Online Reputation Management: Why what they say about you online matters
Does your organization actively manage its reputation online?
A few years ago, I got an invitation to be part of a turn around team for one of the regional carriers in Africa. Naturally excited about the opportunity and knowing very little about that airline I went straight to my best information source at hand – Google.
The search results were least to say mortifying; ranking highest on the search result was “Here is why you should not fly airline WXYZ” complete with a blog posted under the airlines’ domain with a .net and .org extensions. Whoever posted and managed this blog had a sad story to tell about their experience with the airline. This person gave a blow by blow account of his experience with the airline and its staff in a Stephen King kind of script.
Opinion:The business model of discount/no frills/budget airlines or Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) is based on low fares with limited services to keep costs to a minimum.
LCCs employ several cost cutting measures to ensure that their operating costs are less than those of traditional or Full Service Carriers (FSCs). The most common are; online ticket sales and check in, charges for checked in baggage and on-board refreshments, utilizing cheaper un-congested secondary airports, etc.
The current Ebola outbreak has so far claimed close to 5,000 lives. Unlike previous outbreaks confined to remote African villages, Ebola has this time round found its way into Europe and the United States due to the ease with which people can travel thousands of miles and interact socially within hours, thanks to aviation.
Whereas the chances of contracting a disease like Ebola in an aviation environment (airport/airplane) are remote, there is a real possibility of infected persons flying thousands of miles and carrying the same with them to their destination. This is worsened by the fact that passengers are screened for symptoms of disease upon arrival, not before departure.
From my own personal experience, I have flown twice out of Entebbe International Airport (to Nairobi in 2009 during the outbreak of Swine flu, and to South Africa last month after Ebola had already made headlines in West Africa) during outbreak periods. I was away for five days on both occasions and was welcomed upon my return to Uganda with sanitizers, health forms, temperature checks and interviews by health personnel. I was not screened before departing Entebbe in 2009. I was screened at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport upon disembarking but was not screened on my way out of Nairobi. Last month, I was only screened when I flew back into Entebbe five days later. There was no such screening at O.R Tambo International Airport.
The world is yet to recover from the shock of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. It was a very sad day for aviation and I sincerely hope the culprits shall be brought to book.
I have taken time to read the Montreal Convention (The Convention) and liability of carriers in such situations. Malaysia is one of the 107 states that are parties to the Convention.
The carrier is liable under Article 17 of the convention for the death of passengers if the accident that caused the death took place on board the aircraft, or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking. Contributory negligence or any wrongful act or omission on part of a passenger exonerates the carrier from any liability.
OPINION: For the record, I am neither an employee nor spokesperson for Emirates Airline. This article is written in my capacity as a lawyer and aviation professional.
It was stated in that article that, “Family members of the late Sande Jacob Mremi, a resident of Dar es Salaam, pointed a finger to Emirates Airlines for failing to board him for treatment in India.” They further alleged that Emirates reneged on its contractual obligation by failing to board the obese passenger who had paid US$13,800 and was in possession of a confirmed ticket.
According to the article, the deceased weighed 250 kilograms. Emirates Tanzania managers said the airline would have to “uproot” at least six seats in order for engineers to create a seat that would permit the deceased to fly safely and comfortably.