Created in collaboration with travel intelligence brand Skift, Sabre’s Trend Report explores challenges faced by airlines in traveler digital experience, personalization, and retailing. This is one of a series of articles taken from this report.
Aeromexico made designing robust customer-centric digital a core part of its brand definition program, reaping the benefits both in sales and operational efficiencies.
Its design approach includes keeping step with the customer along the journey, ensuring they don’t stray far, and that when they do go off the beaten path it is for a pleasant detour to a place they’ve never visited before.
The airline’s customer centric design is not only responsive to customers, it is interactive, engaging them in conversation through travel inspiration. From pre-travel to journey’s end, the airline has found ways to use digital to increase bookings, reduce booking costs, boost sales and improve customer relationships.
Grasping the key objectives
At the outset, Aeromexico was clear with the desired outcomes from the investment in customer-centric design. The airline’s dual objectives were to increase sales through their direct digital channels, as well as increase overall conversion.
These goals would be achieved primarily through intuitive interfaces and other means to sales conversion and payment conversion. But it also means improving the overall passenger experience so that the traveler wants to come back to the airline, as well as book through its owned channels.
The airline benefits from increased efficiency thanks to the improved customer experience. With customers in control, they can manage their booking in self-service. There are also more options for fare classes, seats, and ancillaries, meaning each traveler can customize accordingly.
Enhancements to the company’s bottom line comes from selling more premium seats, ancillaries, and upgrades. When sales shift from indirect channels, this also means huge savings on GDS fees and commissions.
Refining the process
Aeromexico plotted and refined its engagement on various digital channels and points along the customer journey. The airline came from a low penetration and nearly doubled that in the past year. Every percent increase meant a corresponding increase in premium seat and ancillary sales.
Aeromexico: each percent increase on direct channels sees same increase in premium/ancillary salesShare
Add to that a concerted focus in constantly improving and honing the seat and ancillary offering. Aeromexico now has an optimized premium seat pricing, and created more and more categories of seats. Aeromexico has high expectations of further improvements so that they can reach the full potential for unbundling and ancillary sales.
The airline needed the flexibility in the front end to optimize the user experience through simplicity, ease of use, and presenting ancillaries where and how they wanted. Development of these digital platforms required up-front investment of personnel and creative resources. These teams focused on carefully mapping the customer journey and proactively resolving hurdles. This planning makes the investment pay off in the long term.
Aeromexico also optimized costs by using resources wisely. Communication and collaboration were critical to avoid double-work and overlooked insights. By also getting top-level executives to buy-in to the program, the team had enough support to fully execute on the project.
Informing next steps through current outcomes
Aeromexico has noted a marked positive reaction from customers to the changes implemented through digital customer-centric design, even though the airline is just getting started. Their existing website usage, which has gone through a lot of ‘tweaking’ has almost doubled in the past year, confirming that customers have found an improved digital experience so far.
The results are far from what the airline aims to achieve overall. And that’s why the airline plans to launch a refreshed online presence and app in the late summer. This marks another signpost along the way — as the journey unfolds, the team continues to iterate and strive for that exceptional customer-centric digital experience.