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(July 09, 2002) - The path from the plane to the rental car is long and tortured in Minneapolis. Up, down and around the airport, the weary traveler wonders if this is really an introduction to Purgatory. Cursing the circumstances that conspired to place him here, he nearly reaches the promised land but is tweaked by a cluster of four related machines at the threshold of the low cost car rental services.
An ATM, a phone card purchasing kiosk, a lottery ticket dispenser and a Star-Tribune Job View Kiosk all occupy the little nook just ahead of the Budget Rentacar desk. The scheme is obvious. Get $20, buy a $10 phone card, buy 10 scratch off lottery tickets and look for a job. Yup, that's what we always do just before wiping the sweat off our brows from the long trek to the "ground transportation."
JobView is a local effort in Minneapolis. With 50 kiosks placed in and around the Metro area, the service brings Sunday's job ads to those who can not afford the Sunday paper or the internet. By cleverly placing the kiosks in key strategic points (like the one we found in the airport), the service helps the newspaper company justify its still exorbitant rates for advertising.
Let's examine the scenario a little more closely. Suppose, we found a job, won the lottery and used our prepaid phone card to call the boss and tell him goodbye. Why, that would be a very clever win for the newspaper industry. It would, in fact, be a scenario worth repeating in all of the airports around the world.
So, we took an hour and watched. 20 people used the ATM machine, 3 of them bought lottery tickets. No one bought a phone card and no one looked for a job. Why? Even bedraggled business travelers (the only market for the machine besides airport employees) don't have the time to figure out a new machine when they are about to rent a car. Like the bad placement of the phone card service (which would work better near the taxi lines), the JobView kiosk was in the wrong place.
It's a possibly good idea wrecked by a lack of thought. Someone at the StarTribune ought to actually care about the results their services produce. They obviously don't.
As we would predict, the newspapers continue to manage the top line without ever getting their fingernails dirty. We'd bet that we watched that kiosk more closely than anyone at the newspaper ever has. Having 50 kiosks is wonderful. Making them work takes hard work. The sense that employment advertising is a business to be managed still eludes the newspaper folks.
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