Airlines & the experience: a missed opportunity?

Instead of building brand loyalty, airlines appear to be alienating consumers but it doesn’t have to be that way, says research from EyeforTravel and Relay42 released today

In major survey of UK air passengers, a key finding is that just over half of consumers see price and convenience as the most important factors when choosing a flight. Just 12.5%, however, put a premium on brand trust and a paltry 4.6% see the loyalty programme as important factor in decision-making.

There is further evidence too of where airlines are falling short. Passengers were emphatic that they would be more likely to book with an airline that displayed fees and extra charges more clearly; in fact as many as 94% of respondents said that they would favour an airline that took this approach. Other popular offerings were for an airline that offered a booking route that allowed the passenger to book their flight and nothing else. Those surveyed also wanted an account that would allow consumers to choose and manage their communications from the airline.   

As many as 94% of respondents said that they would favour an airline that displayed fees and charges more clearly

The airline business is highly commoditised, most carriers lack brand power and are struggling to differentiate; most are forced to compete on price alone. The survey also points to the possibility that customers will prove less willing to buy ancillary items, which has been particularly lucrative for airlines in recent years.

60% of respondents would welcome information on check-in and security waiting times

But all is not lost and airlines can still make gains. As the white paper suggests, airlines should understand passenger pain points. Through better technology, data sharing, partnerships across the travel industry and focused communications, customers can begin to associate the brand with strong customer service. One easy win, says the white paper, would be to inform travellers of waiting times at check-in and security; nearly 60% of respondents say this information would be welcomed.

Relay42 CEO, Tomas Salfischberger, has this to say: “The survey shows a strong tendency towards control for today’s passengers. Favouring technology that aids the search and booking stages in their journey – over the relevant delivery of offers and content – means passengers are wresting back autonomy over the buying process. In turn, airlines must shape their strategies around this.”

Read the full white paper and survey results here

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