It’s not often we get the chance to see something truly amazing happen when it comes to creating a great user experience (or guest experience).
Jobs did it with Apple and the Mac, Disney did it with Disneyland, Musk did it with Tesla (and PayPal), Nest did it with IoT, and so on and so forth.
And Branson did it numerous times as well. In this case, he changed how people fly.
I had the opportunity to fly Virgin American once, back when a potential employer flew me from San Diego to SFO for a job interview – that was one of not only the best flights I had ever been on, but extremely comfy in “normal” seating, especially for being someone who is 6′ 7″. It’s sad that so many companies have the opportunity (and money) to create a great experience, but they don’t, either because they refuse to with “We’ve always done it this way”, or “if it ain’t broke” or not wanting to hire the renegade thinkers, or just not caring or even having true imagination.
Thing is, more people are beginning to get what a “good experience” is thanks to the Steve Jobs’, Jonny Ives’, Richard Branson’s, Walt Disney’s (and his Imagineers), and the rest of us who give a damn about making EVERY.SINGLE.EXPERIENCE wonderful, no matter what industry or who the end user/guest/customer is. Problem is, there’s not enough “employers” or companies out there who look to hire people like us, who want to shake things up; truly, radically, innovate, and make people wake up to what can be.
And so Virgin America was bought out by Alaska, then promptly killed off. Why? Maybe Alaska sees what they have is “good enough” or even “great”. I do remember ads by Alaska back when they first hit the tarmac, but from the looks of it, not even they could keep up with staying ahead of the pack. The sad thing is, this means the end of another great experience that a lot of people will never get the chance to.
Not to say we’ve never seen some brand bought out then killed off. It’s common in the business world. Sometimes it’s mainly to get rid of the competition.
But sometimes, it’s to help make one’s own product better. In this case, I think it’s the former. I hope not, and I hope that Alaska uses the things learned and created by Virgin America to create an even more amazing flight experience.
We need to be innovators. Not the “planned out, small iterations, slight changes” kind of innovators. We need to be the unexpected, risk-taking, big stupid ideas no one could even imagine kind of innovators.
Renegades, catalysts, different thinkers. And companies need to be willing to not just do things “the way we always have”, but be willing to take big risks in order to truly push technology and experiences forward.
You can either be “safe” and plan things out, or do something crazy and really have a massive, amazingly positive effect on how things are done.
Think big, think different, think about how you can change the world to make it a more wonderful place to be, one experience at a time.
So, here’s my regards to Branson and Company. My hat’s off to you Sir Richard for doing what you do, and hoping something great will come our way again someday.