This is the final blog in our ‘Airlines and automation: A marketing love story’ series. Catch part one where we showed you how to grab your customer’s attention from the moment they started dreaming of a trip, and part two where we explored how to upsell your passengers by strengthening your brand-customer relationship.
Airlines are already using automation to make their marketing activities simpler. But what they’re not doing is unlocking its full potential: from developing stronger relationships with your customers, to wooing your passengers with a seamless experience. Here’s our final guide of the series, with advice on how to hack your customers’ emotional and behavioural drivers to generate more sales.
And we’re starting with the build-up to the day of travel.
The big day: It’s finally time to fly.
To your passengers, it’s the moment they’ve been dreaming about. But for your airline, the experience is an extended period of days, pre-flight-to-post-flight. And because this is such a crucial time in your customers’ journey, it’s important to get it right.
Pre-flight is the time for providing appropriate, useful communication, when it matters most.
Relevant check-in information is an obvious choice, but updates for weather conditions at the passenger destination, travel updates for the journey – these are small touches which take your customers from satisfied to delighted. If your passenger needs to catch a connecting flight, for example, outlining the fastest route through the layover airport to get to the next gate is an option for turning a begrudging experience into a satisfaction opportunity.
For premier customers, this experience could go even further. Airlines could effectively become a digital concierge, with options to book in-flight refreshments ahead of boarding the plane, or exclusive, personalised offers for shopping within the airport. Again, even small details such as the directions to club lounges go a long way, reassuring your passengers and providing them with a serene experience and positive interaction with your airline.
Post touch-down, a check-in with passengers regarding their experience, details of local events which are occurring during their stay or reminders of their return trip booking are all good examples of effective, useful messaging which can enhance any customer’s impression of your brand. A simple ‘Welcome Home’ message after a customer has completed their trip is the perfect sign-off, along with local traffic reports to help assist a simpler onward journey.
Touching base after touch-down
When the return journey is done, there are two clear outcomes: for leisure travellers, it’s the inevitable holiday blues. Whereas for business travellers – well, it’s just business as usual.
There’s a key time to get in touch with your leisure customers re: rebooking. It doesn’t need to be a hard sell, but could even be based on their destination type, or personal interests – i.e. ‘Enjoyed your trip to Paris? Here’s why you’ll adore Amsterdam’, ‘The five highest-rated beaches in the Caribbean’ or ’10 must-visit European cities if you love architecture’. For business passengers, this could extend to global events dependent on their employment sector, or personalised offers based on their recent travel patterns.
Either way, for smart airlines, the customer journey doesn’t end after touch-down. It’s an ecosystem which continues to evolve as you collect and feed more data into it, maintaining positive brand associations at every consumer touchpoint.
Personalised automation + customer centricity: A match made in heaven
Automation might be the approach, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. There are literally hundreds of automation tools out there which claim to be the best. But it’s how, when and where you apply these tools that counts, so you need a robust, data-backed strategy to provide the foundation for every communication.
Answering those how, when and where questions is what we do at Proctors. We’ll help you map the key stages of your passengers’ journeys before identifying individual behavioural and emotional drivers at every point. It’s only then that we’ll make recommendations on the automation tools that best fit your customer data – and your business objectives.
Having worked in the aviation industry for over a decade, we know that’s never the end of the story. Passengers keep travelling. Technology keeps evolving. The world keeps turning. So there’s no one-hit-wonder silver marketing bullet to be uncovered.
Instead, ongoing analysis and optimisation are the secrets to success. Embed both into your marketing strategy and you’ll be well on the way to reaching (and retaining) more passengers, more efficiently and effectively, helping them enjoy a better experience and deeper relationship with your brand.