There are a trillion ways to book a flight to your favorite holiday destination. Every individual has its own preferred way of finding the right flight. One might choose the offline way, and visit a travel agent who will book a flight and a hotel in one simple click. The other one likes to accept the challenge and find the cheapest flight possible to the destination. Lastly, there are others who book directly via the website of the airline itself, for example klm.com or transavia.com.
Though, the business’s main motive is to create long-lasting relationships with their customers. When having created this, the business is certain that they will have loyal customers who are willing to return. This relationship has to develop during doing business between the company and the customer.
Here, a problem arises when thinking of airlines that are cooperating with other third party online travel agents such as Expedia or Travelbird. No direct contact between the airline and the customer is available as the travel agent is executing the booking from the customer. One can say that there is a secondary relationship between the customer who is booking a holiday via a third party online travel agent, and the airline. A secondary relationship can be defined as a short-term relationship, there is a limited degree of social interaction and there is no deep emotional feeling (Peelen, E., & Beltman, R., 2013). The term “secondary relationship” can be applied to this case.
To create a “primarily relationship”, where a long-lasting relationship and direct and continuously contact is crucial, it is important that the airline industry put more effort on working on independently and as an entity rather than working with third party online travel agents. When having a major focus on marketing purposes of the airlines, a stronger relationship can be created with the customers instead of trying to create a relationship through a third party. Moreover, trust has to be created between the customer and the business. This can be done through exchange of resources and emotional responses (Moorman C., 1993), which is only possible by having direct contact, without the third party.
Moreover, a customer-supplier relationship can be defined as a relationship that exists of the interactions that take place between at least 2 parties (Peelen, E., & Beltman R., 2013). It is important to take past and future interactions into account to have a positive influence on the relationships. To create this customer-supplier relationship, there should definitely not be a bridge between airlines and their customers – the third party.
Furthermore, to maximize the engagement between the customer and the business, there shouldn’t be a third party involved, in-between. This leads to insufficient communication between the business, in this case the airline, and the customer. The business should become more independent so that they can focus on all their customers on one line. Having implemented that, the business is more able to establish and develop a close and long-term relationship with their customers, instead of trying to reach them through the process of booking a holiday by a third online travel agent.
Moorman, C., Deshpande, R. and Zaltman, G. (1993) Factors affecting trust in market research relationships, Journal of Marketing, 57, January, 81-101.
Peelen, E., Beltman, R. (2013), Customer Relationship Management, 2nd edition, UK: Pearson
Photo credits: Joe the Goat Farmer used under cc 2.0