On Thursday United Airlines announced a few changes to their executive leadership team. Among them was that CEO Jeff Smisek is also going to be the Chairman of the company effective at the end of the year. And there was some mention of shifting around the marketing and loyalty parts of the company, with Jeff Foland taking on a larger role. From the release:
Jeff Foland will oversee the airline’s marketing and loyalty, technology, strategy and customer experience groups, as EVP marketing, technology and strategy.
The level below Foland will also see some significant changes, specifically with the marketing and loyalty operations. Tom O’Toole, formerly President of the MileagePlus program, will be taking over the newly combined Marketing & Loyalty group. Senior Vice President, Marketing Mark Bergsrud and Vice President, Merchandising & Distribution Chris Amenechi have been let go from the company. A United media representative offered the following statement:
Combining marketing & loyalty will allow us to more effectively & efficiently serve our customers.
Quit generic as company statements go, to be sure.
The marketing strategy for United has been all over the map (and that’s not a positive statement regarding their global network) for the past year or so. And the company has had a number of integration issues with OTAs and other distribution channels, issues which have mostly been kept quiet. Combine that with the less than spectacular earnings numbers over the past few quarters and it should not be too much of a surprise that the shake-up happened.
The big questions now are:
- Are there more changes coming?
- Is this enough?