JetBlue & You
Marketing chief Marty St. George on humanity, loyalty, and the JetBlue journey.
Some airline passengers get really hooked on the game of getting status and upgrades. “That game,” says chief marketer Marty St. George, “is pretty foreign to JetBlue.” Yes, JetBlue has a loyalty program. Its operative ethos, however, has always been less about locking in passengers with points and more about treating them to a better in-flight experience. The airline’s arrival in February, 1999, was at once audacious and pragmatic. Its ambitious mission to “bring humanity back to air travel” was backed by a relatively humble mix of low fares, unusually attentive customer service, and unexpected amenities.
“There are two kinds of loyalty: the kind you buy, and the kind you earn,” says Marty. “For JetBlue, the mix decidedly favors the latter.” The result is a kind of loyalty that’s premised on treating all passengers as relationships, regardless of their frequent-flier status. It’s a loyalty that has endured disasters, like the snowstorm that infamously stranded passengers aboard a JetBlue plane for 11 hours, as well as the occasional rogue flight attendant, or psychotic pilot. Such incidents seem only to intensify JetBlue’s aura of humanity.
Granted, the surprise-and-delight that JetBlue introduced nearly 14 years ago does not pack as much punch today. The digitized ability for anyone to bitch and moan to the world about anything and everything that goes awry presents a whole new set of challenges, too. J etBlue’s relationship with its passengers, admits Marty, remains a work in progress.The day we say we’ve accomplished our mission is the day we fail,” he says. read >>