Airlines Accused of Using Enhanced Elimination Techniques

In the early 1900’s, Ivan Pavlov found that dogs could be conditioned to salivate on demand, triggered by the simple ringing of a bell.

And now, over 100 years later, airline and hotel program marketing executives continue to test Pavlov’s theories, and have proven that otherwise rational human beings can be made to feel deep pangs of dread when hearing or reading the ostensibly positive words and phrases, “enhancement”, “improving” and “creating a new standard”.

…every time I get an email or see an announcement of an “enhancement” or “we’re improving”…. from an airline I begin to wonder what they’re taking away now. ~estnet

estnet is just one of thousands of victims subjects who have become increasingly annoyed by participated in this monumental longitudinal study conducted by marketing teams from nearly all of the major airline and hotel loyalty programs. The participants in the study have been subjected to countless emails, billboards, online advertisements, mailers and other forms of marketing communication over the course of several years. The marketing pieces typically include glowingly positive verbiage claiming that the members of the study themselves had “asked for these changes” and that the program in question “had listened” and was proud to offer the “enhancements”.

And then the participants are given an electric shock.

Haha … no … just kidding … sort of.

The shock comes in the form of the actual meaning of the message. Couched in the positive language is the announcement of reductions to the level of service and/or benefits that would be provided.

And how did/does that make the participants feel?

Enhancement=Improved bottom lines for airlines’ and hotels’ annual reports all the while lightening travelers wallets, yet leaving that empty feeling and callouses on their bottoms at the same time. ~blackjack-21

When I got back to back emails today from AA and US telling me how they are “creating a consistent First Class experience” it worried me. ~daninstl

I try to skip over the puffery/doublespeak/B.S. and just get to the meat of their emails, else I feel insulted. ~cchagadorn

Though the results are conclusive, and have been for several years, the study is ongoing.

In fact, if anything, the study seems to be ever-expanding, with terms like “complete dining experience” and “delicious” being added to the test.

Read the thread in its entirety: when you get an email starting “we’re enhancing….” do you start to feel fear?

Image: “Expensive freedom” Juan Tello. CC BY 2.0.

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