Selling dreams, delivering nightmares, how airline personalisation helps
You’re in a travel technology conference and someone starts a presentation by saying it’s time for a comfort break as they have nothing new to say.
What do you do? Listen more intently? Leave the room? Phone a friend?
That’s how Qantas Direct boss John Lonergan launched into a session last week claiming his presentation would be stating the “bleeding obvious.”
The “bleeding obvious” he’s referring to is how in travel we’re selling a dream but the true picture is far from what customers have in mind when they book.
Less obvious is how the industry gets around this and Lonergan, who was speaking at the Amadeus Airline Digital Merchandising conference, shared some of what Qantas does to try to help customers.
With the airport chaos image firmly in mind, he spoke about “easy” being the one thing travellers want above all else. Qantas has, he says, correlated its Net Promoter Scores with text to find that “easy” comes out top.
In broad terms, there are four areas Qantas sees it can improve the experience before the traveller gets on the plane – finalise the booking, offer them extras, prepare to fly and disruption.
In finalising the booking, Lonergan was frank in saying that the airline’s does not want to put anything in the way of getting the customer’s money. Some wise words here:
“We leave as much stuff out of the booking process as possible because we think once they have made the purchase we can talk about the other stuff later. No amount of revenue can make up for a lost booking.”
He shared some numbers on how the airline retargets people who have not completed a booking with an email to say the airline will hold the booking and 8% then go on to book.
Stop being “needy”
Airlines need to move on from the idea of ancillary revenue (see Amadeus Traveller Tribes report) and says Lonergan, think about “opportunities for customers to optimise their journey.”
He says the carrier makes money just from allowing people to hold their bookings eventhough many don’t eventually book.
“It gives customers control and certainty. Ancillary revenue sounds so needy.”
Prepare to fly
Pretty obvious this one but airports are stressful places where travellers feel harassed and generally the experience is not a good one. The more an airline can help in terms of where they need to be and when, the better the experience will be.