Q4-2013 UA Sr. Leadership Shakeup: COO McDonald, SVP Pricing, SVP Customer Experince are Leaving

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by J.Edward, Dec 5, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. J.Edward
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    J.Edward Silver Member

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    It's reported the following UA executives are leaving the company:
    • Pete McDonald, UA's COO, hails from the pmUA
      • Greg Hart will replace him, hails from pmCO and currently running UA Tech-Ops
    • Leon Kinloch, UA's SVP Pricing, hails from the pmCO
      • Doug Leo will replace him and was pmUA's SVP of Pricing prior to the merger
    • Martin Hand, UA's SVP Customer Experience, hails from pmCO
      • (?) Replacement
    Also of note is a little less than a year ago two pmCO executives were "asked to leave the company".
     
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  2. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    Oh, I didn't realize Martin Hand is leaving. Bummer.
     
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  3. Black Cloud
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    Black Cloud Gold Member

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    Why bummer?
    Has anyone had a solid and consistent customer experience?
     
  4. goalie
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    goalie Gold Member

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    Looks like we won't be able to talk to the hand any more ;)
     
  5. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    So were these three "asked to leave the company" as well?
     
  6. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    I mean, he seemed like a nice person the couple times I met him. Not a comment on his competence.
     
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  7. skyvan

    skyvan Gold Member

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    Sad to see Martin Hand go, he was nice enough, though he did lie to our faces a few times he was nice enough and at least feigned caring..something that the people at DL can't do (though they do have a better customer experience somehow).
     
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  8. Art234
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    Art234 Milepoint Guide

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    So things are getting shaken up in the suite at UA. I hope they move the original COInsider up a few notches-he really deserves promotion.
     
  9. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    Yes, that would be awesome if CO/UAInsider were given more responsibility...to have someone who operates in the inverse way to Jeff Robbo and who can work more cooperatively with the flyers....
     
  10. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    Art, were you involved in the the US Roachfest movement? If so :cool:
     
  11. Art234
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    Art234 Milepoint Guide

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    RTS, not only was I involved, I was a co-founder of the movement, and am still chairperson of the succeeding group, FFOCUS. Thank you for your smile :)
     
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  12. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    I hope my membership in FFOCUS hasn't been revoked for the lack of activity thus far. :p
     
  13. Art234
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    Art234 Milepoint Guide

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    Not to worry, Grasshopper, your membership is safe :)
     
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  14. redtailshark

    redtailshark Silver Member

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    I can't find a giant thumb graphic to signal approval, but that was one of the most meaningful events in the history of FFP. Great to see those who put their efforts where their complaints are...

    Do you think the limes are better now on US? I agree, despite the apparently trivial nature, these have significance beyond the physical.
     
  15. Art234
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    Art234 Milepoint Guide

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    I think the limes did get better, then came Parker, and he wanted to charge for them...lol. Thank you for your kind words, though, it was a beginning of a movement which made airline managers take customers seriously (or at least pretend to). We're still active, although quiet about it.
     
  16. Art234
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    Art234 Milepoint Guide

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    Back on subject, however, if UA wants to really shake things up, they should return to the Bethune Doctrine, which states if you make happy employees, they will be empowered and encouraged to make happy customers, and if you have happy customers, the shareholders will be happy by default. I think SMI/J and the current UA are living proof that it doesn't work the other way around.

    Where's Gordon when we need him?
     
  17. ssullivan
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    ssullivan Gold Member

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    Saw him a few months ago at IAH. He was getting his shoes shined next to me. Seemed quite happy to sit this mess out and let his legacy remain something that many of us fondly remember.
     
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  18. Mackieman
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    Mackieman Gold Member

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    I've always hoped he spent his time swimming through giant vats of money, Scrooge McDuck style.
     
  19. ssullivan
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    ssullivan Gold Member

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    He just might do that. He seems to be very happy, both when I've bumped into him at the airport, or based on some of the things he posts to his Facebook page.
     
  20. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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  21. chitownflyer
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    chitownflyer Silver Member

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    This is why Bethune turned around the CO operation and wrote the book, "From Worst to First." He knew the virtue of rewarding the loyalty of elites. The negative of the merger has been the smaller airline Continental and its management attempting to impose its operational model on the larger airline that was United, and then the use of United's method of increasing profits from cost cutting and reductions often at the expense of elites. CO was a very good airline alone, and I was very impressed with their BF product, President's Clubs with showers, and concierge services. Now the concierge services have been mostly eliminated along with many inflight amenities on international service, and the United Clubs offer Bud Light as the complimentary beer. Selling upgrades for TODs or HODs at the expense of elites is a poor business practice which is driving away elite loyalty with many defections going to AA. Perhaps Gordon might return to steer the ship in the right direction? Otherwise, I would not be surprised to see a United Lufthansa merger occur a few years down the road with LH running the operation.
     
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  22. Seacarl
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    Seacarl Gold Member

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    While I was impressed with many things that pmCO did - and it's PC's were very nice, pmUA also treated its elites very well, especially in IRROPs and service recovery.

    The airline does seem focused on getting rid of "low value" elites. I wonder how many of them there are, and I also wonder whether that is a smart strategy. Obviously the airline thinks it costs them money to service these "low value" elites, so the moves they've taken will either drive them away from the airline or put them in a lower elite level. Perhaps one problem is the low value elites don't pay many ancillary fees and replacing them with non-elites increases the ancillary revenue opportunity. But the flip side is that these "low value" elites have a preference for booking on UA with no marketing cost to the airline, and tend to be promoters of the airline, and that generally UA's reputation is poor among non-loyal UA flyers, so if UA is pricing and revenue managing its flights properly, they really ought to want to still sell even to low value elites. Really seems like maybe UA should try to stay attractive to low value elites at least until they have fixed their operation and service and improved their customers scores.

    The other issue is that UA does seem more focused on cutting costs than on increasing revenue. If a primary reason that they haven't met their financial goals is that they aren't attracting the yield they want, then focusing on cost cuts and ancillary revenue increases isn't going to generate more high yield flyers. Seems to me that working on making the airline more attractive is worth investing some money in, not just advertising.
     
  23. Mackieman
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    Mackieman Gold Member

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    I dunno if much of that is really true or comparable. I think it's a safe assumption to state that the business environment that Mr. Bethune enjoyed at CO was decidedly different than that which is faced by today's UA. I didn't fly CO while he was CEO, but from everything I've read about him (and from him in some cases), he never tried to make elites happy. He focused on making his employees happy which, in turn, engendered loyalty in customers because it was a decent flying experience. Cost was not the cornerstone metric that it is today, and the business environment was not anywhere near as focused on short term performance as it is today. Short-term performance (and profits) has such a razor-sharp focus today across many industries that long-term focus and planning has gone by the wayside; executives must produce results immediately and by any means at their disposal. The most looming figure on the balance sheet is always cost, and that is the first place focus is placed. The model of cutting costs as a way of producing short term profitability is, in my hilariously novice opinion, the reason why things have gone south at UA and at many other companies in many other industries. Again, my understanding is that Mr. Bethune's tenure at CO had nothing to do with elites or much in the way of focus on customer experience; rather, he made employees happy which provided a better customer experience, thus engendering loyalty. The recipe he used back then may have no standing in today's business environment.

    Moreover, CO was, at its largest, a dramatically smaller operation that legacy UA ever was. It's much easier to control customer experience when your customer base is so much smaller and your capital output to focus on that experience is greatly reduced because you have three hubs. Clubs with showers and the like are great, I enjoy them too; but I don't for a minute think that it's as simple as adding showers to pmUA facilities. The cost to retrofit existing buildings is astronomical and to do so provides very little in the way of incremental benefit for the business. It would be nice, sure, but to be unhappy because it isn't happening is to live in a magical land of unicorns that fart rainbows. It isn't conducive to interactions with reality.

    And you really should get over the whole issue of selling upgrades. The upgrade price is the price one would pay if they bought a fare that automatically upgraded them in the first place. It's not an upgrade, really: it's a fare-up. It's just marketed differently, and everyone should learn to discern the difference between marketing and reality. To paraphrase George Carlin: marketing is all bullshit, and it's bad for you.

    Finally, I do sincerely hope Gordon is swimming in his vats of money like Scrooge McDuck. No way is he coming back nor do I think the board would hire him if he wanted to. It's a radically different business environment. It's a brave new world and airlines (like almost every other company in the world) are focused on revenue instead of volume. There's only one thing to do about it:

    [​IMG]
     
  24. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Lots of good points in your post and I can see your point of short-term focus every day at work, in an entirely different industry. The results aren't pretty.

    On the showers issue, agreed, it may not be easy to retrofit them into existing clubs. Will the entirely new-built Club at SFO (T3 Pier E) have showers?
     
  25. HeathrowGuy
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    HeathrowGuy Gold Member

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    Lufthansa has wanted this for years, since United, with all its flaws, is a far more cost-efficient airline than Lufthansa can hope to be.
     

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