I have just returned from an enjoyable lunch put on by FCM (Flight Centre's corporate travel arm). As you know I am a fan of good corporate agents - even with my strong history in online travel. They invited former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh to speak. Very enjoyable lunch and talk from Steve. I even managed to win a copy of his autobiography.
Qantas was a sponsor of the event and a representative of their corporate sales department opened the event with a speech and general introduction. Now, keep in mind that this Qantas rep is speaking to a room of FCM clients. That is hard core road/air warrior travellers. Almost certainly everyone present is a top tier Qantas flyer. The Qantas rep spoke for 15 minutes on "what is happening about Qantas". He talked about the airlines they plan to buy, the battles they plan to fight with their unions and the costs they plan to cut. Also took a few minutes to complain about fuel prices and low cost carriers. I found this staggering. Here he is with a captive audience of some of the top individual customers of the business and not once did he say thank you. Not once did he talk about a commitment to the corporate travel, about quality of product and customer service...nothing about how he was going to make things better for us as top customers. It was like he was talking to a room of share holders, not customers.
To me this summarises all that is wrong with Qantas. They have become so bottom line focused that they have lost a sense of how to keep customer's happy. They have monopoly or near monopoly rights on key routes (especially the Pacific Route and the politician traffic out of Canberra) that they are not aware of the growing disquiet among their customers. If I was the Qantas rep at this luncheon I would have spent less time basking in the reflective glory of being at Steve Waugh's table and more time shaking the hand of every single customer in the audience thanking profusely and begging for feedback.