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How can travel marketing and flight search support passenger loyalty?

The best customers don’t just buy from you once, they come back time and time again, building great lifetime value and boosting your airport’s revenue.

It’s a much quoted statistic that it costs five times more to win a new customer than it does to retain an existing one, but it’s backed up by the fact that a 5% increase in customer retention correlates with at least a 25% increase in profit.

And while a company has only a 5% to 20% chance of selling to a new customer, the likelihood of conversion rises to 60-70% for existing customers.

The best customer loyalty strategies even create brand ambassadors who will build awareness and brand credibility by spreading the word about your products and services. This is important, because according to HubSpot, 81% of customers trust recommendations from family and friends over those from companies.

Some interesting stats about customer loyalty:

  • 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies that offer excellent customer service

  • Around 50% of previously loyal customers have left a company for a competitor who was able to stay more relevant and better satisfy their needs

  • 33% of customers surveyed said they would consider switching companies immediately following a single instance of poor service

These figures indicate that the best and simplest way to build customer loyalty and develop strong relationships with your airport passengers is to make sure they have a top-class experience across channels. This means making their life easier and better right from the moment they visit your airport website or subscribe to your newsletter.

The good news is, it’s possible to do this using the booking and marketing tools you already have in place…

This question was raised in Rezcomm’s recent Travel Marketing Webinar: How can travel marketing and flight search support passenger loyalty?

Building the loyalty loop with direct bookings

“To me this is a really key issue. I think there's a clear association between flight search and passenger loyalty.

The way some of the airports we work with approach this is to keep an eye on the lifetime value and the average spend of passengers (how many parking bookings or lounge bookings a passenger makes), not just across the travel product but across all of the various ecommerce touch points. They then use email and other marketing channels to target those passengers. They really raise the profile of the travel product with those passengers, encouraging them with discounts and other incentives to come to the airport website and book flights.

Other airports have designed promotions to reward passengers for their loyalty. For example, Gatwick Airport is planning a campaign that gives fast-track services free to anyone who books direct with the airport.

This is like saying to the passenger, ‘If you've booked your flight with the airport we're going to reward you by giving you that premium passenger experience. Come to the airport and we’ll treat you like royalty: You're going to be first in the queue for everything that you do. That's how we're going to say ‘thank you’ for your custom.’

This works another way as well. When a passenger has a great experience with an airport, trust is created. This is the point at which the customer is likely to consider buying a flight from the airport. The customer trusts the airport, and they want the airport to take care of their journey from start to finish. It's a brand they recognise, it's one person to communicate with about all of their needs, and I just think that that gives them the warm and fuzzies when it comes to their travel experience! There’s even more incentive when the airport runs a passenger loyalty scheme.”

How marketing can help smaller airports

“When it comes to marketing, there’s also the challenge of awareness of what you can buy from the airport. It’s not necessarily natural for a passenger to automatically know that they can buy their flight from the airport, so things definitely work best when there is lots of awareness work going on.”

- Victoria Wallace, Director of Digital at Rezcomm

Developing loyalty as a competitive advantage

“I think loyalty is such an important factor. Part of the challenge for airports around London and the South East especially is that there's so much choice in London. If we can really enhance the passenger experience, if we can really improve that, treating our customers like royalty, is that what makes the difference in becoming their airport of choice? That is actually a tagline that we've used over many years to share with our customers our objective as a business to become their airport of choice.”

Rewarding loyalty and raising the profile of retail

“myGatwick is an airport loyalty scheme which is quite different from a traditional loyalty scheme in terms of accumulating points, unlocking rewards over time, and those rewards being a vehicle for the airport to reward lifetime value of customer at various different thresholds.

This is much more about instant rewards. We want our customers who are travelling through Gatwick Airport to log onto the myGatwick portal, which is free to join. It's free to be part of because that's our shop window for showcasing. It’s somewhere our retail partners and third-party product providers can place their products to say, ‘We want to reward your loyalty each time you fly.’

There's definitely a good opportunity here. If we can bundle these products in free for flight search, and we can treat the customer like royalty and help to give the best possible experience on the outbound and then the inbound journey, that’s going to help really build both customer loyalty and advocacy. Customers will choose to go through Gatwick Airport.

When a customer has a great experience at Gatwick, they next time they think about searching for a flight they are likely to visit the airport website to find out where they might travel next, and where the airport can inspire them to travel.

For all those reasons, loyalty really is a key part of what we work towards at Gatwick.”

- Andrew Williamson, Commercial Product Manager, London Gatwick Airport

Loyalty begins with brand awareness

“From our perspective the battle is always that so many customers don't know they can fly to all sorts of destinations from these regional airports. So for us it starts with awareness from a travel-marketing point of view.

If you can get that right, get the awareness out and get the passengers in, then it's just all about that customer journey; making sure to support the customer every single step of the way through the booking process; before travel, at the airport and on return.

If you can compliment a good passenger journey with strong destination and product marketing, you’re onto a winner.”

- Sean Staff, Marketing Communications for Regional and City Airports

Engaging technology to support the loyalty loop

Rezcomm’s products provide all of the tools necessary to build customer loyalty.

The reporting and analytics, CRM and emarketing features make it easy to track customer buying behaviour, segment customers into target groups, and send personalised, relevant, timely marketing messages to those customers.

Customer and operational data, in real-time, at your fingertips, also makes it easy to identify and eliminate pain points, ensuring a seamless, stress-free journey for your passengers from the moment they start the booking process to the day they return home from their trip.

Building loyalty, retention and lifetime value is positive for the airport as a business. It’s great for revenue, brand reputation, route development and long-term growth. And with a focus on great customer service and experience, the passenger benefits too.

Rezcomm partners with airports worldwide to provide ecommerce, CRM and marketing solutions. If you would like to find out more about how our products can help you support customer loyalty, contact the team today.

Victoria Wallace

Victoria Wallace

Director of Digital at Rezcomm, Victoria specialises in Digital marketing, CRM, digital design, UI, UX, email marketing, airports, innovation, technology, travel, parking, eCommerce.

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