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A Lesson in the Skies

02.17.17 | Larry Gross for JOC

Is there a lesson in here for the steamship lines? The steamship lines must get creative on segmenting their service. For instance, how about a premium rate that ensures your container doesn’t get rolled, the booked voyage doesn’t get blanked, and the container is among the first to be unloaded at the destination port?

Carrier executives say shippers aren’t willing to pay more for better service, so service has deteriorated to the point that it’s now all about price. How has that worked out?

Not so long ago, prevailing wisdom was the same regarding airline passengers. You had First Class and Economy, and every Economy passenger got the same service regardless of the fare. When we step aboard a plane today we enter a highly stratified and non-uniform world. This was perhaps more difficult for the airlines to achieve because much of the differentiation had to be gained by taking things away from passengers (remember free checked luggage?). The steamship line’s task is easier because under the current standard of universally mediocre service levels, value-added options can be created by offering more, rather than less.

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