The personalisation of air travel – customer service vs low prices

By: Jo Middleton

February 3, 2016

Categories:

Content Marketing - Customer Experience - Data Marketing - Digital Marketing - eCommerce -

 

Think for a minute about the last time you booked a flight. What factors impacted your decision? The chances are that cost came pretty high on the list.

Over the last few years, air travel has entered into what feels like an almost supermarket style price war, with budget airlines playing the role of Aldi and Lidl, offering basic, low cost flights and driving down prices across the board.

Where the supermarkets have the power though to cut costs and offer discounts on loss leaders, there’s only so low that airlines can go, and people are beginning to realise that price isn’t everything. Great service, personalised communications and valuable extras must play in part if airlines are going to revive brand loyalty and undo the effect of years of cost cutting.

A 2014 whitepaper on the future of air travel, written by The Economist Intelligence Unit, identifies three broad areas ripe for development; better use of existing technologies, best practice in hospitality and the integration of customer data.

Great, so what next then? How can airlines exploit these opportunities?

We’ve seen quite a few examples recently of companies recognising the need to improve customer experience, and offering extras that they hope will add value for customers, give them more useful data, and encourage repeat bookings.

 

Free e-journal downloads from Lufthansa

In January this year, Lufthansa introduced a new complimentary service, giving passengers the option, three days pre-flight, to download two free newspapers or magazines of their choice to their own device. Not only does this add value for individuals, but it should help Lufthansa learn more about it’s customers, enabling them to further tailor offers and services in the future. The carrier now plans to introduce a tiered level of service depending on travel class and frequent flyer status.

 

Apple watch ordering with Monarch Airlines

A great example of embracing technology and making life easy for passengers, last year Monarch Airlines launched an Apple Watch app to enable individuals to order food, drink, and duty free items from their seat, via their smartwatch. The Apple Watch app also shows flight time and distance remaining, current altitude and ground speed, as well as real-time weather updates for the destination airport.

 

Free in-flight massages from Air Malta

What’s particularly interesting about this initiative is that it’s aimed at economy class passengers – traditionally not the target audience for complimentary extras – showing that Air Malta appreciates the importance of improving customer experience across the board. The service came about through a partnership with Myoka Spas and involves professional therapists offering complimentary hand, feet and neck massages during the flight. The carrier says that The Sky Spa is “just the beginning and part of a series of similar projects that Air Malta will be launching in the near future aimed at enhancing customers’ experience and showing that the airline cares more”.

 

These are just a few examples of innovations in the air travel industry, but we’re sure that over the next couple of years we’ll see more interesting developments as carriers go all out to capture the hearts and minds of passengers, rather than simply their wallets.


 

Customer experience has always been, and will continue to be a hot topic in digital marketing, hence why #DMWF are proud to include leaders in this field at our conferences.

In Singapore (29 Feb & 1 Mar), Tina Dicicco, Chief Marketing Officer at AirJuan, will be covering this very topic: customer experience in the air travel industry – you can find her at 11.20am on day 2. As well as Tina, we will be hearing from Karlijn Vogel-Meijer, Social Media Manager at KLM, at #DMWF Amsterdam on the 13-14 April. Karlijn’s slot on the transition from Social to Personal can be heard at 4.30pm on Day 1.

To register for #DMWF Singapore and for more information, please visit our website.

Photo credit – (c)iStock.com/[Mutlu Kurtbas]