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A Hard Day's Night--But It's a Lot of Fun

slogan
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You've probably caught on by now that Southwest Airlines' Leaders are strong believers in open communication.  Our Leaders share information with Employees in a variety of ways, including: a monthly Employee magazine (LUVLines); our CEO, Gary Kelly's weekly phone newsline update; and our daily online newsletter (Today@SWA).  In addition, the Company hosts its own annual version of the "State of the Union" address...our event is called Message to the Field.  Herb delivered the very first Message in October of 1985, and we've had them every year since.  These days, the Message to the Field events take place at the beginning of each year in several cities across the country. The past couple of years, we've held Messages in Chicago, Baltimore, Orlando, Phoenix, Oakland, and Dallas.  Depending on the city, attendance ranges from 500 - 3,000 people (with PHX and DAL being the largest).  Cities are strategically chosen with the hope that Southwest Employees across the nation will be able to easily travel a short distance to a Message near the city in which they live and work.  We secure group rates at local hotels for Employees who travel from other locations and need to stay overnight; we negotiate discounted rates for rental cars for Employees who prefer to drive; and we also provide free shuttle service between the airport and the Message venue before and after each event. Several months before each Message, our Team researches venues in each city and determines which one best suits our needs.  Once we determine that a particular venue meets all of our requirements, we work with our General Counsel Department to secure contracts.  Some other pre-Message work includes finding contractors who can handle all of our audio/visual needs at each Message; securing a sign language interpreter for each city; and arranging security to patrol parking lots the evening of each event. Once the cities, dates, and venues are confirmed, we publish all of this information for our Employees so they can determine which Message they would like to attend.  Our talented Graphic Design and Creative Services Team also designs posters advertising the Messages, which we send to each airport, Maintenance Base, Flight Operations Domicile, Inflight Base, Provisioning Office, Reservations Center, Marketing Office, and People Department throughout the Southwest system.  The day of each event, we visit the venue and setup registration tables where Employees will checkin upon arriving.  Each Employee attending the Message completes a brief registration form, which will be included in the drawing for prizes at the end of the Message.  We also set up tables for various Employee vendors who want to sell merchandise (usually T-shirts, go figure) to Employees before and after the event.  It's show time!  Typically, the emcee (our President and fellow blogger, Colleen Barrett) starts each Message by welcoming the crowd and, by measure of applause, taking roll call.  It is common for certain work groups or Teams from a specific location to wear matching T-shirts for group camaraderie and easy identification.  After roll call, a video highlighting major events and accomplishments from the previous year is shown, setting the tone of the Message.  Our Employee Communications Team works endless hours taping these videos, and each year their creativity is unmatched. Gary then makes his entrance.  He delivers his "Message," which typically recaps the highlights of the previous year and addresses goals for the upcoming year.  Don't be fooled...this "finance guy" is always enlightening, inspirational, and motivating.  After his remarks, Gary opens the floor to all Employees, who are encouraged to ask him and Colleen any questions that their inquiring minds want to know.  As with every Southwest event, at the end of each Message, we have a drawing for fabulous prizes...hotel stays; airline tickets; SWA merchandise; etc.  One lucky winner from each Message will even win a trip to Seattle to pick up a brand-new 737 from Boeing (see Sunny's post "Can We Bottle That Smell?"). The 2007 Message to the Field will be no exception...this is one event our Employees won't want to miss. 
15 Comments
J_7
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1) You open your "Hard Day's Night" article saying SWA leaders believe in open communication, yet under "Contact Us" you offer only a phone line or "write a letter", but no emailing options. I called to make a helpful suggestion and I felt that the operator who answered not only didn't fully understand my comment and could not adequately summarize it, but wasn't used to receiving suggestions over the phone and may not even pass it along. 2) I have a GREAT suggestion for your "Wanna Get Away?" commercials. ANYONE who watches football will LOVE this! Recently, Romo quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys fumbled a snap (a HUGE and unprofessional error) so the kicker couldn't kick a field goal, singlehandedly causing Dallas to lose their playoff game. Being a female and not a huge football fan, when I witnessed this humiliating scene, I still know enough that this will haunt Romo and Dallas for years to come! I think you should pay Romo to let you use that one on your next "Wanna Get Away?" commercial!!
nbabin
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Does anyone know when Southwest is going to get direct flights to Birmingham Alabama again? Since, Katrina we have not had them.
Lessly_VanHouta
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Hello, My name is Lessly VanHoutan and I am currently looking for a long lost friend who is one this website. His name is Vince Eakes and is a flight attendant. I would really like it if you could get this message to him. He is very important to me and crazy circumstances have made us loose touch. You can give him this infomation if possible. He is in Dallas, TX, I know that much. Kindest regards, Lessly VanHoutan lvanhoutan@foliowine.com 707-363-8255 Bless you!
Michael1
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Great Blog Shelley! Do you happen to have a recipe for Macaroni and Cheese?
jmalone
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Lessly - I have messaged Vince and asked him to check out the blog to receive your message. James Malone MDW FA
devansjr
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Shelley...Wonderful Blog...You are quite talented, perhaps you should write for an inflight magazine or something!!! I know all of the SWA Employees appreciate the hard work that goes into the Messages...Thanks for all you do!!
Lacey
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YEAH--IT'S MESSAGE TIME! It's truly one of my favorite events we have at Southwest Airlines and just shows again that the Company puts their People first. It's nice to attend such events and see folks from different cities who all share the common pride of being Southwest Airlines Employees. I hope every Employee gets the chance to attend at least one a year. GO GARY!!
FriendofBlogBoy
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Shelley, Hey! One of my favorite Culture Chicks gets on the writing side of the blog!! Congratulations -- it is great to see your work, and of course, David is correct. You're a fantastic writer and I hope to see MORE of your stuff here very soon. I know that a number of people are very anxiously looking forward to this year's Message to the Field, especially those who will be EXCITED to attend their first one! :-) You gals are wonderful and Brian is lucky to be surrounded by so many talented and lovely ladies! Kim :-)
FriendofBlogBoy
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Psssssst..... Hey, Lacey -- I see your note up there replying to Shelley's blog. I'm sorry I was out of town and couldn't answer right away, but I do appreciate you filling in for me by replying, although I appreciate even more being missed! By the time you read this, you'll know why I didn't jump in here sooner! Hugs, Kim :-) P. S. You and Shelley and Sunny are just terrific at showing real LUV, and it means a lot to me!! Oh yeah, uhhhh, Brian, I LUV you too, man....but I don't want your beer. I'll just settle for a handful of candy corn. :-)
Margaret_Nahmia
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To those complaining about service Hey nothing perfect even for Southwest You should worry only when thing consisently go bad Prehaps she is not right for phone service and may be off answering written communication Can we have another rule on this blog? No defaming of competitors please especially the one in Arizona gunning for Southwest's position (lol) I will not mention the name because that it seems to be anathema around here.
FriendofBlogBoy
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Margaret -- FYI: Southwest does not have any competitors, only imitators. All other AAirlines are second-rate! Kim :-)
gguillory
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Hi Shelley, great post... You "CHICKS" do a wonderful job putting the messages together... keep up the good work and tell Mary Ann, Cynthia, Lacey, Lori, Marilyn, and Sunny I said hi... "G"
FriendofBlogBoy
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Shelley, Is it true that at the Message to the Field, there is a special time when Brian "Blog Boy" dances on a table wearing nothing but strategically placed pieces of candy corn? Kim :-)
blusk
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Sorry Kim, that event is by special invitation only. Blog Boy
FriendofBlogBoy
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That's ok, Mr. Boy, it is not that I wanted to see it, I was just curious if I should watch for a review in the Observer... LOL :-)