Avoid the marketing mistake that Spirit Airlines is committing
Your 800 number could be your most valuable marketing tool. I am responding to Spirit Airlines dumps toll-free number ‘to better assist you’ at http://travel.yahoo.com/ideas/spirit-airlines-dumps-toll-free-number–to-better-assist-you–203237592.html. Spirit’s new phone number will be in the 801 area code. 801 is the area code for the Wasatch Front in northern Utah, specifically Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, and Weber counties. Switching away from the 800 number is a big marketing mistake. Here’s why:
- People will not update their records. I am consistently amazed how often I visit a client and see one of the business cards I stopped handing out in 2005. Most of us do not update our contact records when someone shares a new phone number. That is even more prevalent when a business changes its phone number. People assume the phone number still works or the business has gone out of business. Old business cards are still good marketing tools, only if the information is current.
- Sprit cancelled a toll free number. We know the 800 area code is free to the caller. The 801 area cost, although it looks pretty similar, is not. The 801 area code represents northern Utah. People who do call this new number will learn later that they have made a long distance call. It will appear on their landline phone bill. They will yell, “20 minute long distance call to 801 Utah! Who is there? Spirit! I am never calling them again. They should pay for the call, not me.” That bad experience could be the loudest marketing message Spirit makes this year. Too bad it is the wrong message.
- Sprit claims this move is “to better assist you.” I cannot see how changing a phone number and asking customers to pay long distance will help Spirit “better assist” customers. Toll free 800 numbers are a wonderful marketing tool. Promoting one and then retracting it would be worst than never offering one. I see a revolt. I see people reading the same article I found and feeling Spirit is no longer interested in their business.
Someone else will gladly take the business
The airline industry is very competitive. If one airline turns off customers, others will be happy to gain more customers. We’re not living in 2005 anymore. These days, you have to be good and your marketing has to be great. Killing a toll free 800 number is a big mistake. It could be the beginning of the end for Spirit Airlines.