Throwing Around $100 Bills - 1
I guess in terms of the country—and the balance of trade—a crashing dollar is a good thing.
For my balance of trade, it stinks.
We flew into London last Saturday and went out for dinner. A bowl of soup for lunch was £8.50, which translates to $17.00. A £4.00 ride on the Underground for 10 blocks to get out of a rainstorm was $8.00 ($16 for two)—not a lot of fun. Dinner for two was at least $100 pretty much anywhere.
An exception was the Albert Pub. The bad news: the food was so-so. The good news: dinner was relatively inexpensive. The best news: smoking has been banned in London, so pubs—and everyplace else—are a joy.
In spite of the prices, for a direct marketer, was a European jaunt a good deal?
In the words of Yogi Berra, “You can see a lot just by observing.”
About Loyalty Programs
The media are filled with stories about the beating travelers with frequent flier miles are taking when they try to redeem them. The first loyalty miles program was started 26 years ago by American Airlines—a brilliant marketing scheme that was copied everywhere.
But greedy, stupid marketers corrupted the business model and commoditized free miles. Today half the miles awards are given to non-fliers as bribes for using their credit cards. Now the airlines are flying full, and to compound the squeeze it was announced last week that the six major carriers are cutting back on the number of flights by an average of 4.4%—or 72,000 less seats a day in the continental U.S.—when air travel is up 3%.
Currently 14 trillion free miles are outstanding around the world. You want to cash in your miles? Beyond an occasional upgrade, trying to get free air travel for your miles is an exercise in self-waterboarding. American, Delta, Northwest, Continental, United and US Airways have turned a stunning marketing breakthrough into a giant Ponzi Scheme that creates diss-loyalty.