I remember the day I first learned The Columbus, Ohio was a great place! It was my first day of a college internship when my supervisor yelled “O…H…!” on our way to drop off a package at FedEx. I, of course, asked if the box was too heavy and if he needed me to help carry it. He looked at me and with as much passion as any loyal Buckeye fan (I now know this) and said “Ashley, if you are from Columbus, you know the appropriate response that follows in any Buckeye-blooded crowd is I…O…!”. What a loyal fan! How ironic is that in the future that I would end up working for Southwest Airlines and be charged with marketing Southwest to the community that is The Columbus, Ohio. Not only have I come to admire that most famous cheer, but also the many wonderful things and people of Columbus.
Recently, Southwest’s very own CEO, Gary Kelly, had the privilege (or maybe not since Gary is a longtime Texas Longhorns fan) of hearing the cheer multiple times when he visited the great city of Columbus.
Gary landed and was warmly welcomed by TEAM Columbus! They had decorated the station with banners, balloons, and served up a most delicious BBQ lunch to welcome him to Columbus! Gary enjoyed spending the morning interacting on the frontline and the hardworking Employees enjoyed showing Gary around the station. He then headed over to the beautiful OSU campus to meet with the charismatic football legend, Archie Griffin.
Following that meeting, he discussed the attributes of a good leader and gave insight to the success of Southwest Airlines to MBA students at the OSU Fisher College of Business.
After a great question and answer session, each student was given a $25 off discount coupon toward their next Southwest Airlines flight and one lucky student was the big winner of our “Inflate the Airplane” contest AND two roundtrip tickets on Southwest Airlines.
Gary was then off (you did know Southwest Employees were the most productive in the industry, right?) to a fabulous dinner that was hosted by the Columbus Airport Authority.
The next morning, Gary was the keynote speaker at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce first Annual Breakfast Speaker Series. He spoke to the Chamber Members about the current state of the industry and answered questions from the group. The attendees were invited to try Southwest Airlines’ Business Select product (our new fare that offers priority boarding, an extra Rapid Reward credit and free drink) and given a discount coupon off their next Business Select flight. Finally, one lucky Chamber member won two roundtrip tickets anywhere Southwest flies.
Yes, Gary left Columbus with plenty of OSU gear, but more importantly, he left with a sense of what makes The Columbus, Ohio a great community. It’s very apparent the people of Columbus have a passion for their city and the aviation industry (after all, Ohio is the “Birthplace of Aviation”). Southwest Airlines is proud to be the hometown carrier of Columbus and will continue to have that same passion to provide the best Customer Service to our Ohio Customers! I hope to one day be given the opportunity to “Dot The I,” which is a huge privilege as I have learned, but until then I will simply say “GO BUCKS”, despite my love of the SEC!