What is the brand personality of your favorite airline?

Wing of plane2

Do you book flights based on convenience, cost, points, or the experiences you’ve had with an airline? In many instances, I’m usually the most loyal to my own pocket. So, I’m willing to guess that ticket price ranks high on your checklist as well, right?. But other things such as lost luggage, flight delays, uninformed desk agents, leg room, general customer service, and the ability to get assigned seating affect your decision too, don’t they? All those factors help shape your perception of a brand, and when combined, they also can affect our desire to fly with a specific airline.

As an experiment, I asked diverse groups of people to describe different airlines using adjectives they would attribute to people.  My survey group included friends, former coworkers, and surprised-to-be-quizzed patrons at my hair salon. The exercise was very revealing. Here’s what they said:

American Airlines

It’s stuffy, old, traditional and flaky. They summed up the brand relationship as the type of friendship your parents forced you into as a child (with play dates) but now as adults, they simply found themselves maintaining the status-quo.

Air Berlin

My informal ‘focus group’ members called it methodical and aloof.

Alitalia

The most common adjective used during this discussion was warm.

British Airways

Good ole BA was described as classy, proper and refined. It was likened to a work friend who is reliable and approachable, but not someone you would hang out with voluntarily on the weekend.

Caribbean Airlines

The overwhelming response here was genuine, with a come-what-may attitude. One person actually said it was like the person at school/college who didn’t have to study, went to all the parties, but did okay on exams anyway.

Image source: airlinetaillogos.wordpress.com
Image source: www. airlinetaillogos.wordpress.com

Delta Airlines

Delta was seen as comfortable and friendly, but more of a wall flower who preferred to blend into the background.

Emirates Airline

This response brought out many superlatives like super rich, sumptuous and ultra cosmopolitan. It was described as that friend who is used to a lifestyle filled with luxury, and one who expects excellent customer service at his/her fingertips.

Iberia

I got only one word for this one – friendly.

JetBlue

This name triggered a little animation from everybody. Eyes lit up and they all leaned forward while words like chill, hipster and trendy tumbled from their lips. In the eyes of many, JetBlue was seen as the cool kid who is always friendly and fun.

Spirit Airlines

Shoulders drooped visibly at the mention of Spirit.  Regrettably, its adjectives were very uncomplimentary. They called it unreliable, penny-pinching and the kid who would get picked last for a team sport on the play ground.

United Airlines

The best adjectives people could come up with for United was that it was okay but a bit beaten weathered down.

Virgin Atlantic 

The mention of Virgin sent the energy up in the room quite a bit with talk of its offbeat, fun and hip personality. A few persons admitted they sometimes found it a little over-the-top, but they also were confident they’d have no worries if they had to go out with such a charismatic person.

When asked if they had to pick one airline to hang out with all week-end long, JetBlue and Virgin were neck and neck in terms of responses.  What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with these observations? How would you advise an airline CEO about the best ways to ensure a positive brand image based on your personal travel experiences?

I kept my list short but please tell me your favorite airline, and by all means, share your views on your perception of its brand personality!

8 Instagram-worthy spots on the southwest coast of Florida

shelling-Captiva island

Recently, I had a blast exploring sections of southwest Florida. I had no idea that Lee County, an area just about 125 miles (201 km) south of Tampa and 115 miles (185 km) west of Fort Lauderdale, had so many unique locations and islands! There are 15 of them, and I was on a self-directed mission to find my favorite.

Much to my amazement, I very quickly realized that was easier said than done because each place that I visited had its own little slice of something special. History, beautiful landscapes, culture, arts, nature…WOW. The unexpected surprises often took my breath away!

I’ll share more with you over time. For now, I’ll just take you on a visual journey.

Edison Ford Estates

Sanibel Island

Cape Harbour

Impossible to ignore a view like this, right? Tap twice if you agree.

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Cayo Costa Island

So, my weekend got off to a running start. How's yours going?

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Captiva Island

Tap twice if you wanna catch a few sunsets with me.

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Matlacha Island (Pronounced Mat-la-shay)

Historic Downtown River District

https://www.instagram.com/p/BF65M1LJsaB/?taken-by=mytravelstamps

Bernie Davis Arts Center

…and this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Feel free to pin this article on your Pinterest boards, if you like!

shelling-Captiva island

 

A day trip to Guatapé

Do you know what happens when you decide to book a three-night stay in an unknown destination the day before you fly? I’ll tell you. You fervently hope the domestic airline on the receiving end of your purchase click is reliable, then you scramble like a crazy person to finalize your hotel selection and come up with a workable itinerary for sightseeing.

That’s how I ended up in Medellin, Colombia during the time I was scheduled to be solely on vacation in the coastal town of Cartagena with the world’s best travel buddy (my sister). We were zen and totally chilling until we decided it would be cool to use the opportunity to visit another region of the country.

Although I ended up with uncomfortable tummy issues while there, I am glad we did it.

scenery
Scenic countryside on the way to our destination

The first tour we booked was a day trip to the picturesque town of Guatapé. Nestled between curvaceous hills and bordered by debonair lakes, the journey is just under two hours from Medellin.

Our first treat was a food stop to enjoy a traditional Colombian breakfast of hot chocolate, eggs, arepa, cheese and sausage courtesy of a local restaurant called El Rancherito Lo Mejor.

Colombian breakfast of hot chocolate, eggs, empanada, cheese and sausage

The open air setting and bench-styled seating all cleverly positioned around a visible working kitchen added an authentic old-world charm to the experience.

The rustic setting of this restaurant enhanced its laid-back vibe

With sated stomachs, we then drove through scenic countryside that offered up spectacular views of hills and valleys, humble abodes and farms dedicated to different crops.

farms

Soon, we arrived at the town of Marinella, a major cultural center that has been lauded as a place of “stories, guitars and great natural beauty”. The dramatic La Fenix De America monument in the town’s square had everyone on the bus clamoring to get off to take pictures

Dramatic monument in the town's square that is a pivotal point for pictures

After a brief stop to capture the scenery, our bus driver then took us to El Peñol, a small town that had to be relocated after it sunk in the 1960s. Our tour guide said the government had built a hydroelectric dam to supply Medellin and surrounding areas with water but it caused severe flooding in the immediate area. As a result, many buildings were submerged. This picture shows me sitting in a bench before a replica of it.

From there, we boarded a vessel for a relaxing cruise along the Guatapé Reservoir where we saw fishermen passing by in their boats, beautiful mansions perched on the hillsides, and the remains of one of Pablo Escobar’s homes. They also pointed out one formerly occupied by his mother. House of Pablo Escobar

scene on lake in gautape

I also got pulled into an impromptu tourist version of either the vallenato, salsa or merengue. Watch me shake and shimmy like a pro. Riiight!

Lunch went down well in Guatapé at Asados Mi Casita. It was a typical meal of  of beans, chicharron (fried pork belly), plantain, fresh salad and a fried egg. guatpae_meal

I then took a stroll through the cobblestone streets that were reminiscent of Colonial times.

gauatape streets

Shop keepers loitered near their doors, residents went about their daily business and nifty little motochivas zipped up and down the narrow streets. And oh, what a blast of color it was! The vivid buildings made me feel as if I was a guest character in a fun, coloring book.

Many of the lower half of the buildings were adorned with brightly painted “zócalos”. They are murals that depict everyday life. murals on walls

The penultimate stop gave us a chance to climb the world-famous national monument known as La Piedra del Peñol, a giant rock that juts out of the landscape rising to 7000+ feet. Don’t quote me anywhere but to my somewhat warped mind,  I think it resembles an oversized breast punctuated by a very erect nipple if you look at it sideways. Gauatape_el piedra

Attempt the climb only if you are at your fittest. I must say the views at different points along the way are well worth the strenuous 740-step ascent.

richard.pandohie@yahoo.com

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Editor’s Notes:

I booked my tour with a company called Tours Guatapé and it cost $69.000 Colombian pesos, inclusive of breakfast and lunch with a Spanish-speaking guide. If you’d like to have English translation, there are no headsets. You must request a bilingual guide ahead of time – at a  premium price. It was nearly three times higher. (Can you guess which option I took? Yup, I depended on my years-old and very rudimentary high school Spanish to make it through the day) Ask for Ale Guia (Spanish speaker) and David (English assistance) as your guides. Also, there is an additional charge to climb La Piedra.

As a side note, given my tummy issues, I’m cautioning you to be careful of the tap water in Medellin. I drank bottled water all the time but I only realized on the second day that the water I asked to be heated for my tea was not boiled. It was tap water put in a cup and heated in a microwave. The next day I was vigilant and asked the kitchen staff to use the water I provided.

Finally, English is not as widely spoken in Medellin as one may expect so please take a dictionary with you or download a foreign language app to assist you with communication.