Después de 17 años, Southwest Airlines tomó una sorprendente nueva decisión

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Southwest Airlines dio a conocer muchas noticias esta semana, incluida una sorprendente nueva decisión que parece haber tomado 17 años o más.

La historia contiene algunas lecciones realmente buenas para casi cualquier persona que tenga una empresa de cualquier tamaño.

Retrocedamos un momento, hasta que hace unas semanas, cuando el director ejecutivo de Southwest, Gary Kelly, publicó un video para los empleados de Southwest hablando sobre la estrategia de supervivencia de la aerolínea ante una pandemia, incluido un llamado a los sindicatos clave de Southwest para acordar recortes salariales.

Pero luego Southwest organizó su llamada de ganancias del tercer trimestre esta semana. Y si el mensaje de video de Kelly fue sobre defensa, la llamada de ganancias fue sobre insulto.

En particular, Southwest anunció que está expandiendo su red y agregando varias ciudades y aeropuertos nuevos, incluidos los centros de las grandes ciudades y los destinos vacacionales.

Es a lo que los ejecutivos de Southwest se han referido repetidamente como la estrategia de «nieve y sol».

Los nuevos destinos incluyen: conexiones durante todo el año a Miami y Palm Springs a partir del próximo mes y conexiones a Chicago O’Hare y Bush Intercontinental en Houston desde la primera mitad de 2021.

Sin embargo, entre los destinos más pequeños y más centrados en las vacaciones que Southwest también ha anunciado, noto otra característica única: Colorado Springs, que Southwest prestará servicios en la primera mitad del próximo año.

Según los informes, los políticos y los líderes empresariales de esta ciudad han intentado llevar el suroeste allí durante casi dos décadas, al menos 17 años y posiblemente más.

Escribir en El periódicoEl reportero Wayne Heilman, el periódico local de Colorado Springs, contó la historia:

[O]Los funcionarios han intentado muchas veces a lo largo de los años atraer al suroeste aquí, incluso ofreciendo millones en ayuda financiera en 2004 para pagar las mejoras del aeropuerto para acomodar al gigante de bajo costo.

El ex alcalde Lionel Rivera hizo de la contratación de Southwest u otra aerolínea de bajo costo una gran parte de su campaña de alcalde de 2003 que condujo al esfuerzo de 2004. Sin embargo, el suroeste aún no ha llegado.

En 2015, su informe continuó diciendo que Southwest dijo que Colorado Springs estaba al final de la lista de posibles objetivos de expansión de la aerolínea. Pero luego las cosas cambiaron rápidamente.

Los ejecutivos del suroeste llegaron para una gira de dos días a fines de septiembre. Un representante de la empresa que no había estado allí en 13 años le dijo al alcalde de la ciudad, John Suthers, que era «una ciudad diferente» a la última visita.

Poco después, Colorado Springs recibió la buena noticia.

¿Funcionará ahora la estrategia de «nieve y sol»? Por supuesto, eso está por verse. La apuesta de Southwest parece ser que los viajes de placer se recuperarán antes que los viajes de negocios y que, a pesar de un entorno en el que registró una pérdida neta de 1.200 millones de dólares el trimestre pasado, es hora de seguir adelante. reloj.

No importa cómo resulte, vale la pena verlo.

A menudo defiendo que los propietarios de pequeñas empresas presten atención a las grandes decisiones que toman las grandes corporaciones públicas, no siempre para copiarlas. Cometes errores todo el tiempo. En cambio, porque tienen los recursos para analizar a fondo los problemas y, a menudo, tienen que explicar públicamente sus procesos de toma de decisiones.

Es como educación gratuita. Eso es lo que está pasando aquí, y veo dos grandes puestos de comida.

Primero, el suroeste parece estar siguiendo una estrategia que atribuyo más a Warren Buffett por ser concisa, pero que tuvo su origen real mucho antes de eso: tener miedo cuando los demás son codiciosos y codiciosos cuando otros tienen miedo.

¿Debería su empresa pensar eso?

¿Y el otro para llevar? Tenemos que agradecer a la buena gente de Colorado Springs por eso.

Después de luchar una larga lucha para que el suroeste sirviera a su ciudad y mostrar señales de que esto nunca podría suceder, se aferraron a ello. Ahora eres una ilustración inspiradora de la terquedad.

¿Hay algún objetivo comercial que haya perseguido y que esté a punto de abandonar? ¿Y tal vez haya alguna razón para creer que el entorno cambiante podría, en última instancia, hacer que el éxito sea un poco más probable?

Las opiniones expresadas por los columnistas de Inc.com aquí son las suyas, no las de Inc.com.

But then, Southwest hosted its third quarter earnings call this week. And if Kelly's video message was about defense, the earnings call was about offense.

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Most notably, Southwest announced that it's expanding its network, and adding several new cities and airports -- including both big city hubs and vacation destinations.

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It's what Southwest executives repeatedly called a "snow and sun" strategy.

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New destinations include, among others: year-round service to Miami and Palm Springs starting next month, and service to Chicago O'Hare and Bush Intercontinental in Houston starting in the first half of 2021.

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But, one addition stands out most to me among the smaller, more vacation-oriented destinations Southwest also announced: Colorado Springs, which Southwest will begin serving in the first half of next year.

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Politicians and business leaders in that city have been trying to get Southwest to come there for better part of two decades, reportedly -- at least 17 years and quite possibly more. 

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Writing in The Gazette, which is the local newspaper in Colorado Springs, reporter Wayne Heilman recounted the history:

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[O]fficials have tried many times over the years to lure Southwest here, even offering millions of dollars in financial help in 2004 to pay for airport upgrades to accommodate the low-fare giant. 

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Former Mayor Lionel Rivera made attracting Southwest or another low-fare carrier a big part of his 2003 mayoral campaign, leading to the 2004 effort. However, Southwest never arrived, until now.

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As recently as 2015, his report continues, Southwest said Colorado Springs was low on the airline's list of possible expansion destinations. But then, things changed quickly.

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Southwest executives arrived for a two-day tour at the end of September. One company representative who hadn't been there in 13 years told the city's mayor, John Suthers, that it seemed like "a different city" from the last visit.

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Soon after that, Colorado Springs got the good news. 

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Now, will the "snow and sun" strategy work out? That remains to be seen, of course. Southwest's bet seems to be that leisure-oriented travel will recover before business travel, and that despite an environment in which it had $1.2 billion net loss last quarter, it's time to look farther ahead.

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No matter how it turns out, however, it's worth watching. 

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I often advocate for small business owners to look to the big decisions of large, public companies -- not always to copy them; they make mistakes all the time. But, instead, because they have the resources to analyze problems deeply, and they often have to explain their decision making processes publicly.

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It's like a free education. That's what's happening here, and I see two big takeaways.

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First, is that Southwest seems to be following a strategy that I tend to credit to Warren Buffett, because he put it pithily, but that has its true origins long before that: Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.

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Is that the way your business should be thinking?

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And the other takeaway? We have the good people of Colorado Springs to thank for it.

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Having fought a long battle to get Southwest to serve their city, and having weathered signs that it might never happen, they stuck with it. They're now an inspiring, go-to illustration for stubbornness.

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So, is there a business goal you've been pursuing that you're about to give up on? And maybe, is there any reason to think that the changing environment might finally make success a tiny bit more likely? 

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