Merchant Risk Council – Terry Jones

by Allen Weinberg on March 11, 2009

in Allen Weinberg, Conferences & Meetings, ECommerce, Innovation

Allen Weinberg

Next up at today’s Merchant Risk Council session was Terry Jones, the founder and former CEO of Travelocity.com – and a FABULOUS speaker!

Jones spoke about impact of the Internet on industries, citing travel as being impacted the most; half of all travel is booked online; more volume than the next four categories of ecommerce combined (airlines have half of that; 3rd party sites the other half). He noted a huge influence from price transparency.

He spoke of the failure of dot.coms – amongst other factors, cited what he called the “Dopeler Effect” = the tendency for stupid ideas to seem smart when they come at you rapidly”. Also said that it takes a while for technique to catch up with technology, and no one knows where technology is really going.

He presented some great stats and examples about how online everything has changes what we do, how we do it, etc.

He asked “where does innovation happen in a company?” Everywhere! American Airlines Aadvantage program started at the top. Terry’s experience at Travelocity showed that the greatest innovations took place at the bottom of the org chart. The challenge is to get it past the “Bozone Layer” – the middle management layer that often tends to kill great ideas.

Innovation is like baseball – if you fail 70% of the time, you’re a star – vs the Olympics where you train from the age of 5 until 18 and, if you come in 4th, your life is over!

Lots of guidance/anecdotes about how to foster innovation: — e.g., If an innovative employee fails – don’t punish them – make sure they learn from it. At Genentech, when a review committee kills an innovation project, they immediately ask “what would you like to do next”. Coaching vs managing.

At Travelocity, EVERYONE (including mailroom employees) was required to listen to customer service calls at least twice a month – fostered a culture/practice of changing what needed to be changed to address issues/reduce calls. Lots of discussion on importance of customer feedback, how to elicit it, and how to use it.

One person at Expedia lobbied senior management for a year to get them to go into travel packages, and that doubled their sales!

Think “with the end in mind” – when someone goes to Home Depot for a drill, they’re not looking for a drill – they’re looking for a hole”

Only 36% of sites have product reviews, while 90% of customers say they like them and that they’re effective.

YouTube is now the number 2 search engine in the US.

Great and very enjoyable stuff!

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