Southwest Airlines: Staying On Course Through Turbulent Times

3284 words - 13 pages

I. IntroductionThe case study of the Southwest Airlines as read in Etzel, Walker and Stanton's Marketing 14th Edition: pages 369 to 371, encompasses the years 1966 to 2004. This study read a number of successes as well a as number of hurdles Southwest has experienced in its approximate 35 years of business. The topics of this study included the company's pricing strategy in order to gain market shares, programs implemented to decrease overhead and special focuses on customer service with details of labor concepts.This case study analysis will cover a brief history of the company from 1971 until present including an executive summary, an analysis of the company's marketing strategies; including competitive pricing, name branding and the company's unique selling proposition. This analysis will conclude with insights of the company's current position and recommendations for future practices.II. Executive SummaryIn 1971, under a unique concept envisioned and implemented by Herb Kelleher and Rollin King, a small Texas airline opened its doors for business. The company's unique selling proposition included no-frills pricing and higher standards of customer service through employee autonomy. Herb Kelleher explained this concept by saying, "We began with one simple notion. If you get your passengers to their destinations when they want to get there, on time, at the lowest possible fares, and make darn sure they have a good time doing it, people will fly your airline."Southwest began its operations with three planes serving three Texas cities and through market penetration pricing Southwest is now the fifth largest airline company in America. Southwest operates more than 2,100 flights per day and carries over 44 million passengers a year, to 50 different cities all over the United States. Southwest claims include servicing almost 10% of US air traffic, best on-time record, best baggage handling and fewest customer complaints in the airline industry. Not only has Southwest won the industry's Triple Crown award for Best Airline five times in a row from 1992-96 but in 2005 the company announced its 33rd year of profitability, something unheard of for the airline industry.Since the company's inception, Southwest has been a leader in innovative marketing. It was the first airline with a frequent flyer program to give credit for the number of trips taken, not just the number of miles flown and also pioneered senior discounts, Fun Fares, Fun Packs, a same-day air freight delivery service, ticket-less travel, and many other unique service and pricing programs. Southwest has strategically partnered with many well known companies and have given their employees autonomy to create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere for their clientele. These bold strategies not only enhance the company's image, but also added unique customer benefits. The company's marketing achievements have not stopped there; in 2005 Southwest pioneered an e-commerce pop-up service called Ding!...

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