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When Did Travel Become a Commodity?


When Did Travel Become a Commodity?

When did it stop being an experience and more of a package, a deal, a search result?

Travel has turned into an obsession for the cheapest airfare, cheapest hotel room and pretty much the lowest, cheapest cost for anything and every thing related to travel.

Wasn’t so long ago that airlines, the most commodified of the travel experience were sufficiently different from each other that you could them apart.

Their were differences in food served, space between rows of seats, service, in-flight amenities.

Not any longer.

In their drive for quarterly profits, says veteran business traveler, Bruce Schoenfeld, airlines have sacrificed building long-term customer loyalty.

Writing in Entrepreneur Magazine Schoenfeld says that maximizing profits has been the driving force behind the airlines’ raison d’être for so long, it has “become integrated into their DNA.”

But the public is much to blame for the commodification of travel.

The public’s collective decision that price is just about the only thing that matters, allowed the airlines to discard amenities and courtesies, and concentrate solely on price, m indistinguishable from each other.

But there is a service that makes one airline preferable over another, especially during play-offs: live television, or more generally, in-flight entertainment systems.

Daily Finance says that there are more than 2000 commercial aircraft offering WiFi and related services, and those that don’t will lose customers

So Schoenfeld flew Frontier Airlines on a flight during the NCAA tournament, even though he enjoyed Executive Status on United Airlines.

Frontier has a DirectTV package. United doesn’t . So he watched the games on Frontier.

• Delta has WiFi, live TV and a strong movie and music library.

• United has no WiFi, no live TV and only 20 music channels.

• U.S.Airways has WiFi on some planes, no live TV, but some programming on longer flights.

Entrepreneur provides a convenient chart to compare these services.

But the point is, technology, not the food or the pillows, may be the last remaining differentiator among the look-alike and fly-alike airlines of today.

Enjoy the difference while you can.

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