Large generic companies have stopped listening to their customers and think they know best, according to Katherine Gershon, Launch and International Development Director, Silverjet.
Addressing delegates at the Eyefortravel Travel Distribution Summit Europe 2007, in London, Gershon joined a panel of industry experts from First Choice, OnHoliday Group, Travelzest and TUI AG, to debate Scale Vs Specialisation.
The year 2006 saw dramatic changes in the travel distribution landscape, with a number of high profile buy-outs, mergers and take-overs, including the Travelport-Worldspan acquisition. This trend has continued into 2007 with the merger of tour operator giants Thomas Cook and MyTravel.
According to recent reports, BA is considering forming a consortium to launch a takeover bid for Spanish flag-carrier, Iberia in which it has a 10 per cent stake. BA and Iberia have long been considered likely merger partners amid increasing consolidation among European carriers.
Referring to the potential merger of BA and Iberia, Gershon claimed that consolidation has resulted in companies losing their focus: “Consolidation is a good thing for a small airline because it means that big companies are concentrating on merging and not delivering what customers want.”
Following two years of customer research and speaking to customer, all-business carrier Silverjet claims to differentiate themselves by delivering good service, value for money, flat-beds and a hassle-free airport experience. Gershon revealed that the new airline is now working on the next innovations.
Gershon also emphasised the power of marketing, drawing comparisons between Waitrose and Tescos. She pointed out that with the correct scale of marketing, customers will perceive smaller companies as big brands. “At Silverjet, we think big” she concluded.