The commercial airline industr…
The commercial airline industry has grown and changed tremendously over the last four or five decades. Southwest has many strengths and weaknesses, but every company has their strengths and weaknesses. Southwest can safely say that they have many things that they do that are not used in most other airlines. This includes; not charging extra for baggage or fees for changing travel schedules, and offering a sizable amount of in-flight entertainment. The company also only hires candidates that have certain traits, attitudes, and behaviors.
They also send their new recruits to their own university. I believe that Southwest is a company that caters to families. To start, Southwest’s employees are a strength to the company because having employees who have certain attitudes can be a great thing for any company. The hiring process that Southwest employs is that the employees should be a good team player, have a good sense of humor, and treat others with respect. The Southwest flight attendants cater to a family-based style because they have a good sense of humor and treat others with respect. This can show children that Southwest is a good option to choose when they grow older and have families of their own. I believe that this is a competitive advantage for Southwest because having good employees will make your customers happy and they will keep coming back.
Furthermore, I would say that their advertising campaigns are the best among the other airline companies in the industry. The “bags fly free” advertising that they have done is great for their business. It helped them in the recent recession of 2008-2009 and it will continue to help when times of financial recession occur. The company uses advertising to show special fare sales to fill seats that would otherwise be empty. I think that this overall would lower the price of tickets sold for flights and helps with having lower operating costs per customer-per mile. Moreover, the “bags fly free” campaign, to me looks good to families who want to travel around the country, because they don’t have to pay for their checked bags. Southwest helps families who have small kids by allowing their parents to check car seats and strollers for free.
This can help families who might be poor but need to travel to a funeral or other event across the country. The sizeable amount of electronics or things to do during a flight helps keep the kids in line too. Non-stop or point-to-point flights cost more but there is no need to use a hub for the flights, so there is less travel time. This system caters to families, because parents with children don’t want to be waiting at an airport terminal for their plane to arrive where one of their kids may get bored and go stir crazy. This kind of flight can cater to business people too because like families, they don’t want to wait either. In addition, the company’s use of one aircraft type can help them save on maintenance costs and costs with training the employees that work on and maintain the aircraft. It can save the company money because the company needs less warehousing space for replacement parts.
I think they have a partnership with Boeing, and having a partnership with an airplane manufacturing company can give you advantages, and in Southwest’s case, they get Boeing’s newest airplanes first. As well as having only one type of aircraft, it could also be a weakness because while Southwest Airlines has international flights, they would need to probably buy bigger aircraft to fly overseas. They acquired AirTran, but the amount of passengers Southwest gets from international travel shown in the case is a small amount towards dominating the international areas they fly. To go along with the weakness that they are not flying internationally, they do have flights to places nearby like places in the Caribbean and Mexico, but they don’t really get any international customers. On the other hand, this could be better for them because they can focus on the United States and its customers there. This is in fact what I think they are doing, and they are dominating the airline industry in the US. Having longer international flights would also mean that they may have to go back to the drawing board for how they are going to serve food and beverages on the plane, or tell its customers that there is a new practice for international flights.
They would also probably need to change their operating strategy too, because of new languages, cultures, and laws and regulations they would need to deal with. Another weakness is the fact that Southwest has only one class of seating available to its passengers. This isn’t bad for families since they don’t really want to sit in business class seating with their children. Business people who are traveling and may have their trip paid for would rather have a seat in a business or first-class area than in the coach area, so they would have enough room for work, and wouldn’t be bothered by children. I think that business and first-class seating would probably gain additional revenue for the company even if they had only a few seats per flight. In fact, purchasing tickets for Southwest may be a hard task to overcome for some people because depending on if you are booking flights connecting to other airline companies, you may have to go through a travel agency. Going through travel agencies will cost more because of the fees that go with it.
I think that if I were to do it this way it would give me a hard time finding the right flight. Also, traveling with Southwest you need to check in 24 hours before your flight to get your boarding position, and it seemed to me to be on a first come first serve basis. So, if you were a little behind, or slow with the process, you would get a boarding position where you would have fewer seats to choose from when boarding your plane the next day. Southwest also has a pretty bad weakness for families, and that is the fact that they don’t provide passengers with transfer services. Again, families would have a hard time moving all over the airport with their children. Moving around the airport also takes time, so if a customer wanted to book a flight with transfers, they would want to leave at least 30 minutes in between transfers to get to baggage claim and onto their next flight. This also leaves less time for a meal, snack, or something else before their next flight.
Southwest’s key elements to its culture, is the fact that way back in the early days of the company when Herb Kelleher took the role of CEO, he did many things to help the company’s culture become what it is today. He would make it a point to work with the company’s employees and find the weaknesses and problems within the company. As part of a quote, he said, “You have to treat your employees like your customers.” Employees come first, and since you treat your employees like customers they will treat the company’s customers well. In this way, you would be benefiting both your employees and customers, instead of just your customers. I think that overall this is a great competitive strategy for them because working side-by-side with your employees makes them feel better. To me, I think most employees like that kind of boss.
To conclude, most of the strengths of Southwest are towards families because that is the kind of company they want to be. It’s not a bad thing but business people should be involved too. Overall, I think that Southwest Airlines will continue to flourish and become an improved company in the next decade.