Travel Brands

How Airlines Can Improve Engagement

A Lesson from Amazon, Netflix and Spotify

Matt Walker
May 23, 2017

Most airlines create oodles of content for their online presence based around destinations they serve, and ancillary retail like car rentals, insurance etc.

Airlines use this content to build authority and to populate email blasts with exciting Calls-to-Action like Explore or Discover.


Well, everybody else is doing it; so it is the thing to do. To date, airlines have adopted a more-is-better approach when it comes to content: more content and greater choice = higher engagement and customer satisfaction.

If we write it, our readers will come. Nope.

Airlines struggle to rank in organic search as destination guides, and yet destinations are an airline’s specialty.

But the greatest tragedy is most airlines have a database of past customers, a captive audience of subscribed travellers and still, content  engagement is very poor. They have fish in a barrel and can’t find the trigger of the gun.

Perhaps, people don’t research travel as much? Not true.

The answer is not more content or cowbell, it is interest-based content, personalised to each customer.

Learn from the Best

Amazon did $80 billion of retail in 2015. 35% was a direct result of personalised recommendations. They report as high as 60% CTR of their email marketing

Netflix report that 80% of their streamed content is discovered as a direct result of interest based recommendations, which they report saves them $1 billion per year. 

Spotify launched Discover Weekly in 2015. Over 10 weeks there was 1 Billion more songs streamed and an increase of $7 million in royalties.

Each of these industry leaders use algorithms based around collaborative filtering to inform an interest based approach to their marketing.

What that means is they only make recommendations when they understand a customer’s interests, and the broader trends of larger samples of customers with similar interests.


Build Customer Loyalty through Context

It is not good enough for an airline to simply segment their contact database by past purchases, age and gender. My wife gets emails to go see Barcelona FC play in the Nou Camp; I get emails for Christmas markets in Copenhagen - both are met with the same response: unsubscribe.

Understanding context is essential to relevant marketing. The quality of the content might be great, but to the wrong customer, it is spam.

survey revealed that 62% of Millennial respondents would unsubscribe, if the travel brand continues to send irrelevant offers. 41% of the same generation indicated they would go further and delete the company’s mobile app. 

Bombarding former passengers with a broad range of recommendations, hoping that one will inspire action, is permission spamming: turning friends and potential customers back into strangers. 

Airlines have to commit to creating an amazing experience for their customers while they still have permission, and that begins with knowing the customer.

Amazon, Netflix and Spotify have long employed this approach to marketing, and have left a detailed blueprint for airlines to follow.

. . .
LikeWhere's software enables travel brands to unleash the power of context in personalised location marketing.
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