I keep telling people that you have to understand your business model, you got to understand your “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP). But then I fall in the same trap. Implying “initial” understanding…
We recently had a discussion on this with […] on CheckIn.com and found them to have a typical misunderstanding, considering us “competitive”… Say what?
So yes, it brings up the question: What’s our USP… And why are we not competitive to anyone? What makes our dashboard “different” (unique)? And why is it so difficult to make professionals understand…?
It seems simple enough.
It’s not the “MIDT”
Current “solutions” focus on flight data (MIDT, etc.). We focus on passenger potentials. And thinking further down the road; our “route level” will focus on commercial relations between the regions, ethnic traffic (VFR, visiting friends & relatives) as well as Tourism (taking into account the hotelrooms per population). We believe (from own airport and route development experience) that flight data is for established routes, but nevertheless require – other – experts to analyze. As they also relate to frequencies, flight times, air fares, reputation, and other “soft factors”.
But we look on the ground.
Own experience: A low cost carrier “cannibalized” a regional aviation route, the regional carrier was forced out. A year later, the route was dead. For the flight profile was on a double daily, small airplane, business travel. The low cost tried triple weekly, big aircraft, low fares, tourists. Sorry, no tourists that route…
So don’t put us in the box “passenger review”. This is new. Our tools are especially useful on routes without any previous flight operations, without comparable flights from neighboring airports. When “MIDT & Co.” leave you in the blind.
The Isochrones People
It’s not really about Isochrones either (though we call ourselves The Isochrones People). Where common Isochrones usually are results of more or less creative guesswork and simply look at how far you get in 30, 60, 90 minutes driving from the airport, their source data is usually on county level or worse, often the figures do not compute with our own findings – not even close. So what’s the source and do you trust it?
Just some examples from public sources, what we had to deal with:
It took us four years (out of five) to compile our data sources, test, throw away, dig into them, correct them (usually very much) and compile the sources in a way we can reuse them without too much work. Because every year there are changes, communities merging, splitting, renaming, …
Find solutions to calculate mass drive times. Where the commercial services limit to 1 million requests a year (at a fortune), we have that number in a few weeks. So we use commercial “standalone” solutions like the logistics industry uses, but still – running a country takes some days of pure computing time.
Still having some bugs, using commercial software for the mapping caused the maps to be close to unusable in Eastern Europe. Not professional for sure. So we had to relaunch. Now we use Open Street Map with a mix of their data and mapping data we receive from the countries. Which differ from what the commercial map providers sold us, but “suddenly” and to our expressed delight fit the statistical sources we use. And the bugs we solve one by one.
Wonder why no-one did our stunt before? Wonder why we think no-one (in his/her right mind) will? Above is your answer. But was that really necessary?
Eyesight for the Blind…
From our experience and that of the experts out there supporting us (airlines, airports, and their consultants), we know there is need for understanding the local customer base. And highly expensive, often outdated analyses of questionable quality at exorbitant prices. So yes, we think our services are needed. And if you don’t use them, you remain blind on one eye.
So what’s our USP again?
We’re not just polishing your Crystal Ball as I keep saying. We expand your vision and understanding to what’s truly important. But wasn’t yet available for no-one dared to address the complexity behind it. So trust the airport they know their market? The best you could do. Now we do better. We qualify their impressions with hard data.
And we make it comparable.
And that’s why we don’t compete with the flight data providers. We do something new. We do the other side of business. The hard one ツ
Seen our demo yet? Three airports. Full analysis. Free to use. But we have almost 600 more: https://www.CheckIn.com/
We’ll debut at Routes and hope to speak to many of you. It’s still “brand new” with cuts and edges. We will smooth them out and improve, we promise. But what we have was simply beyond imagination.
Until now. We launched.
Come. Have a look!
For many years, I use a graphic overlay in Germany in my presentations. I plan to make it available in CheckIn.com in the near future on a European level… I think it speaks for itself.
The influence on airports to purchasing power. Yes, it’s a hen-egg question, but a fact that politicians should think about. Here’s the latest. May it be useful for you too…3 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post
Following the acquisition by my employer delair by SITA, I was not allowed to maintain a personal blog until our parting of ways in February 2016.
With centralized communications, employees are not encouraged to run personal blogs or activities that are out of the control of the company. To my personal believe and in hindsight, it is an example how SITA uses the new communication channels: They’re stuck in the Industrial Age type and hold on to supply-driven information:
We push, because “mother knows best”.1 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post
Discussing Airport Development on a general and global scale lately with some renowned influencers in this industry, there were some thoughts, I would like to share today.
Who’s the Customer?
It was rather fascinating to discuss the “customer” issue with airports recently. Though despite we all know that we compete about the passengers, the airline is just as much a customer of the airport as are ground handling companies. As we published in our case study on Zurich’s new deicing management, one of the main cost savings factors, reflecting millions of savings (Euro, Dollar, …) comes from reduction of delay, faster recovery from overall delays or disruptions. With passengers and airlines alike benefiting from “pre-tactical” information.
Keeping the Status Quo
or why only the dead fish swims with the stream? There is a great tendency in our industry today to wait and see “others” and especially “the big ones” to invest in new technologies and try them. And only with many years of delays implement the investment into the own budget plans and maybe get it year(s) later. Be that the use of (free) WiFi at the airports for all customers or CDM developments to the benefit of airport operations – especially under adverse conditions.
Saving, no matter the cost
A common argument against the investment is that the status quo functions. Airlines are i.e. “used” to have major delays during and after winter events. The throughput is lower, flights must be cancelled, after disruptions, the recovery takes time. Zurich having saved +20 million Euros in one season alone by “managed” deicing is a good counter example. With other airports/airlines stalling the implementation of the tool for their airports/terminals “for cost reasons”. Sorry, I will never get used to burning the amounts of money our industry does. We invest into “customer experience” but don’t bother about reducing flight delays.
Collaboration vs. Silo
The global Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) and the Airports Council International have declared Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) a management matter, joining forces in the promotion of the concept. Now airports and airlines alike keep pointing out that they have no common data. A major U.S. airport disqualifying it with the example that they don’t even get an Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) or Departure (ETD) from their airlines. They learn of arrivals or departures once the aircraft is on approach or on engine start-up or pushback – thanks to kind information by the tower. The operator of a terminal at one major hub tells us, collaboration won’t work at their airport as the terminal operators strongly competing. Yes, there are workarounds possible (considering the controlled apron/tarmac area “the airport”), but as long as airlines and ground handlers keep up such self-understanding, we are a long way from “effective operations” or even a basic management of delays, disruptions and recovery.
In the discussion, we also talked about airport strategy. New airports are being build without giving consideration to A-CDM or TAMS (Total Airport Management, expanding A-CDM into the land side), but focusing on fancy design. (New) Nordic airports having trouble with the positioning of their deicing pads (also called “Central Deicing Facilities” or CDFs). Space for an “Airport Operations Control Center” (APOC) being later taken from existing office space, instead of pre-planning the necessity. Airport Operators like Avialliance, Vinci or even Fraport (a CDM-airport) focus on CDM locally, instead of considering solutions that improve the airport group. Just some thoughts on the issue as we discussed it and I joggled down my notes…
Food for Thought
Okay. So I turned 50 this year. And aside a major C-Check that will make me take additives for lost hardware and discuss health issues with friends and strangers alike? Aside being a dirty old man? Am I useless?
Why should I be?
I still will likely work another 15 years at minimum – maybe 20 or more! Many retirees are still fit to work and get bored if they don’t. The majority of students taking up their first new job will be with the company less than five years in the end. Inexperienced and with low salaries companies invest heavily to train them on the jobs they do (or risk to invest into their mistakes). Whereas you can hire experienced people who know their jobs, make less (costly) mistakes and who have a “knowing” touch, usually good for building trust with new customers or prospects.
Now we also have less and less young people entering the market here in Europe, as well as the U.S. Politicians and commercial bodies paint the picture of lack of junior employees. At the same time, they send their experienced workers home at relatively young age. Or disqualify them as employees as “too expensive” or “less resilient”. It’s the same issue about the demand of an “academic degree” for all employees. Misjudging and neglecting the value of “practical experience”. And yes, that also goes to you Marisa Meyer, whereas I also enjoy similar such personal experience with Lufthansa Group…
What really bugs me about this, is that even renowned entrepreneurs and investors often disqualify older entrepreneurs from their support activities, very often, activities address “young professionals”, “under 30” and enjoy other such limitations. The same is true in talks, where “older” entrepreneurs are faced with far higher “expectations” and demands and still don’t get the investment but “hip” high risk investments by teams without any professional experience do. I believe the time to disqualify experience or “gray hair” are over soon. If companies look for good people, they will have to pay more for the few “young professionals” left, who proof to be less loyal and require more mistakes to become experienced. And I know of too many experienced people as well as honor students leaving “bad paid” aviation or not even interested to start in it, as motivation and loyalty are no one-way-street and other industries simply proof more attractive to them than ours.
Oh… And didn’t I just hear Germany became Champion again? In the f#%@ing lowest birth rate in the world!!! Well, that does confirm my own experience about “political child support” by our self-proclaimed “Christian-Democratic Union” led by our Chancellor Merkel. And no, I do not want to talk about “atomic exit”, Greece or “lobbyism” in Germany today. We just have a family tax system that supports DINKs (double income – no kids), but increasingly forces single parents into poverty. With the demographic results shown. So what was that again about 50+? Im now beyond 50. And happy 😀
Just screening all those wisdoms my friends keep sharing on LinkedIn and Facebook, here one from own experience…
People do not want to admit mistakes.
Developing online booking tools back in the 90s, when no-one (especially not Amadeus, Sabre, etc) believed in it, I learned that lesson good: Business travelers wanted to make the bookings with their travel department. But they wanted to CHANGE the booking themselves (online). Asked, why that is, it was simply that they considered the need to change a booking a “mistake”. No matter if the change was enforced to them. It also showed how important it was to them to keep face with their travel arrangers.
Food for Thought
Braunschweig, March 2015 Thanks to unforseen circumstances, the last days forced us to reconsider the entire development and timeline for the CheckIn.com project. So far, it was planned to be ready with development by February, Mid March and prepare for rollout at Routes Europe in April in Aberdeen. We have now decided to cancel that event overall, a hard and unhappy decision! But. Especially to digg out the U.K. statistical basics caused us major delays, getting incompatible figures from the same source, not just self-researched but also from the ONS (U.K. Office of National Statistics). We learned they mostly only cover England & Wales, neither Scotland or Northern Ireland. Sure with exceptions, which, if you’re kept unaware, simply cannot compute!
Scotland does not cover the Local Administrative Units Level 2 of Eurostat, they consider those useless and calculate “something” only on demand. Ireland came last (by end of February) and again with non-standard numbers we now have to “make compatible”. To qualify the difficulty to get the basics for the U.K.: Covering geographic Europe, including Balkan countries and other non-EU countries, the U.K. made it a multitude more difficult for us to get some useful information.
Another issue is drive times, where we have to deal with the fact that “unique administrative places” are not being found either in Google, nor by other on- and offline mapping tools. Often, road data is missing completely, making it impossible to calculate any drive times. Especially going east that caused us quite some headaches (and night shifts). So now finally, though with already some delay, we have everything covered. But we recognize that “mapping” is a major fuzziness, if we go with existing technologies – we should buy into commercial collections of administrative borders, though which also don’t completely match with the data we are having.
So January 1st, we started the crowdfunding on Indiegogo, hopeful to get enough interest to finance the necessary development. Generating interest and funds mostly from unexpected sources, by early February our hopes shattered, our friends leaving us out alone in the cold. Very little buzz, not even supportive comments to us, even from our close friends, ad sure no orders for Isochrones. A real nice classic barrel burst. Simply dead silence. Not a bad thing, in fact it confirmed our initial approach to go in a step-by-step process, fund as we can, do what we can, but not to rely on investors (requiring fast return-of-investment, having their own agendas) and do “ourselves”.
Then came the shock. Within days, Jürgen went into sickleave, undergoing a major surgery Feb 27th, taken completely out of the loop for the better part of 14 days and being still hospitalized (4th week), depriving us from the most knowledgable and networked expert in our team. He is well now, still recovering, still hospitalized. The tumors identified turned out a haemangiome (as “known” since 2002) and a benign neuroendokrineous one.
So after recovering from the major surgery, he shall be almost as new (minus half a pancreas, the spleen and a bit of his liver and plus a possible diabetes). Celebrating his 50th birthday recently, he feels “old now” thanks to the fact that for the remainder of life he got to carry a pillbox and injection pens with him to cover for the lost half pancreas.
But the main setback is the delayed recovery; instead of the expected 10-14 days we now talk more about min. 4-5 weeks that we lost his support for. With all that baggage, we were faced with a tough decision. Do we keep up the plan to go live at Routes Europe? Or do we have to postpone? Especially with the desinterest showed for our crowdfunding, the missing funds to secure external development for the remaining solutions, problems with providing a solution for maps now and Jürgen’s missing help, we decided against Routes Europe and for a delay.
Having the drive time calculations completeted for Europe, we will now start to work on North America already. With the custom tool received by Richard Marsden, we are hopeful to get that covered maybe in time for World Routes, for sure until next Routes Americas. Having the solution for the most complex of our algorithms (thanks Ori) we are also pre-computing the impact values for each airport from the municipality-view. As in most cases the passengers have not just one airport, but optional others to choose from. Depending on the size of the airport, the drive time to get there as well as the flight services offered. But yes, it is quite a bit work and even computerized a real lengthy task to apply these algorithms to all the airport-municipality pairs…
For the maps, we now need to check “low cost solutions”, looking into Google (no “freebees” as Bing), offline mapping tools and maybe Open Street Maps. We assume this takes another 4-6 weeks minimum and we might have to use “offline mapping” as a work-around, with map-creation taking some additional “non-automated” time.
Without the admin borders, we think about a solution to quantify the passenger potential by municipality, thus making “hot spots” visible. Also something to keep us busy, but the benefits of not needing the municipal borders in the display justifying for that. We also got the funding to do a real good prototype of the dashboard, but it takes time to write the necessary software requirements specification.
Then we have to find a web-agency that can do it (the famous needle in the haystack problem). But without map(s), the dashboard is incomplete, so there must be some “placeholder” while we create the map(s). All those tasks we now have to do on our own finally summed up to the painful decision to reschedule the development plans and skip Routes. Which was especially hard on Jürgen to convince, who is a great fan of that event. We do hope you can understand the reasoning behind our decision and appreciate your feedback – supportive, critical, honest. And if you have ideas how to speed up our agenda, if you have reference to a real good web-agency, you are very welcome! Just a little bit
but as usual: comments welcome!