursts fuel my imagination. Customer enthusiasm is what will power HelloCar into a huge, *hospitable* rental car business, where our team (hopefully faces you remember) greets you quickly and warmly, respecting your time…restoring your control over your universe. We want tofeel the opposite of opaque pricing and fees, unpredictable delays and cancellations. If we can keep giving that feeling, we can make trips better for a slice of the many millions of people that rent at airports annually, and we can perhaps recapture some avoided trips.

Even today, when we’re not anywhere near the scale to service one million trips annually, much less 38, I know there are short trips our customers have made because of us — because they tell me.

Feelings are at the core of many decisions around travel (and plenty of other industries). Feelings and passion are not outside of business.

 

Kathleen MeilComment