William – I enjoyed the post and am a pretty big fan of Shake Shack! To be honest, as much as I do not indulge on traditional fast-food restaurants I feel the entire Shake Shack experience is much different and am proud to have frequented Shake Shack during my time in New York. We actually had one of their locations in the lobby of our office building so it was a frequent lunch and after-work stop for many of us. As you pointed out, there was always something different about the experience – from the way the employees seemed to enjoy their job and were committed to the customer experience – to the way that the food tasted and a willingness to wait in line to be served. Shake Shack for many became more of a commodity than a staple in the fast-food market. Many of our out-of-town clients would actually request Shake Shack for lunch instead of the more exquisite and higher-quality catered meals. I think Shake Shack has been able to grab a lot of fanfare in larger cities and some of their current locations, but I wonder if they can create the same “buzz” in smaller cities and towns across the U.S. Also, as they continue to buy premium ingredients and pay for their employees’ higher wages will they be able to remain competitive in markets outside of cities where consumers’ willingness to pay is likely far less? Despite the market reaction to Shake Shack over the past couple months – will there be equal volatility for consumers once the “wow” factor wears off – or they start to price out potential customers in more rural markets?
Sam – I enjoyed your post, and as a recent Delta convert, I was interested to read more about the business and operational efficiencies behind the scenes that seem to have led to a more pleasant flying experience. For business and personal travel, I have traditionally gone with other domestic carriers because of corporate alliances and geographic locations – but have recently been flying Delta more frequently and have been very impressed! Honestly, I was unaware of some of the vertical integration and ownership of the refinery – but I feel like some of the business efficiencies realized are parallel to some of the improvements in customer experience – and are all focused on delivering value through the whole experience by capitalizing on even the smallest of details. I agree that Delta has a business-traveler approach – but this replication for customer service for personal travel has greatly persuaded me to fly Delta for all types of flights. I think the company has done an amazing job, recovering from and rebranding the company following bankruptcy – and that they have been successful in business efficiencies, and am curious how they will continue to distinguish themselves in the future. As other carriers, such as Southwest and the recent USAir/American merger attempt to emulate some of their practices – will they be able to continue to differentiate themselves as both the carrier for business and personal travelers? I know I am committed to continuing to use Delta and am excited to see how they further reinvent themselves in the future!
Thank you Jennifer! I enjoyed reading your post and a lot of what you said resonated with me as I have had varying experiences with Megabus through the years. It was interesting reading your post and then contextualizing some of my thoughts about the Megabus business plan and operational efficiencies. For me, Megabus was always convenient because it provided a service on a route that only they offered (between my hometown in Pennsylvania and New York City) and so it was not only cheaper but also a lot more convenient than flying or renting a car. I found the service on Megabus to be relatively standard – but always viewed the experience as a value proposition for getting the most for my money – and was willing to sacrifice comfort and better service for price and convenience. For instance, when considering other travel on potential Megabus routes (New York to Philadelphia or Baltimore/Washington D.C.) I never considered Megabus because of the other transportation options available. I did not find the value proposition great enough to outweigh the uncomfortable conditions or lower-quality experience. Also, on my traditional Megabus route between PA and NYC I saw fares jump up sharply over a few years as demand also shot up. By the end of my time in New York, I was constantly looking for other options, other than Megabus, as it was no longer an obvious great value. I am curious how their strategy will evolve in the future. I think they will continue to concentrate on their hub and spoke model and focus on routes between areas, especially with deal-seeking customers such as collegetowns, and major cities – but I wonder if their prices will continue to rise. There seem to be relatively low barriers to entry for these types of routes and services, so if they are not distinguishing themselves on service and price, or schedule and convenience, will they eventually raise fares until they price out some of their customers and have lower-fare competitors enter the market? To me, Megabus always stood for affordable value for more “random” routes – but this strategy seems easy to replicate, so I am interested to see how Megabus retains its market share in the future if more competitors enter the market.