President – Product, Partnership and Marketing Practice
Jay Sorensen‘s research and reports have made him a leading authority on frequent flier programs and the ancillary revenue movement. He is a regular keynote speaker at the annual MEGA Event, spoke at IATA Passenger Services Symposiums in Abu Dhabi and Singapore, and has testified to the US Congress on ancillary revenue issues. His published works are relied upon by airline executives throughout the world and include first-ever guides on the topics of ancillary revenue and loyalty marketing. He was acknowledged by his peers when he received the Airline Industry Achievement Award at the MEGA Event in 2011.
Mr. Sorensen is a veteran management professional with 36 years experience in product, partnership, and marketing development. As president of the IdeaWorksCompany consulting firm, he has enhanced the generation of airline revenue, started loyalty programs and co-branded credit cards, developed products in the service sector, and helped start airlines and other travel companies. His career includes 13 years at Midwest Airlines where he was responsible for marketing, sales, customer service, product development, operations, planning, financial analysis and budgeting. His favorite activities are hiking, exploring and camping in US national parks with his family.
Managing Director – Financial Consulting Practice
Bob Bahlman is a senior executive with a diverse financial background and 23 years experience in strategy development and implementation, contract negotiation, financial and business restructuring. Most recently, he was the Vice President of Business Intelligence for International Cruise & Excursions, a global retailer of member-based travel. Earlier in his career, he was the Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Controller for Midwest Air Group which was a $400 million publicly traded airline group serving more than 50 cities throughout the United States under the Midwest Airlines brand. His extensive finance experience includes these areas: treasury, business analysis, tax function, general and revenue accounting, SEC reporting, internal audit, investor relations, fuel procurement, risk management, information technology and properties and facilities management. Bob has implemented broad-based restructuring strategies to include long-term lease and debt renegotiation, raising new capital through equity placements and managing the process of cost reduction. His work included the delicate balancing act of preparing a bankruptcy filing while working, successfully, to avoid a bankruptcy filing.
Consulting Affiliate – Airline Management & Strategy Practice
B. Ben Baldanza is a trailblazing business leader. As the CEO for Spirit Airlines, he created a new sector of airlines in North America and developed an economic powerhouse that created travel opportunities for millions. Today Ben can help travel businesses increase revenues, reduce costs, properly define their business objectives, and disrupt their competitors. In his directorship roles, he provides value from his diverse business experiences and willingness to challenge current conventions when necessary and appropriate.
Ben has a 35-year career history with airlines and has held senior marketing, operating, and finance roles at American, Avianca, Continental, Northwest, and US Airways. In these roles, he has worked with some of the most visionary business leaders of the last 30 years, and has seen the good times and the bad times of the airline industry up close. He has degrees from Syracuse University and Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, focused on economics, business efficiency, and public policy. He teaches in the Economics program at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, and co-hosts a popular weekly podcast called Airlines Confidential. Ben is married to Marcia Baldanza, a Doctor in Education with a career in public school innovation. They have one son, Enzo Anthony.
Consulting Affiliate – Credit Card, Loyalty Fraud & Travel Insurance Specialty (Glasgow, Scotland)
Michael Smith applies over 23 years of marketing and financial experience to projects such as co-branded credit cards, ancillary revenue opportunities, and frequent flier programs. Since 2003 he has helped airlines, car hire companies, hotel chains, and travel insurers realize greater revenue through the introduction of new products. Michael is regarded as a leading expert on the partner agreements associated with frequent flier programs and the online sale of travel insurance.
Michael is also Executive Chairman of the Airline and Travel Payment and Fraud Summit. This event has been central in identifying the frequent flier program / loyalty fraud issue and helping industry executives understand how to combat the problem. He participates in industry wide airline fraud manager as an instructor. Prior to his consulting career, Michael was responsible managing the extensive portfolio of travel partners for the Executive Club program of British Airways; this included the co-branded credit card relationship with American Express. He helped establish and develop agreements with major travel brands such as Avis, GE Travel Insurance, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. He is experienced with the process of establishing partner agreements, negotiating marketing fees, and creating promotional and exposure opportunities for partners.
Consulting Affiliate – Revenue Management and Pricing (London, United Kingdom)
Dinaz has held senior positions in revenue management at British Airways, was Head of Revenue Management and Pricing at GB Airways and was also Head of Revenue Management and Flight Planning at Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) UK & Ireland. She brings a broad perspective to driving commercial improvement, having worked in various industries, not just aviation but also in cruising, hotels, leisure parks and trains. With over 20 years’ experience within RM and pricing, she has led large commercial teams and has an in-depth understanding of RM systems and best practices. These include demand forecasting, optimization, understanding global markets, point of sale control, distribution channels, trend analysis, consumer metrics, competitor monitoring and data reporting systems. Dinaz places great emphasis on the set up of clear and concise targets and KPI metrics and is adept at leveraging these along with channel management, segmentation and overbooking strategy, to increase profitability.
At GB Airways, Dinaz was an integral part of the team that achieved a successful return to profitability, which then facilitated the sale of the business to easyJet. More recently she has worked with well known airlines in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East and has also gained experience in low cost operations. Dinaz holds a degree level H.C.I.M.A. qualification from the Metropolitan College, Oxford and also a Diploma in Transport and Hospitality Management. She is based in London.
Edward Jacob – Consulting Affiliate
Passenger Operations Practice
Edward Jacob is a senior executive with a diverse corporate background and 40+ years experience in baggage services, ramp operations, airport vendor relations, corporate real estate, and catering operations for domestic and international airlines. For 21 years, he worked for American Eagle Airlines, the wholly owned regional subsidiary of American Airlines. Edward’s most recent role at the carrier was Regional Managing Director for Customer Services. He was responsible for airport services for one of the world’s largest regional airlines, managed a staff totaling 500 employees, and administered a $30 million annual operating budget. Edward’s experience also includes 21 years working at Aer Lingus as a manager.
Edward has extensive knowledge of FAA, TSA, and OSHA federal safety regulations. In addition, he has consulted for a major Middle East carrier on its hub airport baggage system project. He has a particular interest in the development of wireless tracking systems to improve baggage services. Edward’s expertise has resulted in crucial improvements for clients and past employers for revenue growth, profitability, operational performance, safety, and team building goals. He lives near Chicago with his wife, has two children, and four grandchildren. Edward is a member of the Rotary Club of Chicago – O’Hare and remains ever fascinated by the airline industry.
Jerry Scott – Consulting Affiliate
Airline Diversity & Affirmative Action
Jerry Scott is an expert in diversity at all levels in both the for-profit and not for profit worlds. He has worked as a problem solver in established companies as well as start-ups and created programs that have been successful in dealing with crises and routine problems relating to human capital and relationship building as well as rebuilding relationships in today’s cancel culture. By using ground level, head on tactics and a culturally-focused approach, he practices both confrontational and integrated modeling, tailored to the enterprise’s issues as they relate to personal and world views, to find and fix, rather than gloss over, problems.
Scott has over 50 years of management and senior management experience. With 5 years in consumer banking, and over 35 years in the airline industry, (Eastern Airlines and Midwest Express), and in higher education, (Milwaukee Area Technical College, Cardinal Stritch University, Ottawa University and, currently, the University of Wisconsin). He has also served over 10 years with the City of Racine as Human Resources Affirmative Action Officer and Hiring Manager. He has served as arbitrator in the settlement of claims against employers and as a developer and implementer of management training programs. His spare time is spent consuming science fiction (good for stretching the imagination), helping his Master Gardener wife and volunteering for programs to teach adult ESL student reading and as co-facilitator of a men’s encounter group.
Writer and Editorial Consultant
Eric Lucas is an international travel, culture and natural history writer and editor whose work appears in Michelin travel guides, Alaska Airlines Beyond Magazine, Westways and numerous other publications. Founding editor of Midwest Airlines Magazine, he is the author of eight books, including the 2017 Michelin Alaska guide. Eric has followed and written about the travel industry for more than 25 years. He lives on San Juan Island, Washington, where he grows organic garlic, apples, beans and hay; visit him online at TrailNot4Sissies.com
More Resources and Services
Through its consulting affiliates, IdeaWorksCompany coordinates the delivery of additional services related to ancillary revenue, a la carte pricing, and loyalty marketing.