Whether it is a birthday, wedding, anniversary or mother’s day, during these special days every client is happy with a little extra. It happens more often that airlines intensify a relationship with their guests by playing a role during important life events. Lifetime memories satisfy both the customer and the airline with the aim to create loyal customers, produce word of mouth advertising and create key moments for acquisition.
Life events offer opportunities for businesses to provide value, depending on the value proposition. The Social Readjustment Rating Scale by Holmes and Rahe (1967) assesses the impact that life events have on the psychosocial balance of individuals, explaining changes in behavior, attitude and conviction on customers. Being there for the customer, requires airlines to increase the value of the customer base. They have to understand the customer’s feelings, thoughts and actions, which can be relevant to the possible provided value. As mentioned by Peelen (2013): “the customer is in an active mode, having to make choices that might otherwise be putt off.”
A perfect example of understanding the customer’s feelings, thought and actions is shown by Southwest Airlines, that throw a surprise wedding shower in Baltimore. (Southwest Airlines, 2016) A couple from the US has been flying with Southwest Airlines over the last few years to see each other. While Andy Mcllvaine was lugging three bottles of champagne to propose his girlfriend, he talked to some SouthWest employees. Impressed by his story, they gave him a hundred dollar voucher. But they did not stop here. Afterwards, Southwest gathered over a hundred passengers, staff members from Southwest and other airlines with 500 roses, signs and champagne, throwing out a wedding shower. (Graaf, 2015)
Any and his wife are identified by the relationship policy of Peelen as being in the maturity phase. In this phase, the supplier encounters its most profitable and loyal customers. The level of spending is high and the chance of ending the relationship is low. After the wedding shower, Any respects the company and is likely to book a flight with them in the future. (Peelen, 2013)
Besides a wedding, many companies offer special discounts and bonuses during a birthday. As an example, China Airlines’s Dynasty Flyer Program gives members a 5% discount when booking tickets during their birthday month. Furthermore, KLM/Air France’s Flying Blue offers 1,000 bonus miles if you travel within 100 days of your birthday. In the end, nothing can compete with Lufthansa’s benefits, offering a free upgrade or complimentary breakfast during the entire stay on Swissôtel bookings. Besides, this offer is valid for an entire year. (Berman, 2015)
Some effort causes customers to be satisfied. An example is given by the Returntocustomer (n.d.) about a parent who was flying with her four children, when a flight attendant gave her a very own trash bag to help them out. In the interview, the parent states: “this was a great help, the flight attendant anticipated our needs, my flight was a little less stressful and Southwest had a cleaner plane. Everybody won.” (Returntocustomer, n.d.) By anticipating the customer’s need the airline reduces customer service demand later.
Life events are unique possibilities for the Airline industry to prove value to its guests. With the increasing demand for customer engagement, businesses are challenged to offer a little extra to its customers. These extras cause customers to be satisfied and loyal, and with the final aim to produce word of mouth advertising. Companies should react upon life events now, before their competitors do.
Author: Jade van Huisseling
Berman M. (August 27, 2015). Birthday Benefits from Airline and Hotel Loyalty Programs. Retrieved on September 20, 2016. Retrieved from http://thepointsguy.com/2015/08/birthday-benefits/
Graaf, M. (April 2, 2015) Love is in the air! Southwest Airlines throw wedding shower at airport for long-distance couple who spend the relationship flying to see each other. Retrieved on September 20, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3023423/Love-air-Southwest-Airlines-throw-wedding-shower-airport-long-distance-couple-spend-relationship-flying-eachother.html
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management(Second ed.). Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.
Returntocustomer (n.d.) How to anticipate customer needs. Retrieved on September 20, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.returncustomer.com/how-to-anticipate-customer-needs/
Southwest Airlines (March 14, 2016) Southwest Airlines throws a surprise wedding shower in Baltimore! Retrieved on September 20, 2016. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkIkTWXg8Xc