In September this year The 13th annual Aviation Festival brought together over 1200 senior airline executives from a who’s who list of global airlines and their partners.
15below hosted a thought leadership round table session on ‘How effective communication can enhance your bottom line’ .
Nicholas Key – Commercial Director at 15below has given us the 3 key takeaways from the information discussed during the session.
1) Get the basics right before you focus on ancillaries
Brand loyalty stems from a trusted and valued relationship between an airline and their customer. Deliver a great passenger experience – through customer service, brilliant communication, and empathy – and they will come back again, buy more, and recommend you to their friends.
TIP > Don’t let a myopic focus on driving ancillary sales, distract you from getting the basics right. As Jerry Angrave, from Empathyce aptly put: “Consistently deliver what your customer needs and wants and the revenue will follow automatically”. You can’t afterall, sell an ‘added extra’ to someone who’s no longer a customer of yours.
2) Leverage smart technology to build up your customer contact details
A weather storm is coming in and there’s a high probability that flights will be delayed or cancelled. But how can an airline proactively advise their guests and keep them informed if the passengers contact details are not stored (or not complete) in the reservation system?
This is a huge challenge for airlines – especially those with a large proportion of indirect bookings. With insufficient and conflicting communication combined cited as the top frustrations of travellers (PhocusWright) this lack of information has the potential to damage an airlines brand (and bottom line). IATA 830d resolution is designed to improve this situation, but is not yet enforced.
TIP > Use clever tech platforms which can seamlessly integrate with multiple sources such as CRM systems, Frequent Flyer databases, subscriptions etc. to build up your customer contact details. By increasing the % of those whom you can communicate with in a timely, targeted manner will do wonders at improving your service – reducing calls into your contact centre, complaints and ultimately your overheads.
3) Airport vs Airline collaboration… a light at the end of the tunnel?
With the introduction of geo-targeted ancillary selling (or location-based retailing), there is a growing opportunity for airlines and airports to work closer (and more collaboratively) together, to improve the passenger journey and make more money.
Imagine a delayed flight and a family of disgruntled customers. Now imagine a way for the airline to proactively compensate that family with simple and relatively cheap ‘good-will vouchers’ for suitable restaurants or retail outlets. Mutually beneficial commission models could mean both airlines (who have the passenger contact details) and airlines (who have the retail space) can minimise the negative sentiments a customer may feel, whilst driving additional revenues in process.
In summary, as tnooz aptly pointed out in their recent article:
“Having a strategy around understanding the so-called ‘customer lifetime journey’ will allow airlines to not only establish a better way to market to passengers during business-as-usual, but give them a far better ability to manage disruption in a more personal (and cost-efficient) way.”