When was the last time you paid to go to the toilet?
If you live in London (where there are 40% less public toilets than 1999), you might benefit from pubs, shops and department stores joining the mayors toilet campaign.
I mean, why maintain the cisterns from the public purse, when the private sector will let you use their fancy facilities?
Marvelous cost efficiency…
Meantime in the private sector, the Ryanair toilet debacle rages on.
In recent months Ryanair has (in my view), conducted a textbook PR campaign, drip-feeding the press stories on their new cost cutting plans.
Everything from charging to use toilets, passengers carrying their own bags to the plane, through to stripping out standard seating for bar stools to get up to 30% more people on board.
Whether or not you agree with the sentiment behind the stories, they have certainly kept Ryanair in the press, and generated a significant amount of free coverage.
But what impact does this have on their brand?
BrandRepublic recently commissioned some vox pops, that asked prospective travellers how they felt about charging passengers to use the toilet.
Responses (as you’d expect) range from, “its ridiculous” and “its horrific”, through to “I am not really bothered, they are no-frills, you get what you pay for”.
I don’t want to ramble on, but just a few things from me…
- Ryanair are a no-frills airline. You don’t expect free peanuts, wine, etc. If you have to pay to use most UK public conveniences, why should a toilet on board a plane be any different?
- Most flights are short haul, with plenty of opportunities in the airport to use free facilities. Given this, what’s the fuss about? Go before you go!
- Like most other sectors, one brand tends to be bold, innovate, take risks. The others follow. How many other airlines will quietly adopt Ryanairs policies after a few months?
I can’t help but feel it’s a little too easy to knock Ryanair for this.
Ultimately, they are a no-frills airline; the business model has always relied on a totally different pricing structure in order to make / increase / maximise profits.
With the travel sector suffering across the board (and even BA reviewing their peanuts and wine policy), it’s going to be a tough year.
But, I can’t help feeling that this won’t harm Ryanair significantly in the short / medium term.
Some people will never fly Ryanair as they simply don’t do low cost. Some will still go with whomever is cheapest, and others will base their decision on airport / ease of access to final destination.
Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough. And given the amount of coffee I’ve had this morning, I am off to spend a penny…
Iain Morrison is a senior marketer in the British Tourism Industry. And is wondering if there will be free loo roll, or will that be 20p extra?
Many brands (and marketers) struggle to grapple with the true reality of digital marketing.
In a landscape that’s ever changing, with technology improving daily, consumers constantly seeking our new and exciting ways to interact with each other (and manage their relationships with brands), the pace of development to some can be daunting. To others, exhilarating…
For any of you reading this that work in marketing and feel as though you could do with dusting down your digital skill set, head over to the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) who run some great seminars and training courses to help brand owners (and agencies) deal with the ever changing playing field. Best part, is they are free to advertisers and members…
One marketing department that could do with popping over for tea and biscuits with the chaps over at the IAB is Ryanair, who have two big negative PR stories in the press this week. A ‘so what’ for brands under the old rules, but as we know, the old rules of brand management no longer apply…
One Jason Roe (a web developer by trade), put a post on his blog claiming he’d found a way to cheat certain pricing elements on the Ryanair website.
The following chain of events could be categorised as unfortunate, but they do clearly demonstrate how certain brands simply do not understand how to engage with their customers in a relevant and meaningful way in the digital space.
As yet unnamed Ryanair staff responded (quite negatively) to his blog post. This included calling him a liar, telling him they could hack his site and do what they wanted with it, the list goes on.
Not the most customer friendly response…
In the olden days we had the old adage of a good experience being shared with two or three close friends, and a bad experience being shared by eight or nine. These days however, the potential for an irate customers to spread the word are almost infinite.
After being picked up in the press, the official Ryanair response was;
‘Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion. It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won’t be happening again’.
Again, a clear demonstration that the brand ands its stewards do not understand the potential of the web, and the damage just a few individuals can very quickly wreak on the brand.
What started as an innocent blog post first set the blogosphere alight.
It was then picked up by the press, the fallout from the official response picking up even more column inches. All the while there are tweets a plenty, facebook on fire. The list goes on, all adding fuel to the fire…
The blog was the tip of the iceberg.
As this grew, the negative perception of the brand travelled at speed with it. Jason’s blog alone has 450 comments at last count. Now, factor in the way this has travelled across the social networks, email, the wider media.
The potential for this single negative brand experience to be swiftly shared with many and prolong the damage to the brand is truly enormous. We’re certainly talking a lot more than the eight or nine people we used to share a negative experience with in the ‘good old days’.
Smart brands engage. Provide a forum where irate customers can vent. But what separates the wheat from the chaff? The brands that use that very forum as a space to deal with the issues presented.
Turning that negative into a positive, ensuring angry consumers don’t ‘do a Jason Roe’, instead re-invigorating their love for your brand / product, ensuring they remain a true brand ambassador. And preferably spreading the good word.
With a little careful management and a considered response from HQ, this could have been dealt with very, very quickly.
However, it was closely followed up with the negative press surrounding the possibility of people having to spend £1.00 to use Ryanairs’ onboard toilets.
Another PR clanger.
And as such, the Jason Roe story rumbles on, all the while leaving the hangar doors open to more negative brand exposure. I think it’s fair to say this hasn’t been the best week for Ryanair…
Iain Morrison is a senior marketer in the British Tourism Industry. Whilst his personal views don’t reflect that of his organisation, I can’t imagine there are too many of us out there keen to spend a pound in order to spend a penny.
Idiot blogger signing off…