The great country of Great Britain is probably the only country in Europe, in where it’s people call continental Europe just “Europe”, forgetting that the UK itself is part of the continent. Understandable, the differences between the island and “the others” seem large. The English are on a different time zone, they drive on the left side of the road, keep the Sterling as currency, and keep closer ties to their former colonies than to their immediate neighbors in Europe.
One big difference between the UK and the rest: The UK is immune against snow and ice. Or at least it seems that way. Although snow and ice was largely responsible for winter chaos in Great Britain during the last few years, it seems that the public doesn’t care to prepare accordingly. A few snow flakes and a cold winter night are responsible for a national shut down of airports and railroads. The media warns of the “Big Freeze”, of somewhat minus 5° Celsius; drama sells.
Great Britain is immune to prepare- and to invest- and therefore can’t compete with other countries within the European community. London’s airports closed down for several days this winter, causing great difficulties for all travelers. The lack of information, not kept promises, let to great disappointment.
Roads are not cleared, major highways are not salted, and people in cars don’t even know what snow tires are. While car owners on the continent must change tires for the winter by law, the English seem to deny their existence.
The UK spent 4.2 Billion British Pounds Sterling (6.5 Billion USD) on building Terminal 5 of London’s airport Heathrow. The London Underground extended the Piccadilly line, building an additional train station, just for the new terminal. And yet, the airport only invested 6 Million GBP in preparation for snow and ice in the winter. That’s a little bit over 0.1 percent.
Wow! Fail to prepare and prepare to fail.
Not just people who planed to travel shook the heads with disbelief, also shop owners and businesses in the airport terminals got financially hurt. People were sleeping on the floor, with no further information given. Other airports on the continent closed as well, but facing much worse weather conditions.
Imagine the situation from a different point of view: A privately run hotel chain with lots of hotels in a city hasn’t bought enough oil for their heating system. This is the third winter in the row they lacked preparation. As a result of running out of fuel, the management decides to turn off the heating and hot water for a couple of days. Shortly the reception of the hotel is packed with people who either want a different room or demand more information when the situation will be resolved. As no one knows how long the turn off period lasts, no information can be given and as a result the hotel is canceling all reservations, including the ones which are already paid.
What will happen to the business?
- How will their guests / customers view and rate the service of the hotel?
- Failing to prepare is one thing, failing inform people when it’s resolved is another.
- Would customers book again next year?
- How much business will they lose?
- In a digital world, how would their word of mouth advertising look like? Word-of-mouth depends on the extent of customer satisfaction with the product or service, and on the degree of its perceived value.
Any private business with such poor management will suffer losses when not being prepared for expected, unexpected situations. As a result people WILL get fired.
In winter, many travelers coming from oversees will avoid flying via London, and rather book flights through other continental European airports like Oslo (not closed for a single day this season so far). Airlines like British Airways might lose a few winter passengers, and money will be shifted away, to other airports outside the big winter island.