41209364_thumbnailAnother day, another “limited-time” promotion …

Nov. 4, 2015: Need a pick-me-up? We’re serving a double shot of savings with up to 45% off base fares.  And today only, we’re sweetening things up with an extra 20% on top for fall and winter travel. With all that energy, you’ll want to book your extra savings by midnight tonight!

Funny enough, just two days prior, Porter offered a similar holiday sale!

Nov, 2, 2015: Take the chill off with these piping hot savings! Today, you save up to 40% off base fares for fall and winter travel. And, we’re giving you an extra serving of 20% on top of the public sale. Don’t let these savings get cold. Book by midnight tonight!

Aside from the catchy rhymes, Porter’s endless stream of promotions for those booking directly seems to undervalue the customer experience, as it engages in an endless price war against itself. This isn’t a one-off situation, as Porter has been pursuing this same strategy for a few years. In fact, just over the past couple of weeks, similar emails were sent out on October 29, 28, 16, 24, 22, 16 … you get the hint.

By now, it would be foolish for anyone to buy a Porter ticket that is not on sale—assuming they are ever not on sale. The prospect theory suggests that the key factor in highlighting incredible value is what people expect. While putting something on sale may make it seem like a good deal, if it is always on sale, people start to adjust their expectations.

To make matters worse, these promotions are often minimal and quite frankly offensive for those frequent Porter flyers. If the regular emails still excite and engage customers, the actual deals have the opposite, disappointing effect.

While this may seem like a rant, don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge Porter Airlines fan and a VIPorter Passport member (looks like I’ll be one roundtrip flight short of Priority, the top status level). The company offers a great value proposition in its ability to fly in and out of downtown Toronto, ensuring its business travelers make it to their downtown meetings without having to drive through traffic to or from Toronto’s primary airport, 30 to 60 minutes from downtown Toronto. Rates when buying directly from Porter are reasonable and the routes are continuously expanding to more and more destinations. Experience in the Porter lounge and aboard its flights (lounge access for everyone, complimentary snacks, wine and beer), which hasn’t changed much in the past few years, remains quite enticing.

Recently, Porter has changed up its loyalty program to mimic those of other airlines and has missed an opportunity to further differentiate. The above offers are sent to anyone who’s simply signed up for a Porter account, regardless of status. 

Here’s a suggestion: Why not offer these rates and promotions to customers based on their loyalty and in doing so, making them more enticing offers? Yes, I’m not suggesting anything revolutionary, merely going back to what frequent-flier programs used to be in the ’70s and early ’80s. 

All said, loyalty programs are simply one of many tools airlines can leverage to improve the customer experience—a topic for another day. 

Fly safe!

Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger, 2012

Topics: Loyalty Programs, Travel and Transportation, Alain Boutros, Discounts, Retail, Revenue Management