by Kane Minks
As the world gets more interconnected and more populated, air transportation has become more in-demand, with passenger numbers increasing by the day. This should have made things easier for airlines, but competition is getting stiffer as countries, especially in the developing world, and individual investors from the industrialized west, set up airlines.
Professor Nawal Taneja, an internationally re-known airline industry expert, identifies development, branding and communication value propositions that are mutually beneficial to customers and airlines even during the challenges facing airlines today.
An airline’s core business is the reliable, safe and fast transport of passengers and goods. However, airlines have failed to effectively brand their products/services and to communicate their value added processes to customers. Inter-connectivity has raised expectations – passengers expect the same level of service from all airlines regardless of their social status or geographical location. This is a challenge airlines have not learnt to deal with effectively.
Airlines are part of the transport chain. They should adopt strategies that enable them work with others, integrating their services with those that are offered by other players in a seamless experience. To do this, airlines need to adopt what Prof. Nawal refers to as passenger centricity, where airlines have a better understanding of passenger needs, financial ability, and willingness to pay sustainable fares. This is what is referred to as passenger intelligence. Airlines can gain this by combining business and customer intelligence, where the information that is used is timely, relevant, authentic and accessible.
Airlines should embrace technology to enhance passenger value. One such technology is the internet which has turned airlines into retailers. These days, airlines sell their services directly rather than going through brokers as they used to do before. Passengers now do not need to go to airline representatives to purchase tickets but do so on the internet. This enhances the passenger experience offered to customers by airlines. By facilitating access to the internet when on board, airlines have transformed their cabins into workstations. By doing this, they create communication lines with passengers who feel that their needs are being taken care of. Airlines should enhance this further by facilitating enhancements and options that are controlled by passengers.
A strategy airlines need to adopt fast is that of being solution providers rather than transaction providers. This is especially relevant where customer needs deviate from universal expectations for all airlines. Most airlines are aware that the purpose of a trip and regional cultures generate different customer expectations. Different airlines need different value propositions for customers. These may be cultural, regional, or segment based.The survival of airlines will depend on how fast they adopt technology. For example, EU airlines hard hit by high fuel costs, a recession, and fare competition are taking up technology-based strategies to revamp the industry. Integrated air traffic control zones create seamless travel experience for their customers and are just some of the strategies on the table. by Kane Minks