If you are a travel brand into social media, identifying, connecting and building a relationship with your online brand loyalists and advocates must be an important element of your social media strategy.
Embracing your influencer customers and having a special relationship with them has manifold benefits. They move up from the brand loyalty to brand advocacy scale, give you repeat business, stick with you during good times and bad times, provide you valuable feedback on your products and services but also give you more word of mouth PR via earned media and help you in acquiring more customers through their social reach. It is also more cost effective to retain them than acquire new prospects. Their actions are also more measurable and accountable to the bottom line, from an ROI point of view.
However, many brands focus more on customer service, push marketing and community management on social media, and rarely give online influencer marketing and outreach the importance it deserves.
My experience with India’s Kingfisher Airlines is a case in point that can be an inspiration to brands that work with influencer outreach.
The joy of flying an airline that “knows” you
I first flew Kingfisher Airlines in January 2011. Before my flight, I tweeted to them and they replied to me saying they were looking forward to welcoming me. Little did I know then that one tweet would lead to a consistently rewarding customer relationship. The social media team had done their homework before I boarded my plane. You can read about the surprise that awaited me here.
In a year, I have enjoyed 5-star treatment from Kingfisher that is usually unheard of from other airlines. Once, they held back a flight and ferried me in a car to the waiting plane when I was running late. I was given a special tour of an A321 flight deck by the crew once. I am often given complimentary lounge access when I fly with them even while flying Economy. They have a smart CRM system in place that knows my favorite seat across different aircraft types. No matter which airport I’m flying out of, my favorite seat is always blocked for me, without having to going through online check-in. On flights that are not sold out, I get the whole row to myself. The crew knows me by name when they are serving me on the flight. Very often, I am personally dropped off or fetched from a plane by their guest relations agents. Sometimes I don’t have to wait in long security lines to board the aircraft. Any customer queries via Twitter are promptly addressed and followed up via email and telephone. All while flying Economy. These soft touches go a long way when it comes to customer loyalty.
Since January 2011, I have flown Kingfisher 15 times. I often pay a premium to fly them even when I have cheaper or non-stop flights available. I even recommend it to those who are looking for flights to India. The only time I flew another airline to India instead of Kingfisher I felt like I was cheating on a partner. In fact, when they pulled out of Dubai, I flew them for one last time, just for the sake of experiencing their brand again. They did not disappoint me from a customer service perspective. In fact, they had a gift waiting for me to thank me for all the times I had flown with them.
From a PR standpoint, they have benefited immensely by taking good care of me as I have only positive experiences to share about them on my own social networks. They can be assured of my repeat business when they start flying out of Dubai again. Imagine if you were a travel brand and you had dozens of happy customers/influencers like me. The opportunities and possibilities are immense. How would you delight us? How would you benefit in return?
Are you a travel brand? What do you think about the opportunities of reaching out to social influencers? If you’re an influencer, have you had similar great experiences on a different airline? Share your experiences below or tweet us @simpliflying.
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