The Importance Of The Physical Arena In The Airline Industry: The Case Of “United Breaks Guitars”

In this vastly growing technological age, when consumers can so easily review, rate, and connect with their friends, families, and even businesses online, one can argue that the need for the excellent customer service in the physical arena is needed. “It has taken less than twenty years to become integrated with internet technology and provide mobile virtual access” (Peelan, E., 2013). The physical environment of the airline industry is where all of the action takes place, as each moment of truth builds up a customers’ perception of the company’s brand. By engaging with a desk clerk upon arrival at the gate, or by asking a steward for another beverage mid-flight, the consumer’s experience can range from poor to positive on a quick sliding scale. Disputably, the quality of the consumer’s psychical experience enables the consumer to discuss his immediate needs, complaints, or positive reviews on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, submitting a contact form, or even e-mailing into the airline companies.

As an example, let’s look to Dave Carroll’s experience with United Airlines in July 2009. Unfortunately, Mr. Carroll’s guitar was ruined in a flight from Halifax to Chicago; and he documented this experience by creating a series of music videos on YouTube. The first video describes a first-hand encounter of watching his guitar being tossed around by baggage handlers while loading the airline. This video received nearly 150,000 views within the first twenty four hours. United Airlines contacted the musician shortly after this incident became public. The second video goes on to tell about the feedback that was given to the artist; and the third film discusses engagement that other consumers who have reached out to Carroll with their own negative experiences. The final line of the trilogy song says, “They say that you’re (United) changing, and I hope you do, ‘Cause if you don’t then who would fly with you.” Overall, this series of experiences from Carroll speaks volumes on the matter of customer engagement. These viral videos have been seen across the world and affected the choices of many potential prospects for United Airlines. One could argue that had United Airlines focused on handling baggage more carefully to begin with, and having an honest, reliable approach to customer complaints, these videos may have not been made. Carroll has gone on to publish a book about his ingenuity and tackling against an airline organization’s figurehead with social media applications.

This example could easily apply to any airline, and proves that with a focus on the consumer’s experience in the physical arena, consumers will share excellent experiences, positive reviews, and feel fulfilled from the purchase. In turn, this will increase a brand’s image and encourage other customers to discuss their positive experiences as well.

Works Cited 

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. United Kingdom: Pearon Education Limited.

Carroll, D. (2015). United Breaks Guitars. Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo

Carroll, D. (2015). United Breaks Guitars 2. Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-UoERHaSQg

Google Books. (2015). United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media. Retrieved from: https://books.google.nl/books/about/United_Breaks_Guitars.html?id=BkqDmAEACAAJ&hl=enMedia

Not Just Your Average Search Engine

Google. Nearly everyone on the planet has heard of this search engine and uses it on a daily basis. Over 40,000 search queries are answered on average every second, and annually, that adds up to over 3.5 billion searches every single day (Internet Live Stats, 2015). Imagine how many of these queries are related to booking a flight, finding the best travel deals, and searching for a traveler’s next destination.

Since inception in 1998, Google has been growing rapidly, with more use than any other search engine in the market, including Bing and Yahoo. It has even developed its own form of social media, Google Plus, which is a growing platform for business and personal use. With Gmail and its internet browser, Google Chrome, Google can track what kind and automatically save information one is discussing, or searching for, even in unsaved draft emails (US News And World Report, 2015). Users can access this website on their mobile smart phones, on laptops, personal computers, and at work, allowing for a unique, personalized experience with each use.

When looking at Google’s influence on the aviation industry, it is fair to say that it could easily take over the majority of online bookings in the future. For example, Google Flights Search has become a main competitor with third party websites such as Expedia, and even with company branded sites, such as EasyJet.com or RyanAir.com. Currently, a user can book a round trip, a multi-city trip, or a one way flight with different preferences, such as business, economy, and premium, with a comprehensive look at all major competitors. Google Flights Search even highlights the best flights in regards to time travelled and price point. Depending on the user’s location, the interface will also showcase nearby popular destinations with visual photographs and inexpensive flight rates. If a user has booked a fight with another company, the website will save this information and have the ability to remind the user about the flight number as well as time, date, and location of arrival and departure. With a few clicks, a user could search “when is my flight?” and this information will be readily available, pending that Google’s software has the user’s IP address on file.

With expert analytical data software available, Google can track users through numerous segmentation and tracking information, such as path analyses, flow visualizations, navigation flow reports, and goal flow reports to provide insight to a business’ conversions paths (Analytics Talk, 2011). In recent years, Google Glasses were utilized in a professional working environment with Virgin Airlines and several airports, like Edinburgh Airport. The company is re-working on this product and did call for a temporary recall, though these hands free devices gave duty managers the opportunity to use less paper, give great customer service, and have access to digital files (SITA, 2014). Google Maps also allows a user to view an airport’s location with a digital version of a map, and with Google Earth for a real world look at what a user can expect while there.

Other airline companies will need to keep up with Google by having up to date customer engagement software, easy to use websites, interactive social media accounts to meet the consumers’ needs, and at the very least, the ability to track a customer’s personal information, IP address, and exchanges with the company throughout the entire customer to business relationship. Many airline companies, such as Transavia, ask the consumer for basic personal information, birth date, reason for travelling, and offers the ability to sign up for newsletter updates. This is the first stage of keeping a customer in part with the Customer Lifetime Pyramid. By segmenting consumers through simple criteria (geographical, demographic, socioeconomic characteristics), and profiling these users with various personas as previously discussed, airline companies can market the right information to the market that needs it most. Furthermore, using a Path Analysis will be beneficial to learn more about how, when, and where the user has been before, during, and after booking with the website’s interface. With a reactive approach, if the user did not book a flight, follow up measures can be taken to ensure that the consumer has a stress-free and enjoyable experience as well as bringing in revenue into the company.

In an interview with a hotel franchise owner in Kamloops, British Columbia, Tim Rodgers predicted that within a few years, a user will source Google as a go-to booking agent for hotel rooms across the globe. In all aspects of customer engagement, he said that it could be possible to view inside rooms, read reviews, and book online rather than using a third party website or booking through the hotel’s staff or call centre. This is already a reality with airline companies, and with the rapid growth rate of modern technology, the future could hold infinite the future (Tim Rodgers, 2014). Ben Baldanza, the CEO of Spirit Airlines said, that within one hundred years, “Google’s “put me there” technology [will be] implemented into its maps software, rendering all airlines obsolete” (USA Today, 2014).

All in all, current technological advances are keeping the customer engagement industry in a fast paced, ever evolving market. Google has proven to be able to keep up with the knowledge industry, and has the ability to potentially control the majority of airline sales, while allowing consumers to have a care-free experience with the best price in mind.

Works Cited

Analytics Talk. (2011). Path Analysis in Google Analytics with Flow Visualization. Retrieved from Analytics Talk: Digital Analytics For Business: http://cutroni.com/blog/2011/10/19/path-analysis-in-google-analytics-with-flow-visualization/

Internet Live Stats. (2015). Google Search Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics/

Rodgers, T. (2014, October 28). General Manager, Best Western Plus. (H. Mikal, Interviewer)

SITA. (2014, June 18). Google Glass At Copenhagen Airport. Retrieved from News Releases: http://www.sita.aero/pressroom/news-releases/google-glass-at-copenhagen-airport—service-with-a-smile

US News and World Report. (2015). Google’s Gotcha. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2013/05/10/15-ways-google-monitors-you?page=2

USA Today. (2014). Future of Aviation Airline CEOs Predictions. Retrieved from USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/2014/01/01/future-of-aviation-airline-ceos-predictions/4267643/

Linking C.E.M Theory To Crowd Branding And The Future of Crowd Sourcing

Crowd sourcing has quickly become a trending technique for aviation companies to build relationships with their customers in the marketplace and to allow each individual consumer to contribute to an innovative process. Having similar effect of meeting the consumer in an arena, crowd sourcing is an outsourcing tactic used to “engage the masses, the crowd, and non-professional bystanders, to get involved in carrying out some of the company’s tasks or roles” (Peelan, Beltman; 2013). By asking questions, urging consumers to react on a social media post, or even by voting on an online poll, this customer engagement management model allows a business to create new relationships with potential customers and continue building relationships with loyal, repeat customers, also known as ambassadors and partners.

When relating this concept to the aviation industry, our team found that co-creating and crowd sourcing has been used trending over the past ten years to develop an idea, vote for a preferred idea, and even help to decorate an airplane with delft blue tiles. In 2011, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines utilized a crowd sourcing campaign called Tile & Inspire to “encourage community based design while preserving the brand’s Dutch heritage” (Tribal Worldwide, 2011). By using an accessible interface, contributors could upload their profile pictures and “transform them into a piece of Dutch tradition, individual Dutch Delftware blue tiles” (Tribal Worldwide, 2011). Consumers could even add unique designs to their own tiles and inspiring phrases. Furthermore, when relating to accessibility of the consumer and business relationship, each tile could be uploaded in a variety of languages, including Chinese, Dutch, English, German, and more. These images were uploaded through KLM’s Facebook page and their TileYourself.com website. As a result of this unique campaign, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines unveiled a Boeing 777-200 airplane exterior wrapped in nearly 4,000 of these tiles and quotations.

Through co-creation, a business can also tackle common goals, and the most popular ones used by different airline companies are typically one of five objectives: solving a particular problem, reducing costs, associating their brands with a specific concept, obtaining first hand data from their community of users, and promoting a new feature, product, and/or route. Often, airline companies use crowd sourcing techniques to “solve problems related to the visible product, such as an in-flight meal… in a very ‘socially active’ way” (Simpliflying Pte LTD, 2015). Pinterest is a popular social media platform, with mainly a demographic of middle aged women. In 2012, British airline company, BMJ, launched a movement to encourage followers to re-pin photographs from nine destinations and routes that the airline offered. As a result, several lucky users were picked at random to win free return airline tickets to a destination of choice (Crowdsourcing.org, 2015).

Another bold example is Estonian Air’s website campaign asking all of its customers for feedback on what they would like to see differently. This example of co-creation, allowed customers to honestly answer how they felt about past experiences or what they would like to try in the future in order to have a successful trip with this airline company. As a result, Estonian Air received an overwhelming response from its followers. The CEO of the airline company stated in a press release that this campaign’s goals were not only to learn more about what the customer needs, but to educate the customer as to why procedures are performed in a certain way.

In short, crowd sourcing has a collective byproduct, known as crowd branding, where companies can not only engage customers, but build the brand as a twofold. As you can see from these examples, each airline company has built upon a well-cared for brand as well as engaged their consumers through new relationship building strategies. In the future, airline companies will need to work hard to find new and innovative ways to look at crowd sourcing options. Perhaps we will see connections being made on mobile phone application or with face to face promotions at mega events. Somewhere beyond Facebook walls and other social media platforms, companies will be looking at building new ideas with the main priority, their customers, in mind.

Works Cited

Peelan Dr., & R. Beltman, (2013), Customer Relationship Management. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

CrowdSourcing.Org. (2015). British Airline Launches A Pinterest Lottery To Give Away Free Flights. Retrieved from http://www.crowdsourcing.org/document/british-airline-launches-a-pinterest-lottery-to-give-away-free-flights-/12308

CrowdSourcing.Org. (2015). Estonian Air Crowdsourcing Ideas To Engage Travelers. Retrieved from CrowdSourcing.Org: – http://www.crowdsourcing.org/document/estonian-air-crowdsourcing-ideas-to-engage-travelers-as-tero-taskila-takes-over-as-new-ceo/5125

SimpliFlying Pte LTD. (2015). Retrieved from The Top 10 Crowd Sourcing Initatives: http://simpliflying.com/2011/crowdbranding-the-top-10-crowdsourcing-initiatives-by-airlines/

Tribal Worldwide. (2011). KLM Wraps Plane In Consumer Portraits. Retrieved from Tribal Worldwide: http://tribalworldwide.com/uncategorized/klm-wraps-plane-in-consumer-portraits-using-user-generated-content/

 

Cutting Edge Corporate Culture Cultivates Superb Customer Experiences

With any product or experience, it is crucial to look for a company to create a loving relationship between the company itself and its clientele. As far as relationship advice goes, there is a common theme of taking care of oneself first before one can fully give themselves to another. Corporate culture can be defined as “the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions” (Investiopedia LLC, 2015). The corporate culture of a business is often not publicaly shared, but implied through every day activities with customers and businesses. This can be mirrored through employee dress code, employee benefits, employee turnover, and even by how well clients are treated.

Looking within Transavia, a low cost Dutch airline in the European transportation industry, the corporate culture appears to be thriving.  Photographs on Instagram show Transavia employees enjoying their workday by talking selfies with guests mid flight, showcasing new uniforms, and attending world class sports events.

As a great example, in early 2015, Transavia worked with its employees to design new uniforms for both men and women. “We want to continue investing substantially in our people,” explains Managing Director – Chairman Mattijs ten Brink. “These uniforms fit in perfectly with the new Transvia. They enable employees to even better express the sentiment and story of this fabulous airline in coming years” (Transavia, 2015).

Source: Transavia's Corporate Instagram
Source: Transavia’s Corporate Instagram

Through co-creation with its main stakeholders, Transavia employees were able to discuss what kind of clothing would be comfortable for them in all aspects of their positions, including indoor and outdoor activities. The employees were delighted to assist in this idea generating process, and some even made their own items of clothing to bring their ideas to life. As a result, the cabin crews have twenty three articles of clothing to choose from. For both men and women, each employee has a variety of comfortable, breathable clothing to choose from. For example, a stewardess has a complete wardrobe including trousers, a skirt, dress, blouse, T-shirt, cardigan, coat, vest, scarf, belt, overcoat, and winter scarf/shawl. “Employees who subscribe to norms and values which apply within the company may become emotionally involved in the organization and are prepared to make extra efforts in the interest of the relationships (Horovitz and Panak, 1992). Furthermore, all of these exciting clothing options have boosted individual and team based morale, allowed for a comfortable working environment, and proven to Transavia employees that their opinions and ideas truly matter.

Source: Transavia's Corporate Instagram
Source: Transavia’s Corporate Instagram

Walt Disney said it best, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends,” (KissMetrics, 2015). While the airline industry varies from a destination or theme park, Transavia is an excellent example of a company paving the way in all areas of customer engagement management. With their new branding revealed in the past year, all areas of the customer experience are monitored, evaluated and cared for in attentive, colorful detail. And along with their customers, an outsider looking in can clearly see content, well cared for employees. Coincidence? Hardly not.

Works Cited

Cable News Network. (2012, 07 29). Travel CNN. Retrieved from World’s 12 best airline magazines for 2012: http://travel.cnn.com/explorations/life/worlds-12-best-airline-magazines-523957

Canarian Weekly . (2012, 04 10). Ryanair inflight mag cut down in size. Retrieved from Canarian Weekly : http://www.canarianweekly.com/ryanair-inflight-mag-cut-size/

Investopedia LLC. (2015). Corporate Culture . Retrieved from Investopedia: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/corporate-culture.asp

KissMetrics. (2015). 10 Ways To Make Customers Fall In Love With Your Business . Retrieved from KissMetrics: A Blog About Analytics, Marketing And Testing: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/true-love-with-customers/

Transavia. (2015, May 18). New uniform for Transavia crew – “Employees design onboard uniforms”. Retrieved from Corporate Transavia: https://corporate.transavia.com/en-NL/news/new-uniform-for-transavia-crew/