As flight tickets become a commodity purchase, airline marketers are continually striving to build value and loyalty into their brand experience. For many of those marketers, their app will become the brand ambassador for the airline.
It’s not a bad strategy. Afterall, the majority of people are firmly bonded to their smartphone. Research by Morgan Stanley suggests that 91% of Americans have their smartphone within reach 24/7. That kind of percentage will apply to flyers from just about any country.
A though-provoking article on the IATA Airlines International website (link below) covered the latest IATA Global Passenger Survey (GPS) which has been conducted in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
We’ve reviewed IATA’s article ‘Passengers want more, but more of what?’ and synthesized three tips for brand-building and disruption-management airline apps.
“Demographically speaking, we have the rise of the millennial traveler reaching critical mass as well as an increase in the consumption power of growing population segments from emerging markets. Looking further into the future, we’ll see the aggregate purchasing power of the E7 emerging economies — Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey — overtake that of the G7 by 2030. So, as we look at what the GPS tells us, we should look at it from the perspective of the emerging traveler.”
PwC Advisory Partner.
The first direction for app brand development is language. Many marketers have a ‘English first’ mindset. But as the quote above shows, the spending power of the emerging E7 markets will exceed that of the established G7 markets by 2030.
So whilst English might be the lingua franca of the travelling classes today, that might not always be the case. Marketers need a strategy to hardwire language variants into their apps.
The second direction for brand building is how far before and after the flight your app can be relevant. The ideal app covers the whole travel experience, from when the traveler avoids traffic on the way to the airport, parks their car, checks-in their baggage, orders their meal, boards the flight, watches an in-flight movie, collects their baggage, finds a train to the city center and books into their hotel.
That spectrum of ‘whole journey’ coverage will add real value to the brand and make the app a valuable brand ambassador.
But do you want your brand ambassador to be the bearer of bad news? And what happens when things don’t go to plan?
The IATA Global Passenger Survey showed that passengers liked their apps when things are going smoothly, but prefer different communications channels when there is disruption.
Over half of passengers surveyed said they prefer to receive important notifications via SMS text message rather than in-app messages.
The reason is simple: SMS coverage is more ubiquitous than wifi or 3G data coverage, so receiving an alert via SMS is more reliable. Plus SMS messaging is hard-wired into a phone, so reading a text takes less clicks and is app-independent.
SMS can be an appropriate way to handle a minor inconvenience, like a flight delay, but what if things go seriously wrong and a flight is cancelled?
Although apps are enormously popular, they are a new phenomenon. In times of stress, people need the reassurance of speaking to another person. It’s a psychological need to be heard.
Of course, gearing up to a one-to-one human response to flight cancellations is near impossible. Suddenly 400 people converge on the flight desk … and the single attendant is overwhelmed.
But airlines could ameliorate that situation by building features like push-broadcasting and textual interactivity into their apps. A push video broadcast could be an airline spokesperson explaining why the flight has been disrupted, what action the airline is taking, and how this affects the passenger. This could be supplemented by a text- or video-chat function so passengers could get individual advice from a helpdesk operator located anywhere in the world.
App developers often focus on the good times. But it’s in times of stress that a well thought out app can really build a bond with the customer. If a passenger from airline A is serenely handling the fallout from her canceled flight via her app, while passengers from other airlines are taking part in a riot at the flight desk, then she knows she has found her preferred airline brand.
Conztanz has a range of solutionthat can help airlines to deliver the next generation of brand-building and disruption-management apps.
If you’d like to know more about our services, please get in touch and ask for a demo. We’ll get straight back to you to start a dialog about your individual requirements.
Want to read the original article from IATA? Click on the link below.
IATA : Passenger’s want more, but of what.