In my four years as a Southwest Employee, I’ve seen a lot of zany things that most people don’t experience in a corporate setting. From singing telegrams to Chewbacca impression competitions, the People of Southwest Airlines are no strangers to coloring outside the lines. When it comes to things like this, I doubt the first work group that comes to mind is our Corporate Sales Team. Because our Team is responsible for the relationships between Southwest and our corporate partners, it’s imperative that we act professional in front of our Customers. Fortunately, my Team has creatively found a balance between showing our Fun-LUVing Attitudes and staying professional.
Every year, the Corporate Sales Team represents Southwest at the Global Business Travel Association conference. We have a booth highlighting our products and services and meet face to face with corporate travel decision makers. In 2008, the travel industry was dealing with the financial effects of ancillary fees. We addressed the issue by dressing up like superheroes. While suits are de rigueur at the convention, our Corporate Sales Team let everyone know we were there to save corporate America from fees by donning tights and capes. It was hilarious and inspiring to watch my Leaders dressed as Captain America and Wolverine discuss travel policies with procurement directors of Corporate Travel 100 companies. Wonder Woman, Super Man, Batman, Bat Girl, Robin, Robin Girl, Iron Man, and others were there, touting our commitment to our Customers by providing outstanding Customer Service and everyday low fares without any surprise fees tagged on at the time of purchase.
Our attire caused quite a stir, and when we weren’t working with our Customers, we were posing for photos with convention attendees. Superhero costumes were a perfect fit for our Team and I can’t think of a better way to symbolize our Warrior Spirits to our Customers. Up, up, and away!
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I’ll be the first to admit working for an airline has great perks. Having the ability to travel at a moment’s notice is fun and exciting, and feeds my adventurous spirit. My flight privileges are more beneficial to me now than ever before, since I became a nomad. In my experience, it’s never good when your landlord calls you. At best, it’s about a maintenance issue. At worst, you’re asked to move out. The latter happened to me last September. My roommate and I had lived in our house for over three years and were no longer in a lease (I’d negotiated a month-to-month agreement) so when the owner’s daughter needed a place to live, we were kindly asked to move out to accommodate her. My roommate found a new place to live and in our mad rush to move out I didn’t. Instead of hastening to find another apartment, I decided to sell all of my belongings and couch surf until a suitable opportunity presented itself. (Don’t worry Mom and Dad--I’m staying with friends, not strangers!) After talking to other Southwest Airlines Employees, I discovered that I wasn’t the first to adopt this lifestyle. A flight attendant I met couch-surfed for two years and plans on doing it again. Two former Marketing Employees lived out of their cars for extended periods of time, one while she was a Flight Attendant and the other just last year while he was working at Headquarters. I wonder if Southwest attracts adventurous people or if they develop a taste for exploration from working here. I imagine it’s a little bit (or a lot) of both. Currently, I’m in my fifth month of nomadic living. When I started in November, I had no idea what I’d face in this journey but it’s been an invaluable learning opportunity. There are pros and cons, but overall the experience has allowed me to take advantage of my flight privileges a lot more and evaluate what aspects of life are the most important. I’ve traveled to Vancouver, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix, Austin, Oklahoma City, and St. Louis and have a handful of other destinations to visit before I settle down. If you’ve ever considered going nomadic, here’s a list of the top ten things you have to gain:
A fresh start. Selling all of your possessions is simultaneously terrifying and liberating! Self-reliance. No one else is going to find you a place to sleep! Appreciation. For the little things, like having a roof over your head! Stories. Some good, some bad, some weird, but all cool. Extra cash. No rent or utility bills allows you more money for travel, fun, and savings! Friends and family. You get to see them more and realize how much they care! Just be sure not to overstay your welcome. No chores. However, pitching in around the place you’re staying is a great way to thank your hosts! Flexibility. When opportunity knocks, there’s not much holding you back! Organization. It’s the key to sanity in this situation. Learn it or risk losing your mental stability! Fun. Being a nomad isn’t ordinary, and it’s not easy, but it sure can be fun!
To all you nomads, past, present, and future, may your friends’ couches be soft, your bank accounts be full, and your travels be safe. You can read more about transitory life on my personal blog, www.theglamnomad.wordpress.com.
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The Marketing Department at Southwest Airlines is an exciting place to be! We work diligently every day to create demand for our brand. While the majority of Marketing’s efforts target travelers directly, the Corporate Sales Team’s Customers are a little different. We work with corporate travel decision makers, rather than the business travelers themselves, to position Southwest Airlines as a preferred carrier in their companies’ travel programs. What does this mean exactly? Our job is to promote Southwest as the “airline of choice” for corporations so that all of their employees’ travel in our markets will be on us!
As a Corporate Relations Specialist, I work with companies of all sizes, from small mom and pop shops to Corporate Travel 100 companies (the top 100 companies in the U.S. with the biggest travel spend). A huge part of my job is educating corporate travel decision makers on the value Southwest brings to their travel program. In many cases, the decision makers we work with don’t travel themselves (they spend their time in the office managing travel programs, and usually have other procurement-related responsibilities), so they often have misperceptions on who we are. With our everyday low fares and no change fees* or fees for their travelers’ first or second checked bags**, we give companies the freedom to conduct business even during challenging economic times. I love showing travel managers how much money they save just by flying Southwest over other carriers. I put their travel data in a spreadsheet (we call this a “cost analysis”) and they can see the inherent cost savings they get when they use Southwest.
The value we provide to businesses and their travelers goes beyond cost. We are ranked number one (per the Department of Transportation) in Customer Service. We fly an all jet fleet (no small regional jets) and are implementing Wi-Fi on all of our planes. We continue to add more destinations and have rolled out products that cater to the business traveler including Business Select and A-List, and made over our gate areas to provide power stations and leather club chairs. All of these efforts have made Southwest more appealing to business travelers by enhancing their Southwest experience and allowing them to be more productive on the road.
Every day I learn about other companies’ policies, procedures, and cultures. I started my career at Southwest four years ago as an Intern, so being involved with business-to-business interactions has been eye-opening as it’s given me better perspective on the uniqueness of Southwest. I truly appreciate the professionalism and Spirit of our People, the smart operating decisions made by our trusted Leaders, and our commitment to Customer Service. I’m lucky to work for such an outstanding brand and promote a product of which I’m proud. It’s satisfying to share the Southwest Spirit with other companies as we partner with them to bring value to their travel programs.
*Fare difference applies. **Size and weight limits apply.
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The sounds of LUV could be heard through the halls of Southwest Airlines’ Headquarters on Valentine’s Day this year, thanks to the voices of our nine Marketing Interns, better known as the SWAmazing SWAlentines! For a small fee, Southwest Employees could send a singing telegram to croon to an unsuspecting cubicle, meeting, or even Gary Kelly! The SWAlentines dressed the part wearing pink tutus, red suspenders, and winglets, of course.
Our talented Interns wrote parody songs themselves, including “Love Field” (sounds sort of like the B52’s “Love Shack”), “L-O-V-E” (similar to the Nat King Cole classic), and "Tearin’ up the Skies” (an NSYNC-sounding mash-up). On Monday morning, the entire Corporate Sales Team (including 13 virtual Employees who were listening via speaker phone) was serenaded with an exuberant “Love Field” during our monthly conference call. It was a great way to send some LUV and Culture to our Coworkers’ in their home offices!
Now, I will leave you with the lyrics from my personal favorite SWAlentine song… Enjoy!
L is for the way we LUV no fees
O is for only two bags fly free
V is very very extra SWArdinary
E is even more than all the EarlyBird Checkins cause
LUV is all that I can give to you
And LUV is more than just our stock symbol
Herb and Gary can make it
Take our Company and please don’t break it
LUV was made for flying too!
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