Ups and Downs At Mercer Airport

Truisms Taught

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Melinda Sherwood and Barbara Fox were published

in U.S. 1 Newspaper on September 8, 1999. All rights reserved.

Eyes on E-Business:

Business via the Internet is like trying to sell a product

from the wrong side of a one-way mirror: It’s impossible to see the

customer, but somehow, you have to find out what they want. Even businesses

on the cutting edge of Web technology are still, in many respects,

flying blind.

Leave it up to a couple of MIT alumni to create "glasses"

for webpreneurs. Eric Richard and Matt Cutler, both computer

science majors at MIT, developed software that allows businesses to

"watch" people on the Web. The technology answers questions

like: Where are my customers coming from, and what part of my website

are they most attracted to. Richard and Cutler, who already had a

healthy consulting business running from their dorm rooms, founded in 1995. Now they whisper in the ears of clients ranging

from Charles Schwab and IBM to Princeton University.

"One of the mantras around here is you cannot manage that which

you can’t measure," says Richard, a guest speaker at the Association

of Internet Professionals meeting on Wednesday, September 15, at 6

p.m. at the Sarnoff Corporation. The seminar, "What you can find

out about your Web Traffic," is free and open to the public. Call


Before he even graduated, Richard (MIT, Class of 1995) wrote one of

the first books on back-end website construction, "How to Build

a Website." One of his first clients, he recalls, was ESPN. "They

had heard of the Web, but they didn’t know what it could offer them,"

he says. "We were hired guns to help people develop their Web


The situation is only slightly different today. People certainly know

what the Web can offer, but few know how to get there, says Richard.

"I was visiting a client," he recalls, "and he said, `Look

around this space — you see people developing content, buying

ads, and all of this money is being spent. But we can’t tell you where

that money is going or how effective it is. We couldn’t tell you whether

it’s even appropriate content or not. The bottom line is we’re going

to be measured by the effectiveness of our website and we don’t know

how to measure it.’"

NetGenesis software, which starts at about $15,000, uses "cookies"

to track users on a given website. Harte Hanks, a market research

firm, helps netGenesis formulate gigs and gigs of data in terms of

standard market research at warp speed. "Run a marketing campaign

and get an analysis back in six months," says Richard. "If

it’s an online campaign, get results back in an hour."

Tracking hits to your website just isn’t enough, says Richard. "It’s

about quality of information," says Richard. "Businesses need

to know who buys and who doesn’t, and what’s the difference between

those two groups." Also, he adds, businesses need to know which

promotional efforts get responses, and what portions of the website

are most successful, so that you can reallocate resources accordingly.

For example, a popular webpage can be brought to a higher tier within

the overall site, and writers or designers can fashion content in

response to demand.

How will customers feel about being watched? "You have to be able

to position in the way that it’s valuable to the end user," says

Richard. "If they feel they are conferring information to the

vendor, and getting back, then that’s a trade off." Richard also

says that netGenesis cannot track consumers once they have left the

website, acquire a user’s name, E-mail, address or phone number, or

identify the consumer’s surfing habits. "I can’t tell you if a

person coming to our site also spends a lot of time on ESPN. There

are companies out there who do provide that functionality, but we


Understanding trends on just one website is enough, Richard believes,

to help consumers and businesses come to a new understanding of each

other. "The Walmarts of the world spend huge amounts of money

trying to understand their customers," says Richard. "The

Web is clearly a whole new way to interact with customers."

— Melinda Sherwood

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Ups and Downs At Mercer Airport

The day that Eastwind Airlines announced the bad news

— that Tuesday, September 7, would be the final day its flights

left Trenton Mercer Airport — another airline was waiting in the

wings with good news. Shuttle America, the airport’s remaining


carrier, is introducing service to Boston, reviving the popular route

that Eastwind Airlines was forced to cancel earlier this summer.

Mark R. Cestari, vice president of marketing for Shuttle


is starry-eyed about being the airport’s sole carrier, despite the

fact that the airport appears to be fated to doomed airlines. In an

interview with the Times of Trenton, Cestari said he expects the


flight will be "at least as good" as the Buffalo flight, which

is already filling 52 percent of seats — more than needed to break

even, he says.

Eastwind is the 10th carrier to close down operations at Ewing airport

since 1983, when United began offering flights. Other short-term


Holiday Airlines, Ransome Air, Henson Air, JetStream, USAir, and


Air. None lasted as long as Eastwind, which moved in in 1995, but

the Greensboro-based company lost nearly $33 million during that time.

Fed up, airline owners U.M Holdings in Haddonfield fired president

Terry Hallcom and brought in consultants to sell off what


When a potential sale fell through, however, they decided to


service altogether. The company is still looking for a buyer, at a

minimum bid of $10 million. The operating certificate from the Federal

Aviation Administration and access to two leased Boeing 737s is also

for sale.

Shuttle America does not fly 737s. Instead, the airline uses the more

economical 50-seat turbo-props, which may be one reason the company

can afford to stay in the air. Other recent moves include suspending

service to Norfolk, Virginia, adding a fourth flight on the daily

Buffalo route, maintaining service from Wilmington, Delaware to


and, of course, adding service to Boston.

Beginning September 28, Shuttle America will offer four flights daily

between Ewing and Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts — not

Logan, the national airport that Eastwind flew in to. Hanscom Field

is roughly 30 minutes away from Boston proper on along Route 128,

the region’s high-tech corridor. Flights leave Trenton Mercer daily

at 6:40 a.m., 11:10 a.m., 2:55 p.m., and 5:50 p.m. An introductory

fare of $49 is available for those who make reservations during


and it will remain $49 for passengers booking 21 days in advance.

For short notice, the fare is $89. Walk-ons pay $129.

Shuttle America, Trenton Mercer Airport, West


08628. 860-386-4200; fax, 860-386-4399. Home page:

Top Of Page
Truisms Taught

Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. That is one of

the aphorisms offered by Dale Carnegie in his benchmark book

"How to Make Friends and Influence People." A U.S. 1 reader

who took the Dale Carnegie Training course years ago says he still

remembers that motto. All the students in his class had to pick one

of the sayings in the book and carry it in their wallets for the


of the course. "That made me a much more positive person,"

says this former student.

In this area new sections of the Dale Carnegie Training course start

on Tuesday, September 14, at 8:30 a.m. at Rhodia on Prospect Plains

Road and on Wednesday, September 29, at 6 p.m. at the Somerset


Each weekly session lasts 3 1/2 hours, and the 12-week course costs

$1,650 (including breakfast) in Cranbury and $1,550 in Somerset. Call

George Contos for information at 732-422-0500. Contos promises

you will learn the following:

Leadership and teamwork, to develop skills that will



Interpersonal and human relations development, to


greater sensitivity and genuine interest in others and their ideas,

and to develop a more assertive take-charge attitude.

Presentation skills, to think on your feet, and to relax

and speak confidently.

Motivation, to have a more consistent energy level, to

be more flexible in managing and motivating others.

Daily communications, to become more concise, to sell

ideas convincingly.

Confidence and self image, to take more risks, to become

friendlier, more outgoing.

Stress reduction, to cope with deadlines and time tables,

to understand different approaches to people problems.

Goal direction, to address personal weaknesses with an

improvement plan, to strengthen commitment with a more enthusiastic

approach to career goals.

Do the numbers and you will find that the Dale Carnegie training

would cost about $37 an hour. Is it worth it? Ask a sponsor, who will

surely tell you how some Carnegie alumni were promoted to jobs brought

raises of $10,000 or more. Or you can ask a former student, one who

learned how to not criticize, condemn, or complain.

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