I attended a recent lecture presented by Spirit Airlines President and CEO Ben Baldanza at the Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova SouthEastern University in Davie, Florida.
Baldanza shared his business acumen and day to day experience at Spirit Airlines with hungry listeners composed mostly with Nova business students and professors, some Spirit Airlines employees, and a few guests including myself.
Preston Jones, D.B.A. (doctorate in business administration), dean of Nova Southeastern University called Baldanza ¨Professor, Professor Baldanza¨ because he was eloquent, fluent, inspiring, and expressive on a various of topics including culture, business, leadership, strategy, and education.
His prepared power-point presentation included content, data, and pictures about Spirit Airlines which, he said, is one of the leading ultra low-cost carriers in the United States.
Headquartered in Miramar, Florida. Spirit operates scheduled flights throughout the U.S. as well as Latin America, the Caribbean, and Haiti where I’m originally from.
I travel regularly back and forth to Haiti and the Caribbean for my consulting and leadership education business. And most of the time, Spirit Air is my carrier. It fits well my needs.
I buy my tickets on line, preferably 15-22 days in advance searching the least cost as possible. I travel light with my heavy backpack, no carry on, no bag unless my wife urges me to bring stuff to our loved ones back home and to come here with her homeland food. I make sure I pay online and I always have some empty space in my backpack in case of my bag is over 40 pounds.
But, every time I’m at the Fort-Lauderdale counter airport for an early flight to Port-au-Prince, it’s always a nightmare. A very difficult situation to see some old Haitian ladies and sometimes some younger men as well who only speak Creole to be in emotional discussions with cool headed Spirit Air ticketing agents who only speak English pleading for fees for an unchecked carry on, or a bag which would go up to U$100 a piece.
I asked Baldanza an open question about his company diversity culture in general and Haitian Creole cultural competence in particular, he responded that there are upcoming initiatives to educate his customers, including Haitians, at the counter about the services. He also mentioned that Spirit ‘s presence on the market has brought more competitive choices for Haitians to travel.
I totally agree with this. This is good. Nonetheless, I’ll be more confortable to see ¨Professor, Professor Baldanza”, and Spirit Airlines move “from good to great”, by providing culturally competent and related educational customer services to the Haitian community.
This will be coming, he said, announcing some marketing initiatives. That’s some good news and I’ll witness it with my very next trip back to Haiti.