By Martin Kelly, Editor, TravelTrends.biz
The slogan of Tiger Airways – which wants to take on Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Blue in the Australian domestic market – is “Get The Real Deal Now”.
But does Tiger offer “The Real Deal”? I’m not so sure.
Let me explain. The airline is famous for its advertising and marketing which revolves around stunts like offering S$1 fares to new destinations to and from Singapore.
Even as I write this, Tiger is offering one-way fares as low as S$12.60 from Singapore to Bangkok, advertised as 88% off the discounted fare.
Not surprisingly, there’s a sting in the tail – as there always is with Tiger’s advertised fares … none of them ever includes fees, taxes and charges.
You’ll find them buried in the fine print.
For example, the real cost of the S$12.60 fare is actually S$63.85 when the extras are added.
Tiger boss Tony Davis said at Wired Travel Asia he has no qualms about advertising a S$1 or S$5.40 fare in Asia when the real cost is many times that and that this approach does no harm to the Tiger brand.
But will this strategy wash in Australia?
I have doubts, and so do the incumbents.
For the past couple of years, all Jetstar, Virgin Blue and Qantas have included fees and charges in all their airfare advertising in both the domestic and trans-Tasman market.
They took the decision to do so in 2005 after public outcry which prompted the Government to say it would change the Trade Practices Act (TPA) to ensure all charges were included in advertised airfares.
That never happened, another failed Government promise, but the airlines took the hint.
This means that certain specials such as the recent A$22 one-way national seat sale from Jetstar are actually less than fees and charges in some markets.
At this stage Tiger does not seem have changed its stripes, with its PR spreading the word to publications such as The Age that fares could fall to A$10 plus fees and charges if it gains regulatory approval to fly in Australia.
Ironically, that would be significantly more than the pre-emptive promotion from Jetstar.
The all-inclusive approach from the major Aussie carriers also extends to their booking engines – the first fare you see on the booking matrix is the one you’ll get.
Not the case with Tiger, fees and charges are shown later in the booking process.
I know what I prefer, and I reckon the majority of Australians feel the same way.
The fact is Tiger must get fair dinkum about offering “The Real Deal” in Australia or its credibility will suffer in market where this battle has already been fought – and won – by the consumer.
20 March, 2007