There is a lot to be learnt from the strategies and tools airlines are deploying successfully. Here are three examples of airlines that not only turned the tide, but are now generating higher than expected returns from direct online channels.

Flybe: Focus on the Experience Flybe flies 180 routes across 16 European countries. Their main brand message is regional connectivity and convenience. In 2013 they decided to pursue a policy of Customer Experience Optimisation (CXO) in order to consolidate their digital strategies and increase revenues.

Flybe worked with Maxymiser, a global leader in customer experience to elevate what they offered and it hinged on ‘FOMO’: Fear of Missing Out. Campaigns were planned which went live across numerous channels, pushing customers to their website, where they made one crucial change based on a simple idea: Are customers more likely to book if they fear they’ll miss out? Quite simply: yes. These campaigns and this simple change (adding a seat availability message at the first stage of the booking process) resulted in an £8.5 million increase in revenue.

Alaska Airlines: Measure the Funnel

When customers come to book on a website they are at the end of the conversion funnel. What brands need to understand is how people act throughout that funnel in order to see where there are leaks, why people abandon a purchase, what drives traffic and what can be done to drive more.

Like Flybe, Alaska Airlines is regional, serves connectivity hubs across a large territory (Canada, America,Mexico) and faces some tough competition. With a handful of Adobe tools (SiteCatalyst, SearchCenter+, Genesis and Test&Target™) they were able to more accurately pinpoint the journey a web visitor takes from search through to sale. This enabled them to optimise ad spend and SEO campaigns, resulting in a 1.1% increase in conversions. Alaska Airlines marketing department were able to use this to secure a 50% increase in search spend.

Virgin Atlantic: Futureproof your Product

Earlier in the year Virgin Atlantic trailed Google Glasses, the iBeacon and the Sony SmartWatch 2in their Upper Class Lounges in Terminal 3, at London’s Heathrow Airport. Declaring this trial a success, it looks like the forward thinking airline will be rolling out these services to all passengers in the future.

Dave Bulman, Virgin Atlantic’s IT Director said this is because they are focusing on the experience itself: “The whole industry needs to listen to what these passengers are calling for, and keep innovating to bring a return to the golden age of air travel. Flying should be a pleasure not a chore.”

At the same time they launched a new mobile site, designed to make booking, checking flight times and luggage allowances far easier for passengers. Success online means always thinking about what customers need, how to make things easier for them, how to sell the inherent values of the service you are offering in a way which keeps your customers coming back.

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