As a frequent business traveler out of Denver, I choose weekly between multiple air carriers; usually choosing on schedule and price. In the past few years the experiences I’ve had with United and American have been very different, resulting in more of my business going to American. Let me compare and contrast the two:
I fly to Dallas a lot so American is one of my primary airlines. Because Denver is a United hub, I also fly United frequently. I have status with both airlines. As United went through their merger with Continental, United added tiers to their frequent flyer program. Whether perceived or real, I felt demoted when I received my new status. It resulted in shifting from group one to group three in plane boarding order, among other things. I was also given the option to buy status in a higher tier.
American, on the other hand, has analytics folks looking at my behavior and sees an opportunity for more frequent usage. Without any prompting from me, they offered me “Lifetime Gold” status and “Priority Access” seating without officially qualifying. I qualify for aisle seats, exit rows, and early boarding without extra cost and no annual miles commitment. They email me and provide me a special telephone number to talk to a rep quickly. At times they pull me aside and offer me first class seats and first choice of meals when they are available.
Another executive in our company has had a similar experience – and I have to admit I’m jealous of his situation. He got a better upgrade - to “Platinum” - timed soon after he was told that the average wait time to talk to a rep on Expedia was 9 hours in one circumstance and 19 hours in another! With one quick call, he was put on the TSA list. Now he is breezing through airport security without talking out his computer, contact lens solution or taking off his shoes or jacket. They provided an app that helps him avoid the kiosk for boarding passes, and gives him the terminal number to minimize his last minute scrambling.
American Airlines is becoming our airline of choice – and generating incremental revenue - by creating experiences that matter, and surrounding those experiences with customized communications that support them. It’s what we strive to help our clients create and a great example of what we mean by experiences that matter.
Experiences that matter can happen on many different levels – from a standout website experience that efficiently takes a user through an important task; an efficient customer service call or retail experience; a clear simple, relevant email; to a fantastic experience at a live event; or even a great experience with a direct mail piece that drives a customer to a personalized landing page. You can map out the customer experience and build an experience that goes far beyond advertising and marketing to drive the perceptions of your brand you desire, and that you know drive your business forward.
The American Airlines experience is a great example where a company takes people who have real challenges with frequent travel, identifies them as an opportunity, and turns them into more loyal customers through unique memorable branded experiences that drive preference, loyalty and ongoing revenue. Just one reason American Airlines will continue to succeed and grow through their current challenges.
We’ve been working with American for years now, in part helping to create experiences that matter on AA.com, and we are proud to have them as an important client of hawkeye.