Tuesday, October 20th, 2015 | 9 min read
Picture this: you’re looking forward to a well-earned vacation, or you’ve saved up for the trip of a lifetime that you’ve been dreaming about for years. Then, your airline messes up. Your flight is delayed by a few hours, which means you miss your connecting flight. Or maybe the airline loses your bags, which means you’re stuck with jeans and a t-shirt for the next few days – in 100-degree weather.
Your dreams of lounging on exotic shorelines, sunshine, and palm trees are momentarily crushed. What do you do?
Many people would take to social media to voice their complaints. In fact, an overwhelming 95% of dissatisfied customers share their bad experiences with their tribe, whether that be on social, or at the dinner table.
But it’s not all bad news for brands. Customers who have positive social customer care experiences are nearly three times more likely to recommend the brand because of that interaction.
Airlines and travel companies know this, and they often go the extra mile to keep existing customers satisfied – and attract new ones – by providing remarkable customer experience. Travel brands have become increasingly more imaginative, as they seek to create unforgettable memories for their customers.
Here are some recent examples of great customer experience marketing from the travel industry.
Video really came into its own this year, dominating social feeds as the medium of choice for many leading brands.
With the release of live streaming apps like Periscope, Meerkat, and Twitter Halo (along with customers’ insatiable appetite for all things real-time), video is no longer just about creating perfectly-edited content; now, it’s a way for people to dive into another world, or experience an event taking place thousands of miles away. From the recent New York Fashion Week shows, to airline flights, live video streaming is having its moment.
Turkish Airlines set the bar high for other airline brands as it premiered the first-ever live streamed video of a flight traveling from Istanbul to New York.
The video took viewers on the journey from pre-flight staff areas, across the Atlantic, and through the landing process. Viewing numbers peaked just before touch-down, as users were asked to guess where the plane was going to land.
JetBlue is no stranger to rewarding customers through fun marketing campaigns – they’ve previously given out free flights through talking billboards and filled vending machines with free books for kids.
Their latest offering came in the form of giant posters scattered around New York. Customers were invited, through posts on Facebook and Twitter, to peel down these posters, which revealed gift vouchers hidden underneath for the customer to “steal.”
The 185 lucky winners got free flight vouchers, basketball tickets, or ice cream – some even got a personal visit from a JetBlue crewmember. Those who weren’t quite as lucky received light-hearted messages like “Snooze You Lose” and “Takers Gonna Take”.
By linking social media activity to interactive challenges in their customers’ every day lives, JetBlue created an exciting, fully-immersive experience for those bold enough to rip away their posters. Imagine the thought process before tearing the poster down, and the excitement each customer felt when they realized that they had won!
The campaign was so popular that it was brought back for a second round in October.
Virgin Atlantic connected with their LinkedIn followers in an unconventional way by posting a spoof job ad on the business networking platform.
The ad, which called for a “Freelance Flyer, Premium Economy”, was created to promote a competition to win free flights from the USA to London. It asked candidates to describe why Virgin Atlantic should pay for their next business trip to London, in under 1,500 characters, complete with clever prompts like, “Are you seeking a position with guaranteed upward mobility?”
Although the number of actual applicants wasn’t huge (perhaps the call for 1,500 characters was too big a barrier for entry), the stunt gathered a lot of attention online.
The campaign showed that content can capture consumers’ attention – something that’s increasingly difficult to do – when it’s found in unexpected places. Imagine seeing your favorite Suits character while you’re swiping through Tinder, or finding Walter White’s Breaking Bad house up for sale on Craigslist. An element of surprise makes people much more likely to stop scrolling and click.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ webcare team is already known for an efficient, 24/7 quick-response service – they even display a live countdown on their Twitter header image letting customers know when they can expect a reply. But they recently took their commitment to providing exceptional social customer care a step further.
After being inundated with requests for free flights from customers in various situations, KLM kicked off their first FlightFunding campaign, starting with Juanita, a Dutch woman with a grandson in Canada who she’d never been able to meet.
They launched a social media appeal, challenging fans to raise enough money in 24 hours to fly Juanita from the Netherlands to Canada. Their fans rallied, and, within just 8 hours, KLM presented Juanita with an airline ticket. Also, before stepping on the plane, Juanita was greeted by a crew member who presented her with gifts to bring to her grandchildren. KLM kept audiences hooked by providing live updates.
This is just one example of fantastic customer experience from KLM – there are many more. The Dutch airline has made us laugh and cry (tears of joy, of course) with other heart-warming campaigns, like Cover Greetings, which surprised travellers with personalized messages from loved ones on their headrest covers. They’ve also introduced more practical initiatives to help customers connect with each other, such as Meet & Seat.
And the extra effort has been worth it: the airline has reported a €25 million revenue increase, directly linked to its social media activity.
Airlines aren’t the only travel companies looking for ways to delight their customers – travel agencies and tourist boards are jumping on the CX plane, too.
This June, we saw 3.8 million travel-related photos posted on Instagram, with everything from sunsets to local architecture. Clearly, a vacation humble brag is hard to resist. El Camino Travel picked up on this trend and turned it into an opportunity to help their customers document their amazing travel experiences.
The company’s business model centers on providing customers with a professional photographer to take vacation snaps for their personal social media accounts. In addition to happy customers, this model provides El Camino with a daily dose of wanderlust-inducing photos for their Instagram feed. And it means that El Camino vacation packages get shared more.
After all, it’s important that your customers come away with a positive experience after every interaction with your brand. It’s even better if they can easily share this experience with others, too.
These travel brands show that when it comes to creating personal and shareable customer experiences, the sky’s the limit.
Adding elements of surprise to marketing campaigns, like JetBlue and Virgin Atlantic, captures consumers’ attention. So does livestreaming experiences that are entertaining and inspiring, like flying on an airplane. Going above and beyond to deliver exceptional social customer care, like KLM, shows customers that the brand truly cares about making their day better.
And creating shareable experiences for your customers will not only make them love your brand a little bit more; it will also make it easy for them to spread the word about the fabulous experiences your company provides.
Over to you: what’s your favorite example of great customer experience marketing?
About the Author: Bianca Ohannessian is the Senior Content Manager at Sprinklr London. With a passion for fashion and an appetite for adventure, when she’s not writing copy, she’s out exploring the globe.