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What airlines can learn from the cruise business

There are reasons why cruises are outpacing airline growth

RT: After a recent cruise, it struck me that the airline business may be able to learn something about customer service if they look at a related travel business: cruising. We were very happy with the service, food, etc. during a recent Carnival Cruise. What do you think?

Answer: Carnival Cruise Lines is far from the most upscale of its ilk but recently it set up check-in desks at Miami’s airport to let passengers leaving on cruises from South Florida to get their travel arrangements before they even arrive to meet their cruise date. This is only one example of how cruise lines have, including far more upscale lines, have tried to make their product more and more convenient to cruisers.

Sure, airlines have introduced various self-help check-in procedures and other supposedly customer friendly services but these all have one thing in common: they are more convenient for the airlines than for passengers.

Of course, cruises have grown at a fantastic rate in recent years. And airlines have also seen rapid growth, it should be noted. But while cruises are known for making travel easier, airlines are far better known (notorious, in fact) for adding new and often hidden fees.

Both cruise outfits and airlines have offered special prices as inducements. But when it comes to offering customer comfort across the board -- everything from simple booking to getting help with luggage and other matters -- the cruise industry has been a leader. That helps explain why the cruise business has been even faster growing than the airline business. But it does not explain why the airlines can’t also find ways to make the travel experience a lot more comfortable.

Have they really been trying?

Posted by David Wilkening 14:12

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