Let’s face it, the nature of travel means that it’s quite common for travellers to have to change their travel bookings. Yet there still seems to be some inflexible and ludicrous fees involved with making changes or cancellations – particularly with airlines.
One rather extreme example was discussed on Campbell Live. This complaint involves someone who simply wanted to change the passenger name (not even cancel) with Emirates – because she had the foresight to get an early bird booking for a cheaper price she was faced with considerable fees to make the change. See the story video here.
How do you treat travellers who need to change or cancel their booking? I’d suggest that in such a competitive environment where travellers have a choice and can complain online about unreasonable fees you should think twice about how strict your policies are.
For airlines I think that differentiating fares based on cancellation policies is a rather unfair approach – the passengers still all get the same service if sitting in the same class of travel, so shouldn’t price be differentiated based on service differentiation, lead time of booking, supply and demand, and value added components rather than something that leaves your customers vulnerable to the situation described in the Campbell Live story?
Yes you should be compensated for last minute cancellations where you can’t replace the booking but any situation where you won’t necessarily face revenue loss a more lenient approach should be taken.
Whatever decision you make can have a long term impact on your business reputation and repeat business which has the potential to cost you a lot more than the impact of a booking change. What do you think?