With today’s powerful travel technology platforms, more airlines are connecting their data and systems on the back-end and integrating ancillaries on the front-end to enable more targeted and personalized digital campaigns and offers. But there’s only so much merchandise that a traveler can possibly need or be interested at any given stage of their journey. So where should airlines focus their digital efforts next when it comes to ancillary merchandising and retailing?
Airlines can start by delivering personalized offers for ancillaries that reduce stress and solve immediate traveler pain points and needs, such as baggage tracking or seat upgrades. To do this, however, they need the digital tools to connect their direct channel customers (i.e., app users) to third-party providers of travel products and services ranging from hotel rooms to car rentals, luxury items and destination activities. The right technology platform should help airlines build a catalogue of content (and range of partnerships) that can be personalized based on what the airline knows about the traveler – their purchase history, where they’re going, when they’re returning – to make ancillary selling more targeted and, of course, increase revenues.
By taking ownership of common ‘stress points’ where travelers need products and services, such as when they need a meal between flights or want to schedule transportation upon arrival – and doing so directly through the airline app, integrated with frequent flier points and miles – airlines can engage their customers beyond the flight while using the ‘retail therapy’ approach to create a more stress-free travel experience.
Solving Immediate Traveler Pain Points
A key – and critical – reason why airlines should focus on ancillaries that reduce stress is because these are always in demand. And failing to provide them can have a significant impact on how consumers feel about airline brands and their loyalty to them. Travelers might not notice if an airline fails to personalize their greeting, for example. That depends on who else they’ve flown with and what they’ve come to expect in terms of digital experience. But travelers will absolutely notice if an airline can’t upgrade their seat on a packed flight or doesn’t have their favorite meal in stock.
These are just a few examples of immediate traveler pain points that could and should be as simple to solve as opening an airline app and purchasing a seat upgrade or pre-ordering a meal. How many negative experiences could be easily avoided by making it easier for travelers to get what they need directly through an airline app - and reduce stress levels in the process?
Creating a Stress-Free Travel Experience for Airline Customers
You may have read about Air Canada recently closing a deal to purchase Aeroplan back from Aimia for $450 million, a deal that also includes $1.9 billion worth of unused Aeroplan points. The deal also opens new engagement possibilities for Air Canada with more than 5 million active Aeroplan members. The opportunity: Air Canada will be able to integrate its own ancillaries more closely with program engagement and member ‘earn and burn.’ It’s a great deal for Air Canada, but now the pressure is on to deliver results.
So why this is important when we talk about stress-free travel?
Loyalty programs like Aeroplan have become more valuable as airlines evolve into true travel brands and as FFP currencies become more usable as digital currencies both in and outside the travel ecosystem. But unless airlines are digitally connected to this ecosystem – with the retail and loyalty technologies they need to operate in it – they’ll have a hard time selling ancillaries, either their own or those of fulfillment partners.
Nothing is more stressful to today’s engaged travelers than a poor digital experience – they do everything on their mobile devices. By meeting them with relevant ancillary services at common stress points – before they even start thinking about how stressful their upcoming trip might be – airlines have the chance to demonstrate the usefulness of their apps and the reliability of their brand.
And that is how a stress-free travel experience is built and how customer loyalty is won.
Learn more about our Travel Personalization Platform and how Guestlogix can help your airline increase revenue while building a stress-free travel experience for customers directly through your branded app.