What used to be the simple act of selling a seat on an aeroplane and functioning as a mode of transportation, bringing customers from one airport to airport, has significantly changed due to the way customers are able to access information. Nowadays airline customers expect more than just the transportation from A to B. Airlines have already tried to build relationships through frequent flyer programs, but with every airline having a FFP it is not guaranteed loyalty anymore. They should take these loyalty programs to the next level and focus on the end-to-end experience to make the journey as seamless as possible and bridge what now often is experienced as frustrating fragmented activities, because different stages are handled by different departments. With the technology and customer data collection of today, it allows airlines to get to know and engage their customers on an individual basis creating individual value propositions and customized personalized experiences to make a journey great. It is great experiences that lead to advocacy and recommendations, as well to customer retention (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).
Applying Marketo’s 5 principles of marketing engagement to the end-to-end experience, airlines should think forward on looking for ways to implement one digital environment to integrate the disconnected activities. One digital environment that would be personal to each passenger based on their needs and wants, by giving the passengers several options that would customize their journey at every stage. Many airlines such as KLM and EasyJet have already incorporated a mobile app that shows live boarding updates and allow passengers to scan their boarding pass through their mobile devices. However, what would make it significantly less stressful experience, would be to incorporate live flight updates as well as on traffic and train routes the passengers will have to take from their location and possibly warn them if there are any delays and advise them to leave earlier. According to a survey by PWC (2015) 33% of travellers would like to have their luggage sent to their accommodation ahead of them. Airlines could implement the option of a luggage pick up and drop off service alongside the ticket.
Ways to make the in-flight experiences more seamless could be by connecting the flight passengers with the airline crew through an instant messenger giving the option to pre-order food and beverages and entertainment such as magazines. Options like these could improve the engagement of frequent flyers, giving them the privilege to pay with their collected miles for the pre-ordered products. Contactless payment and customer information opens a new door to on board duty free shopping and delivery service to the hotel or home (PWC, 2015). These are just examples of possibilities, but by continuously applying the customer data to create journey innovations it would improve and exceed the end-to-end flight experience that would increase the customer satisfaction, as a result strengthen the relationship with their customers.
Beelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management . Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.
Marketo. (2015). The 5 Principles of Engagement Marketing. Retrieved from Marketo.
PWC. (2015, November 18). Creating a seamless pre-flight experience – from searching for and booking a flight to going through the departure gate. Retrieved September 15, 2016, from PWC: http://pwc.blogs.com/industry_perspectives/2015/11/creating-a-seamless-pre-flight-experience-from-searching-for-and-booking-a-flight-to-going-through-t.html
PWC. (2015, November 26). Taking off from an airport near you: the new personalised and seamless in-flight customer experience. Retrieved September 15, 2016, from PWC: http://pwc.blogs.com/industry_perspectives/2015/11/taking-off-from-an-airport-near-you-the-new-personalised-and-seamless-in-flight-customer-experience.html