When deciding to travel by air to any destination, the average traveler is searching for the best value, and value in terms of air travel does not always mean cheap airfare. With air travel, value actually encompasses a lot more. While affordability is an important factor, a great value is also about the overall experience. For instance, is on-line flight check-in available? Will there be a layover, or is this a non-stop flight? What accommodations will be made while waiting to board the flight? Will there be Wi-Fi onboard? Are there any hidden fees I should know about? Will I be comfortable aboard the aircraft? Will I be able to charge my phone? Will there be a variety of meal and refreshment options?
Air travelers not only care about affordable prices, but they also care a great deal about comfort and convenience. They want to know they’re getting the best bang for their buck. Bearing this in mind, here are some ways aviation companies are marketing comfort and convenience to their customers.
It Begins With A Message
Before launching a marketing campaign or introducing a new product or idea into the air travel experience, successful aviation companies get to know their customers and develop messages that appeal to their target audiences. To raise the stakes, aviation companies are taking it a step further by working to obtain a psychological understanding of what customers want. For example, Delta Airlines markets itself as a company that is considerate of its customers’ time. The branding message states that Delta Airlines is a company that “respects you and your time, and acknowledges the challenges of travel today.” In contrast, American Airlines’ message promotes the convenience of the company’s in-flight Wi-Fi availability allowing customers to travel without putting their lives “on pause.”[i] By gearing messages specifically to their target audiences, aviation companies are able to strengthen their brands while also attracting new customers.[ii]
Airport Rest and Relaxation
If you’re someone who travels frequently, chances are you spend a lot of time in airports. Whether traveling for business or leisure, passengers are arriving at airports earlier to allow time to clear security lines. If by chance the TSA line moves swiftly or a flight is delayed, travelers may find themselves with idol time on their hands. Add an airport lounge to the equation, and suddenly those wandering passengers have a place to relax and recharge while they wait. Currently, the largest audience for airport lounges are customers who already have a Priority Pass Card, but more and more, both business and leisure travelers alike are finding that airport lounges are a hot commodity. Because of this increase in demand for lounges as an amenity, independent lounges are popping up in airports all over the globe.[iii] Airport lounges offer travelers the perfect balance of comfort and convenience all under one roof. Lounges typically have unlimited food and drinks, furniture with built in charging stations, plenty of peace and quiet to read or watch television, or maybe even indulge in a complimentary spa service. Aviation organizations that market and invest in lounges are heightening customer loyalty and seeking tremendous growth in new customers.
Premium Economy: The New Norm
Just a decade ago, passengers who wanted a variety of meal options, comfortable and spacious onboard seating, and unlimited snacks and refreshments would have to purchase a business-class ticket. Now, with the emergence of the premium economy cabin, aviation companies are reassessing the need for business class. Premium economy offerings have become highly competitive amongst air carriers in recent years, and options such as flatbed seating on international flights have become the norm. The economy cabin is quite appealing to those passengers who travel for leisure but are not locked into a frequent-flyer or corporate buying program. Premium cabins offer many of the business class luxuries at an affordable cost, and in some instances, premium cabin fares may even be more affordable than the economy. Premium cabin offerings include early boarding, quicker deplaning from the front of the cabin, more legroom, free beer, wine, and spirits, state of the art touch screen entertainment, and lounge access where available.[iv] By marketing the convenience, affordability, and comfort of premium cabins, air carriers have been able to fill more seats while also expanding their target market to include leisure travelers.
Mobile Meal Ordering
With the market becoming more and more competitive, a few aviation companies are setting themselves apart from the competition by offering mobile meal ordering. Now passengers can choose from and pre-order a variety of meal options 30 days in advance and up to 12 hours prior to their scheduled flight. Aviation companies entice customers with “chef-inspired” entrées that are “delectable local finds,” and promise to use only fresh ingredients, appealing to each passenger’s inner foodie. The benefit of mobile ordering is that passengers are able to reserve their meals ahead of time and ensure that they will be available on the aircraft.
Now, with the convenience and accessibility of mobile apps, passengers can order meals directly from their smartphones, and with the help of mobile app companies like Grab and AirGrub, mobile meal ordering is no longer just limited to the aircraft.[v] Air travelers now have the option of ordering meals from airport restaurants and having them delivered directly to the departure gate. By utilizing mobile apps, passengers are able to order food in advance, pay for their orders, and schedule a time for pick up or delivery. The convenience of mobile meal ordering has raised the bar for many aviation companies, increasing sales and appealing to a wider range of customers.
In an age where most people are accustomed to having the world at their fingertips, connectivity is of the utmost importance. Think about it for a second. If you were to misplace your smartphone right now, you’d probably feel naked, misplaced, and completely out of touch. Aviation marketing gurus have familiarized themselves with the psyches of their customers and are constantly exploring new and innovative ways to meet customer demands. For instance, in-flight Wi-Fi is now a standard amenity on most commercial carriers, and air carriers like Southwest and Air China have taken it a step further by providing gate-to-gate WiFi to their passengers.[vi] Now with the integration of beacon technology, a protocol that relies on Bluetooth 4.0 low energy to display location-relevant information on smartphones and tablets, passengers will be able to receive flight boarding information, details on airport lounge accessibility, and track their baggage directly from their mobile devices.[vii] In addition to the obvious convenience it provides, constant connectivity creates a platform for aviation companies to market peace of mind to their customers. Those that continue to invest in the latest technological innovations will set themselves apart from the pack in the minds of their customers.
In today’s fast-paced world, appealing to customers without marketing convenience is almost unheard of. For aviation companies, the promise of comfort is just as important—if not more. Companies that strike a balance by effectively marketing both comfort and convenience to their target audiences while also showcasing the value of their products and services will distinguish their brands from the competition and continue to grow their customer base.
What are some ways your company is marketing comfort and convenience to your customers? Please share in the comment section below.
[i]"Marketing Airlines How Successful Airlines Market Themselves" Marketing-Schools.org. N.p., 2012. Web.
[ii]"Marketing Airlines." Marketing Schools. N.p., 2012. Web.
[iii] Wilson, Benét. "A New Level of Passenger Comfort." Airport Business Aug. & Sept. 2016: 30-32. Print
[iv] McGee, Bill. "Is Premium Economy Worth the Extra Money?" USA Today. N.p., 7 Aug. 2013. Web.
[v] Kollau, Raymond. "Airlines and Airports Let Passengers Pre-Order Food Via Mobile Apps."Airlinetrends.com. N.p., 15 Jan. 2016. Web.
[vi] Hudson, Steward. "How Airlines Benefit From Constant Connectivity."Business.com. N.p., 6 Jan. 2015. Web.
[vii] Kelly, Emma. "Improving the Process." Asian Aviation Apr. 2016: 30-33. Print
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