FOXTROTS

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

December 31 2013

End-year. Travel definitions. My misogynous message.

Perhaps the end of the year is as a good a time to ruminate as any. Here are two observations from me. How mis-stated industry terminology is twisting analysis – ‘travel & tourism’, ‘LCCs and legacy airlines’.

‘Travel & Tourism’

My part in its downfall. I don’t want to spoil the fun (ok, yes I do), but it is time for me to comment on the phrase ‘travel and tourism’, which has become almost universal – even with otherwise intelligent people. The problem is the phrase is a meaningless nonsense.

I blame Geoffrey Lipman for ‘inventing’ the phrase for when he launched WTTC. But I accept that he had a special need – he could hardly call the new association ‘WTC’ because that would be too close to WTTC’s rival WTO, World Tourism Organization.

The reason T&T is a nonsense is that the word ‘travel’ includes everything – aviation, hotels, business travel, leisure travel, VFR, sports travel, religious tourism, medical tourism, so on and so on. ‘Tourism’ has no precise grammatical meaning, but colloquially most people would assume it to mean leisure travel, or holidays, or vacations. Not business travel.

Yet the World Tourism Organization (still its proper name, by the way, not UNWTO or UN World Tourism Organization) somehow managed to persuade experts in the discipline of travel statistics and analysis that ‘tourism’ should mean all types of travel – including business, leisure, and so on.

If you want to look, though, you can see that in most cases the WTO, and most others, still use ‘tourism’ in the sense of inbound travel only, and leisure travel only. But that is another story.

Back to T&T. If ‘travel’ means all types of travel, ‘and tourism’ means (according to the WTO) all types of travel, then what can ‘travel and tourism’ mean? You cannot have more than everything.

I famously asked David Scowsill, current head of WTTC, what was his definition of T&T in the association’s name. Would you believe, he more famously replied that he did not know!

Despite all this, I don’t think I am going to turn the world back to ‘travel’ (which is perfectly adequate), but I will still use ‘travel’ to mean all travel, and ‘tourism’ to mean leisure travel.

‘LCCs, legacy airlines’

More misnomers.

LCCs – low-cost-carriers.

-Dismiss ‘carriers’ for a start. Not very important, but the word should be ‘airlines’; ‘carriers’ is often used for others, such as ships, trucks, pigeons.

-‘Low-cost’. It means low-cost for the traveller; ie, low-fares. Not low-cost for the airline – for instance, Thai Airways is low-cost in comparison with Swiss Air. But what is the point when regular airlines also have low fares, and at certain periods their fares are lower than those on so-called LCCs?

‘Legacy airlines’, for regular airlines. Who thought that one up? I see where it is coming from but still, it makes no sense.

Fortunately, I have the answers that make it clear. Broadly, there are three types of airlines, enabling me to describe them as FSAs, LCAs, NFAs. My definitions:

FSA = full-service-airline. Offering first/business/economy, travel agency bookings, meals/bookings/baggage/cancellations included, etc. As its name indicates – full service.

 

-LCA = low-cost-airline. (Not a low-fare-airline; see next.) An FSA but with lower operating costs (cheaper longer-hours flight-deck crew, younger/new longer-hours cabin crew, tighter cost control (twinned 3-star hotel rooms, for instance), fewer fare types, which may have first and business cabins, and which allows bookings through travel agencies etc. Usually similar to the parent airline, but a different name, and competition against parent airline allowed.)

 

NFA = no-frills-airline. I believe that among the many essential elements that make a successful NFA are: market freedom in terms of routes and aircraft choice; single aircraft type; where relevant, competition against parent airline allowed; fares that are extremely low when booked at least three months in advance, say US$25; one fare at one time (no wholesale rates, travel agency commissions, etc); no refunds; no service frills; single economy-class cabin; no seat selection; two toilets for 150-seat aircraft; 25-minute turnaround time; cabin crew do daytime cabin cleaning; name and flight change charged at least US$25 each; no trade shows; plenty of consumer advertising and promotion; and much more.

 

 

 

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.